I love homeschooling! I love being able to watch my kids grow and learn, not to mention making memories with them. Here's a few photos from last week's projects. Our theme for last week was lighthouses and our color was red!
And of course, baby Jamaree is right in the middle of learning too!
So, who am I? Why do I write? What's this blog all about?.......
I started this blog back in 2008 when I knew I was heading back to Uganda on a more permanent basis. There had been a lot of changes in my life, but I knew this time going back was going to be different. I wanted to document my time in Uganda, the ministry, what was going on in my life. Several friends were also blogging so it was also a great way for us to keep in touch with each other.
Over time, this blog seems to have wandered. Sometimes there has been a story, a thought, something to catch people up on in life, etc. It's not ever really had a theme. Well, maybe it has. It's been about my journey. But, it still seems that it's kind of meandered around. Lots of different things going on so it's not always been about ministry or even my thoughts on it all. Other times (most times), this blog has been really quiet.
So, who am I?
I'm just an ordinary woman from Arkansas (what seems like the middle of nowhere) who got transplanted to the other side of the world (Uganda). I'm a wife (to one husband- David), mother to four little girls (Jackie, Jurnee, Joelee, and Jamaree), and homeschool teacher to same four little girls. I'm also a full time missionary running a sponsorship program and praying for the day we'll see our school opened.
I love the Lord. I love children and being a mom. I love pouring into the lives of children and watching them become what God created them to be!
Why do I write?
I have always enjoyed writing, whether for school, a journal in my spare time, or even for work! I still enjoy writing. It's always been a way for me to process what is going on in my head. But, somehow it gets pushed to the side a lot. Hopefully, that will get better.
What's this blog all about?
I'm wanting this blog to take on some sort of direction, be a bit more specific. I've decided to make this blog a blog of my life- sort of a memory book. I want to have a space where I can "take a walk down memory lane." So, this blog, is taking a new path. For all of you friends and family (especially on the other side of the world), you can keep up with our day to day life here. Watch the kids grow! Remember with us the journey that we're on!
OK, so I've missed a few days! But, I don't want to give up totally, so I'm back with another post......
We all know time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was holding my firstborn and wondering what I was going to do with a newborn. Now she's almost four years old! But, even though I know time flies, I still find myself always in a rush, always rushing my kids, always telling them to hurry up! They're just babies and exploring their world. Why rush them through it? Grace would say slow down and take time with them. Patience!
It's really not necessary for them to do everything quickly. It's ok if they take long to tie their shoes or stop on a walk to pick flowers! That's what they're supposed to be doing. I should be enjoying the little things of life with them.
So, again 30 minutes before midnight and I'm just getting a chance to sit down and post something. I have a great view though. Three of my four little ones asleep on my bed. I love watching my kids sleep. They look so peaceful and carefree.
As I sit and watch them sleep, I think of all that God has planned for them. All that is before them. I think of what they will become, what kind of person they will be, how their little personalities are forming. I so hope they will walk fully in the plans God has for them. I pray that I never become a stumbling block to them, especially by breaking their spirit.
I think many times as parents when disciplining our children we don't realize the impact of our words! How much some things we say (or even the way we say something) really hurts our children or pulls their confidence down. I think about how many times when I've lost patience or not wanted to be bothered at the moment that I've spoken impatiently or harshly or said something that really shouldn't have been said, only to see a look of defeat in my child's eyes. It's a look I really don't want to see. I want to be a parent that lifts my child up, not tears them down. Again, I pray for grace to abound so that I can speak to my children patiently words that uplift.
Ok, so blogging every day for 31 straight days is proving to be a challenge. I'm not sure what I was thinking???? A newborn and I'm going to have time to write each day. I'm finding that most of the time I have only the few minutes before it clocks midnight into the next day...... Anyway, on to today's topic!
How do you discipline a child with a tender heart. I find it to be easier (for myself) but wonder what the future will hold.
I find it easier because she seems to be sensitive to the fact that she's done something wrong and quick to say she's sorry. But, that also means that she is somewhat of a people pleaser. That scares me for her in the future.
Discipline with her is quite easy at the moment. Usually, I don't have to do much more than say stop. She responds well and seems to understand when we talk about right and wrong and making good choices.
I worry about her wanting to please people so badly that they lead her astray. I want her to be confident and not feel like she has to please me or others to be loved and accepted.
The down side to her being so tender hearted is that she can have a meltdown at times and I never want to discipline her in a way that will break her spirit.
Do you ever have one of those days? You know the ones where nothing seems to go right..... the ones where you are seeped in guilt and wish there were do overs........ the ones where you wondered what happened to the mom you used to be or want to be..........
Life happens and sometimes not the way we want it to. I know there have been many times when I've lost patience and regretted it later. It's happened when I've had little sleep the night before, kids have cried and fought the entire day, and there's been more disobedience than usual. I've lost it and disciplined when really that probably wasn't what was needed at the time. Sometimes what's needed and would be the best thing to do is to just pull the child close to me in a hug and spend some one on one time snuggling and reading a good book. But, instead I'll speak harshly or send my child away from me. Then I'll feel guilty, like the worst mom ever. I'll end up wishing to have a second chance or to have those moments back.
I waste a lot of time wishing for a second chance. It seems like life with my little ones just flies by! I have to remember grace for myself! And be thankful that God does give second chances. Each morning is a new day. Grace for myself! It's usually easier to extend grace to others than to ourselves.
Have you ever been out to eat or in the middle of grocery shopping and your kids decide to melt down and throw a not so quick to end tantrum there and then? Grace for yourself! It's ok. They're children and they're going to throw a tantrum once in a while. That still doesn't mean you have to give the child what he wants. You are still the parent and a child is still a child. You can remain calm and know that the tantrum WILL eventually END! Grace for yourself! You are not a bad parent.
You know those times when you're sitting in a restaurant quietly minding your own business? Then out of the blue a loud, high-pitched wailing sound! Someone else's kid is throwing the tantrum. We've all been there. This is a great time to extend grace. A quiet smile. A gently mouthed, "It's ok." When our kids are throwing tantrums, it's nice to feel supported, not like we're ruining everyone else's day!
But, we're usually our own worst critic........ and critic of other women. Why is it that we can't encourage and support each other? Extending grace to ourselves and to other moms just might be what gets us through the day, the next hour, or even the next minute.
So, I think we all can probably say that we sometimes look at grace as a "free get off the hook" when we've done something wrong. Or even sometimes we may even think of grace as getting away with something without the consequence.
However, when I look at my children I don't see grace that way. I see letting them off the hook, no consequences, or looking the other way when they sin as unloving. I don't want to see my children go down a wrong path. I want them to make wise choices. And I know that probably will not happen without discipline.
Yes, discipline can seem unpleasant at the time, but it's for our own good. When my children do something wrong I want to correct them because I love them. I don't want my correction to be harsh, to be done in anger, or when I've lost patience. I want my correction to be teaching so that my child will make a better choice the next time. I want my children to know that I discipline them because I love them. I desire for discipline to be measured out alongside grace. Even though my child has done something wrong, I want my child to know that I still love her. After discipline has taken place, I desire for the relationship to be restored. I don't want my child to think that her sin is held against her, but for her to know they're forgiven.
Do I always get this right? Absolutely not. It's my heart's desire, but often time my own sin gets in the way. I lose patience. I get angry. I grow annoyed at the normal things children do. I get tired. I need a break. And I don't extend grace.
Thankfully, God always does extend grace. Even when I'm impatient, angry, annoyed, and tired, His grace is sufficient. I just need to reach out for it. Out of an abundance of His grace, I'll be able to extend more grace.
I'll admit it...... I googled the word grace to see what it had as a definition. One of its definitions (according to google) is: the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. According to Wikipedia the definition of grace in Christianity is: the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it.
What does all that mean? I'm really trying to understand grace, to figure out what it really means.
Then, there's the issue of discipline. What is discipline? Again, back to google. I didn't really get a clear answer on this one. I came up with a way of training your child to have self-control and to make the right choice.
Amazingly, the two go hand in hand! A lot of times we can think of grace as a free pass, a get off the hook, or a second chance without the consequence. But, I think true grace doesn't mean that we don't discipline our child. Without discipline we'd all go down a wrong path. I believe discipline is God's way of bringing us back to Him. And, of course, He does it in love.
In one of Andy Stanley's messages, he stated: "God is generous with His grace, and thorough in His discipline." Grace says that I forgive you and I love you. Discipline says I love you enough to not keep letting you walk down the path that you are on.
Grace and discipline should happen together. When my children are doing something wrong, I want them to know that I love them and that is why there is discipline. Discipline doesn't have to be harsh. Discipline with grace brings change. It brings your child back to you instead of driving them away. Discipline with grace teaches your child that you're not afraid to address the wrong, but that you haven't stopped loving her. Discipline does not have to produce fear. It can be a way of teaching or instructing your child. With grace we continue in relationship with our child and produce more trust.
Oh, how I pray that I can discipline my child with grace. I want to teach them and instruct them in what is right and what is wrong. But, I want to extend grace! I want to always remember to measure out discipline in love with the intention of restoring the relationship.
So, a little off topic...... but I'm guessing somehow I can make it stretch. It's always good to extend grace, not just to our children, but to ourselves and to others! Plus, if I don't write this post, it might keep getting put off and never appear here.
I'd like to introduce you to our newest addition (even though she's almost 8 weeks old now)...... Baby Jamaree!
Our third baby (fourth child), you'd think we'd have it all under control by now. However, these little ones don't always go by our plans. Our little girl was due on July 31. I know it's just an expected date, not super accurate. The first two were early so I was sure this one would be two. Even the doctor was! At my 36 week appointment he said he didn't think he'd be seeing me at 38 weeks, that he figured baby was ready to come at any time. I was excited! By that time I was so uncomfortable. But, 38 weeks came and went. I saw the doctor and he was for sure I wouldn't have to come in again. But, again I did at 39 weeks. Again, he figured any day.
Then I asked a stupid question..... What if she didn't come by her due date? His answer: Wait a week and then we'll induce. That's all I needed to hear for their to be worry, stress, sleepless nights, panic, lots of googling inductions (really shouldn't have done that- I convinced myself I was going to end up having a C-section). A week past and to the doctor I went again. Thankfully, my friend Sarah accompanied me.
My doctor was in no rush to induce! Thank God! He first checked the baby's heartbeat and said it looked good. He decided to do an ultrasound and if all looked good to let me wait one more week. So, off to the ultrasound tech I went. All looked good! Fluid levels were great and baby was doing well. The doctor said waiting another week was fine, but should the next week arrive with no baby to come in early that morning for an induction. We also discussed epidurals and C-sections. A little side note: Here in Uganda, epidurals are not the norm. My first two were born without one. The thought of being induced without an epidural terrified me (enough to almost just ask for a C-section). Thankfully, my doctor said that as long as I could pay extra an epidural would be available. A huge sigh of relief from me!
Baby girl was slow to get here but she came in God's timing- and not by induction! By this time I was trying everything I read that might possibly work to get this baby here: eating pineapple (yes, I read that somewhere), spicy foods, lots and lots of walking (especially really steep hills). And all the time tried to keep life as normal as possible. So, Monday, August 10, I took my oldest to swim practice as usual, came home and had a normal evening, then went to bed. Around 1:40 a.m. on the morning of August 11, I felt a bit uncomfortable. A couple of minutes later I felt really uncomfortable. I should probably mention that I have really fast deliveries. I woke up my husband and we "flew" to the hospital. We arrived there pretty quickly only to be left waiting in the reception area. We forgot to call my doctor as we were leaving home, but remembered when we arrived at the hospital. The doctor that was on call that night had an "emergency." Of what type I have no idea because he was hanging out in the reception area the entire time I was waiting. I walked around in intense pain. Finally, I was taken up to the delivery room. I was barely there (about five minutes) when I was ready to push. Two pushes later, baby girl arrived. Total labor and delivery: 1 hour and 10 minutes!
So, while she took her time to get here, once she was ready, she made a quick exit! She's a beautiful, happy baby. She's calm and peaceful, only crying when she's ready to sleep. And already loved by her three big sisters!
Grace! I pray that I extend it to the four treasures God has given me. I pray that they understand the grace that He gives them. I pray that they practice grace in their lives, extending it to others. Tomorrow, I promise, on to grace and discipline. Pray for me as I try to live out grace to my crew: 10, 3, 2, and 8 week old little girls!
So, I'm going to do the Write 31 challenge. If you want to know more about it, head over to here. I thought it would be fun and get me back to blogging regularly. Plus, who doesn't like a challenge once in a while?
So, what is the challenge? I'm to pick a topic and write a post about that topic each day during the month of October! Fun, but also a little intimidating....... My topic, what's it going to be? There are so many things that I would like to write about, but the season of life I'm in right now, it seems appropriate to write something about children.
I've chosen to write about grace and discipline. It's an area of my life that I feel challenged in (hmmmm, a writing challenge writing about a challenge in my life). I desire to be a mom that extends grace to her children, even in times of discipline. I want to be patient and kind and full of compassion. I'm not always good at that.
Before I had children, I thought I was a pretty patient person, ready to extend grace to others. However, children will teach you a thing or two. They will especially show you those sin areas in your life, leaving gaping open exposed holes where you thought you had it together.
So, the writing challenge will also serve as a reminder to me to continue pressing forward to be the kind of mom I want to be. These four young ladies that God has blessed me to call my own, the ones that are constantly leaving their footprints on my heart, I want to extend grace to them continuously. You're welcome to join me on the next 31 days as I'll delve deeper into the area of grace and discipline....... grace filled discipline.
For days I've been quiet. There's little to say. For months I've been in pain but you seem to not notice. You ask why I'm quiet. I say no reason and you go on your way.
The answer is deep, much deeper than you may want to go. I feel like there's no value in me. I feel like I've been crossed off of some checklist, not needed as some would say. I feel like I've been conquered so no place else to go.
Why do I feel not valued? I feel like there's no me. I feel like it's all senseless, all that I have to say. What do you need my opinion for? It's stupid you believe. What sense would it make when it's so different from yours? No meeting of the minds in the middle as everyone tries to make me conform to what they want me to be. I sway here and there until I can't be seen. There's no more me. I'm just a person pushed around to whomever it may be. I feel like there's no need for me.
I've been crossed off the list. That's accomplished. Now on to the next task as she tries to keep up. But not needed, where will she be? If I were to disappear in a crowd or die today, would you miss me? Or would life just go on with the next mountain to scale? Would you remember the good times or only the bad? Would you wish to see me? Or the vapor of me, would be forgotten tomorrow as you push forward with your plans?
The pain is physical. My whole body hurts. The headaches come and go with the stress of making it through the day. The soles of my feet hurt as I walk in the night. My hips feel out of line. My back is barely straight. Do you notice? Do you care? Or do you just walk right by with the next thing on your agenda? Is it too much to bear?
The pain is emotional. Am I too ugly and fat? Is there any importance to me or no time for that? The scars on the inside seem too big to hide. But hide they must so that I can move forward. Once in a while there's a glimpse of that scar. Do you see the beauty in what has been learned so far? Or does it just disgust you and make you want to turn away? They impact the future because they make up me. No place to hide from the giants inside.
The pain is spiritual as God seems so far away. The One who walked beside me yesterday seems to have hidden away. I know He is there, but where to start from afresh. Will He have forgotten me? The burden is heavy. I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Won't You help me to lift it off me? I can hardly look up to You. Won't You please help me?
So, after not being in the U.S. for 7 years, I finally decided it was time to go........ There's so much to say about the trip that I really don't know where to start. I wish I would have blogged while there, so many different things that we did, so many different feelings felt, etc. that's it's hard to put it all into words now. So many months have gone by and it would be just a really long post.
So, I'll stick to the highlights. We stayed with some really amazing people. We were first in Illinois for the first half of our trip and stayed with a wonderful family. The girls decorated their first Easter eggs and had their first Easter egg hunt. We visited ICM (a shelter helping formerly homeless people get back on their feet) and drove past the arch in St. Louis several times. We went to the Children's Museum in St. Louis (my kids had a blast their). The highlight for me was hanging out with great friends and getting to speak the language of sarcasm.
Then it was on to Oklahoma. Again, amazing people. We got to attend Nomads (which I think I wrote about at the very beginning of this blog), did some shopping, and had visitors from Arkansas come up to spend time with us.
All around the trip was great. We didn't do much fundraising but there was a lot of rest and refreshing (which was needed way more than I realized).
I took only about 3 pictures the entire trip so here are a few that I "stole" from FB.
OK, I'll be honest...... 2015 has just been a hard year. A hard year for so many reasons. But, at the same time a growing year, a year that I've really felt God's presence, a year that although it's been difficult, it's also been good.
I think the hard makes it hard to blog. But, maybe it's more of a reason to blog.....a way to process feelings, perhaps? I'm so determined to blog regularly, even if it's just posting a picture, a random thought, or a funny story of the kids.
I wish over the last several years that I would have blogged more, especially for the memories. I feel like there's so much that I want to remember but am afraid that at some point it just won't be in the forefront of my mind any more. There's so much I want to remember of the kids. A lot of thoughts that I wish that I'd shared.
Hopefully, I can do better.
Anyway, I can't really go back and share all the feelings and stories of 2015 (or the last several years), but here are a few of the highlights of 2015:
- being pregnant with baby #3- this was my easiest pregnancy
- birth of baby #3 (that should get its own blog post)
- a trip to the U.S. after 7 years away (that also should get its own post)
- Jurnee and Joelee leaving day care and starting to homeschool
- Jackie joining swim team
- feeling closer to God
- feeling like I've grown spiritually
And some of the ways I feel like I've grown this year:
- learning to not speak so quickly when I'm angry
- learning to pray for/in a situation
- learning to find joy in the little things
- learning to make the most of each moment (still working on this one)
- being content
- learning that I love to bake (and cook in general) and love when people enjoy eating what I've cooked/baked
And some of the things that are a struggle:
- feelings of homesickness
- feeling inadequate
- feeling invisible or insignificant
- feeling like I'm not a good mom
- fearful of dying before my kids are grown up
- feeling like I'm not managing my time well (or that I just don't have enough time)
So, now the good, bad, and ugly are out there. Now you know how to pray for me!
We've tried to create a tradition of decorating the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving (even though Thanksgiving isn't celebrated here in Uganda). It's always fun! We look forward to it with excitement. This Christmas season we had an extra child in the house, one of the students at school who was in her long vacation from primary school waiting to join high school. It was fun to have her with us too!
And of course the kids look forward to Christmas morning with much anticipation. Christmas has become one of my favorite holidays. I love watching the kids open their gifts, seeing their excitement, and then tearing into the toys.
This year (although I neglected to take photos) we also did an advent calendar. We read a story each night leading up to the birth of Christ. Each story had a color sheet to go with it, which was fun since my girls all like to color!
(not real sure ho Joelee got out of her Christmas church dress so fast???)