"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you."
-Philippians 4:9

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Balance...

...it's a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately. Probably because I've been feeling particularly UNbalanced!

There have been so many changes in my life in the last two years: changing states, changing employment for hubby, changing from house-dwelling to rv-dwelling, changing financial status, changing views on what is and is not my calling as a wife/mom/homeschooler/Christian... the list goes on. Most of these changes have required a letting-go in some area or another. A relaxing of my grip on the reins of my life and a relinquishing of my illusions of what I can, in fact, control.

It has left me wondering if I've relaxed a little *too* much. Through all the change, I have seen quite clearly that I am in charge of pretty much nothing. I cannot control weather, cannot control circumstances, cannot control whether employment opportunities arise, cannot control what others think of my decisions, cannot control my children...so I stopped trying to control those things. Well, in honesty, I *started trying* to stop trying to control them. Does that make sense? And it has been a different "giving up" than had happened previously; I had thrown up my hands in frustration and depression years back and quit trying in a number of areas -- things like caring for myself, bothering to find outside interests, etc. This is different. It's more of a learning to take what comes and work with it rather than continuously laying plans and trying to squash timelines, circumstances, and people into them. But...

Part of that has involved not planning so much. I used to be a notebook-in-hand, life-by-a-schedule kind of girl. Depression hit and I became a "who cares, anyway" kind of a girl. Worked through that, among other things, and now I'm wondering where the balance lies. I don't want to go back to being bound by the clock, driven by urgent demands (generally placed on myself by myself), and frantically racing through each day to get some arbitrarily set list of tasks completed, barking orders like a drill sergeant with no time to play and teach and enjoy the process, and feeling like a failure when I...well...FAIL. It has become clear, however, that NO planning leads to an equal amount of frustration. Especially when grandparents are around that want to be involved in their grandkids lives but also have schedules of their own to be considered (geez, don't they know the very universe is supposed to revolve around the grandkids??). :P

Seriously, though, I'm trying to find that balance between planning and allowing those plans to have wiggle room. Or room to be blown up altogether at the last minute without me blowing up with them. I'm trying to learn to balance working on my relationship with my husband with working on my relationship with my Jesus and my relationships with my kids and developing relationships with new people (never easy for me). I'm trying to balance freedom in homeschooling and experiential learning with some schedule for the basics to be handled. It would seem that I'm an all-or-nothing kind of gal whether being driven or totally relaxed. Somewhere between the two is a mid-ground. A place where plans are made, but are okay to be broken. Where kids are given the freedom to be who they are, but also guided to responsible handling of time, relationships, possessions, and learning. Where the things of the Spirit are wound all around and through everything that is said and done each day without being forced artificially to the forefront via some prescribed program. Where the marriage is the primary relationship in the home and is given its proper care and nurture, but has room to include the kids gracefully even when "alone" time was expected. Where the family is the primary calling, but has room to include friendships and reaching out to new people.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm trying to let go and allow the Spirit to mold me into who He wants me to be without becoming lazy about my part in that: someone characterized by love first and foremost, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. Discipline without seizing control. Order without heavy-handedness. Instruction without demanding. Love without hypocrisy. Joyful play without neglecting responsibility. Balance. It's an elusive thing...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Friend Said it Better...

...than I ever could have. At least in as few words as she used! :P

So...I'm going to just send you over to Melanie at Seeking Contentment, let you read her blog (and my overly-long comment to it), and enjoy the pics that follow here.

Arriving at Downtown Disney
Our 1920's mobster later found a perfect carnation to add to his ensemble. Thanks, Disney gardeners!


Racing Cars at the Lego Store
All the kids worked on one car as wheels were scarce. So fun to watch them work together, not bicker over who would have the privelege of "launching" it in the race, and then cheer the Jamesmobile on to the finish line.

Super Silliness
Daddy was buying an awesome caramel apple for the parents to share. Much silliness ensued.
We thoroughly enjoyed our First Annual Family "Rock or Treat." It takes its name from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." The Peanuts all go trick-or-treating and at each house, the same scenario is repeated: "I got a chocolate bar"..."I got taffy"..."I got a ROCK!" Good grief, Charlie Brown!
Dan and I were discussing the cons of Halloween with the kids (selfishness, demanding, retaliation, gore, pagan history, etc.) and the pros of the modern celebration forms (dress-up, sharing, creativity, gift-giving, fun, laughter, family togetherness, helping one another, showing thankfulness). We explained that we were, indeed, going to dress up this year and start a new family celebration that parallelled the Halloween celebration forms but was rooted in different values (thanks, early church, for the idea...). Yes, I thoroughly understand that some will see this as justification, compromise, whatever. No, I'm not going to spend time here defending our decision. Suffice it to say that we want our kids to think prayerfully and critically for themselves and determine what they will and will not participate in based on their own convictions rather than the dictates of anyone else. But I digress...
...to continue: it became apparent that the phrase "trick or treat" didn't really fit in with what our family was celebrating. Few phrases so effectively combine threats of malicious intent with demands for gratification as this one. But what could we use that would mean thankfulness, silliness, fun, and gratitude for gifts freely offered (which they were where we took the kids)? The discussion continued throughout breakfast until Michael said, " I know. We can tell people thank you for their gift; we'll accept it if it's candy or rocks. Whatever. We'll say thank you for it all." That was a little long-winded for the purpose, so we began trying to shorten it.
End result: "Rock or Treat" combined with "Thank you!"
***Edit: I know the spacing in the last paragraphs is funky. I can't get blogger to accept line spacing between paragraphs or even indention spacing. I'm sorry. It's driving me nuts!