The truth about DISCIPLINE

I used to always think of discipline as punishment or the consequences of poor choices.  You know, that thing you do to your kids when they fail to put their laundry away after you’ve told them fifteen times.   As I grow older, however, I am realizing that that is such a small facet of what discipline really is.

There are a few areas in my life that I feel are a daily practice of discipline.  Teaching me, stretching me, making me more than I was the day before.

Exercise.

I almost don’t even have to say more about it, am I right?!

exercise

I have these grand ideas of eating healthy and exercising daily while my body morphs into supermodel qualities and I lightly glisten from my efforts.  Reality hits me in the face when the sun peeks through my curtains at 6:15, waking me up and reminding me of my lofty goals.  I roll out of bed and pull back the curtains, hoping with all that is in me that it is pouring down rain so that my excuse for not running is logistical in nature and not emotional.  9.5 times out of 10, it is sunny with no rain, so I grab my workout clothes, ruthlessly wake Cam to join in my torture, then get ready.  I drink some water, eat a quick bite of something, grab my iPod that is loaded with fabulous music from every era, and walk into the stairwell, where I am hit in the face with breath-taking humidity, effectively moving me past the glistening stage of sweat into the full out, dripping down my back stage, down 4 flights, to the beautiful scenery in which I am lucky to live.  Our complex has a circle road, lined with towering palm trees and tropical blooms, that is exactly 1.1km around.  Perfect for measuring how far you hope to run.  The goal:  6.6km.  About 0.3km in, my body tells me it is no longer fun and that I should quit running.  It takes so much discipline to press on.  Over and over I ask myself, “Does anything hurt?”  If my answer is no then I know my desire to quit is purely mental and I have no true reason to walk.  This goes on over and over for 5 laps.  I tell Cam, while gasping for life-giving breath, that I just don’t have another lap in me.  It’s his turn for ruthlessness, so he tells me, at the finish line of our 6th lap (for those of you not familiar with km, that is a little more than 4 miles) to sprint.  Give it all I have to the end of the building.  I shoot daggers, lift my head, and sprint, knowing I can give 20 more seconds.

Discipline.  We can do hard things without quitting if we set our hearts on the prize and cry out to Jesus with every single step.  And if we do quit, we can start again tomorrow.   Grace.

prayerless

Quiet Time.  It’s always been a practice of discipline.  Always.

Why is this one so hard?  I mean, I know why.  The enemy is prowling and what an easy win for him!  We are armed with this knowledge yet continue to allow the devil to take this time from us.  I made a rule for myself that I cannot get on my computer until I have spent time reading the Word and talking to Father.  I made the same rule for my girls.  It has made it easier not to get sidetracked by the world, but then I have the battle that is in my mind.  You know, when you start to pray and next thing you know you are daydreaming about the cake you want to bake later in the day.  Or the cupcakes you ate the night before that were so good.  Or when you are reading scripture and realize you have no idea what it is saying because your mind is elsewhere.  It takes so much energy and effort to focus on the King and give Him what He is due, what He is worth.  Discipline.

And I will be honest with you, the days that I leave my quiet time feeling renewed and refreshed and like I am leaving His very presence, those days are the hardest days.  Those are the days that Satan pulls out all the stops and starts attacking.  I can feel my mood shift and anger start to rise at the smallest things.  He is no dummy.  If I feel like that after a good devotion, then maybe I will just stop.  He doesn’t seem to attack so hard on the days I fail to pray.   However, there is joy in persevering and doing what is right, regardless of the results.

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I can go on and on about the ways and areas in which He is teaching me to discipline myself (marriage, motherhood, ministry, to name a few), to push myself out of my comfort zones so that I can bring Him the most glory.  I believe that life on this side of Glory is itself an area that requires an inordinate amount of discipline to live well as a Believer.  Thankfully we are all in this together!

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5 Reasons why I lost touch

There are always good reasons in my mind for the reasons why I don’t carve time out to blog.  I thought I would share a few with you so that you, dear friend, can be my encourager.5 reasons

5.  My life feels uninteresting.  Sometimes life over here is just as mundane as life everywhere else.  My days get filled to the brim with homeschooling all the little ducklings that swim around my feet and dinner preparations where every little thing has to be made with love from nothing.  There are days when cooking dinner feels a bit like I imagine it would have felt to look over the vast emptiness of the universe and start to create wonderfully elaborate and creative things as a human not as God who can do ALL things with just a whisper, of course.

4.  My mind is mush and there are no words left.  You know how it is at the end of a long day, when your children have been asking questions all day and your husband needs attention and love and someone unexpectedly shows up for dinner.  When the moment comes at the end of the day, when all is calm and quiet, it takes everything I have to stay awake until an acceptable time for an adult to go to bed.

3.  The pressure to write something witty and engaging is too daunting a task, so I don’t even try.  Yep.  That’s true.  I will remember this when I tell my girls to just try when they really don’t think they can do something.

2.  I feel like a gross imposter.  I want to be able to write an account of all the marvelous things I did for the Lord and how many times I shared His name and how He moved in my world.  But, honestly, a lot of times I can’t do that.  I can tell you how I didn’t bite my girls heads off when they failed their tests and claimed it as my most successful moment of the day.  Or I could tell you about the one child who admitted to peeing from one end of the shower to the other side of the shower because it could hit the wall and how when I heard that, I put my hand on my face and wondered how they will ever get married.  Then there was the time when the stove burner was turned on while a pan of brownies was sitting on top, ruining the pan that was my Grandmas and ruining all the brownies!  Sometimes the only marvelous thing I do all day is survive, hopefully with more grace than the day before.

1. The Enemy is near.  Hands down, this is the number ONE reason I stay away from sharing my thoughts and my heart.  I have never felt the kind of warfare that I have felt since moving to this side of the world, nor would I have ever imagined the frequency.  I can feel myself slipping into a place that is cold and ugly.  A place filled with doubts and lies that must be crawled out of by sheer will.  I know that I am not alone in that pit, but He trusts me to be able to bear so much more than what feels possible.  There have been some wrestling matches with the Father that I fought with tooth and nail to resist what He was telling me to do, rather than to just let go and let Him carry me into His perfect plan.  When I get to this place, this awful, shameful place, I go silent.  If you could see my face, you would see the tears streaming down my cheeks as I fight against curling up and quitting.  It is here, at this point, that He sends reinforcements and we start all over again.  Sometimes YOU are the reinforcement He uses, sometimes it is chocolate cake.  It is always welcomed and received with gratefulness.

So there you have it.  Five reasons I fall off the face of the planet for weeks at a time.  Hopefully it won’t be so long this time.

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Nifty Fifties!

sockhop1In our city we have four families that all use the same curriculum and are on the same school timeline, so we meet together each week for a co-op.  The relationships that have grown from our time together have been evidence to Father’s faithfulness to my girls, and I am so grateful!  At the end of our most recent unit, we decided to throw a party to celebrate all that the kids had learned.  You know me and parties…I was beyond excited!sockhop3Each child chose a person they wanted to research and then presented their person to us through poster, speech, and/or poetry.  The whole “convincing my girls that they shouldn’t be scared to talk in front of their friends” thing was by far the hardest part of this celebration.  Public speaking is new and terrifying to them, which is what made this the perfect event to participate in!sockhop4Gracie gave a speech on the history of computers.  She did a great job writing her speech (the second attempt was great…the first not so much) and presenting it.  Good eye contact and interesting details.  I actually learned some things I never knew about these machines I am so dependent upon!

Ellie chose Rosa Parks and told us how she was significant to the Civil Rights movement using props to retell the story.  She may have added a few details that were more “Ellie” than fact, but I couldn’t have been more proud of the work she put into her project!

Faith researched John F. Kennedy and made some cool interactive parts to her poster to show his life.  She recited an emotional moving poem about his life that talked of how important he was to giving us all equal rights.  She memorized it and presented it with great confidence.  I think she was channeling her dream of one day being a performer!

scokhop2Faith has some great friends her age that make her feel loved and special.  These are some special guys in her life that are a direct answer to her prayer for real friends in China.  She told me not too long ago that she loves being here because she has so many friends!  I haven’t shared with many her struggles with living overseas, but she has had the hardest time of all my girls.  Her heart hasn’t been here until recently.  The day she told me she was thankful we are here brought tears to my eyes and an overwhelming peace in my heart that whispered, “I have this.  I love her more than you could ever imagine loving her.”sockhop5A Sock Hop isn’t a Sock Hop unless you wear full, fluffy skirts.  We scored some dresses online that weren’t at all what we expected but worked out perfectly, and I made my skirt quickly the night before because my online experience was a major fail.  Faith and Ellie borrowed some incredibly high heels from a local friend to complete their outfits and make their presentations more fun than scary.  It took a week of practice to be able to walk in a semi-normal way, though Ellie still looked a bit like a colt taking his first steps after birth.  Instant entertainment for all!sockhop6Our party had a Soda Shoppe complete with a Soda Jerk, homemade ice cream, and imported American sodas!!  The line was long and didn’t dwindle until the sodas were gone.  These American kiddos got a taste of home and couldn’t get enough!sockhop7Cupcakes, popcorn, leftover Valentine candy, and beautifully decorated sugar cookies (from my talented friend Katie) completed the sugar overload.sockhop9To burn off the energy and calories we all consumed, we danced to some rocking’ tunes from the 50s.  I think we all decided that it may be our favorite era of music!  We learned some sweet dance moves and all felt the soreness the day after from using muscles that aren’t used to moving like that!sockhop8And to complete the festivities…the Limbo!!  I remember when my body was bendy.  It isn’t anymore, but I sure enjoyed watching joy radiate from all the kiddos as they played!

The celebration party was a complete success and worth every drop of sweat and tears that went into making it happen.  These kids (and us mamas!) have worked hard this school year and to tangibly see the fruits of our efforts while watching our babies with the biggest smiles imaginable was priceless!

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