Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Enough is enough... Really it is!

I've just spent the last couple of weeks pouring over curriculum catalogs and websites...  You'd think that after 14 years of homeschooling, I'd have made up my mind what to use.  The problem is, no two kids are alike and new materials are coming out every year.  But the biggest reason that I'm making a change this year is that I'm spending too much time planning each week.  It's not uncommon for me to have to work 3-5 hours on the weekend just to be ready for the next week.  Enough is enough.

As a recovering perfectionist, it always seems to me that there is more that I should be doing for my kids.  Planning their work and preparing just the right lessons had begun to consume me, much to the chagrin of my family.  I've  come to the point where I must admit, it's just not working for me.  I love my old curriculum, but at this season of my life, I can't afford the time it takes.  So the search began.  How to find a curriculum with the educational value I want, without all the hours of preparation?  I had to find the balance of "enough".  I've settled on something that will give my kids enough history, math, language arts, science and supplemental learning without ruining our life.

I don't know about you, but when I think about the word "enough," it has a negative connotation.  Maybe because it is often preceded by the phrase, "not good."  Enough always seems to be the amount that is just getting by.  A disappointed second place...enough.


adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire: enough water; noise enough to wake the dead.

an adequate quantity or number; sufficiency.

in a quantity or degree that answers a purpose or satisfies a need or desire; sufficiently.
1. ample. 3. adequately, amply, reasonably.

According to these entries, I should be satisfied with enough.  It says that enough is "adequate; sufficient for the purpose..."  Perhaps I've fallen victim to the mindset that I must have more than enough, an over-abundance of something to feel secure.  Could the consumer mentality have crept in even here?  Maybe so.  If I have enough ingredients to make cookies, don't I end up with perfectly good cookies?  More than enough does me no good.  It may even be wasted.

In thinking about "enough," I've discovered that my subconscious aversion to it has tainted a well-known Christian song, Your Grace Is Enough, by Chris Tomlin.  We sing it quite often but I can't help feeling that old skin-of-my-teeth enough.  That's not the meaning of the song.  God's grace is enough; adequate; sufficient for the purpose..  The need of my sin was adequately met by the blood of Jesus. 

So in my journey to a more simple life, I must embrace enough.  I have enough possessions.  I have enough food to eat.  I have enough time to do what needs to be done.  And by the time my children leave my home school, they will have learned enough.  But most importantly, God's grace is enough to cover all my sin, all my failings, and all my need.  Jesus is enough.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Learning to Enjoy the View of the Valley

Today is one of those days...  a day where I have more questions than answers.  A day where the journey ahead seems a bit too long.  This is a day that I struggle to enjoy the view.

I have a dear friend who is suffering an illness that is taking her away from me.  It's taking her away from everyone - even herself.  It's scary.  I feel helpless.  I want to fix it but can't.

It's days like this that knock me off my feet and make me wish for heaven.  The longer I live, the more I yearn for all of the pain in this life to be over.  Growing up was supposed to fix all the longings in my heart.  Now, there seem to be more longings, not less.  I wanted a world were everyone was loved, where families stayed together, where no one got sick, and only ancient saints were called to heaven.  I wanted heaven on earth.  But we're not there yet, and God in His wisdom is not bound by my fleeting emotions.

Days like this tempt me to hide in my shell.  To play Scarlet O'Hara and "..think about it tomorrow."  To turn off my emotions so I don't feel the pain.  But that's not living.  Being alive is feeling everything - joy as well as pain.  I've spent far too many seasons of my life pushing hard emotions aside.  I've used denial as a means of survival.  I don't want to live like that anymore.

How can I accept the blessings of God and not endure the pain?  How can I ask for the mountain top but refuse the lessons of the valley?  How can I depend on a faithful God, if there is no need for faith?  How can Jesus be my Prince of Peace if there is no chaos?  Ah, but there is pain and loss and chaos.  So will I run to the One who holds all of life in His hands or will I pull the covers over my head and curse the darkness?

Days like these demand that I call on the One who I profess to be my Good Shepherd, the Vine, and Lover of my Soul.  Days like these allow the Holy Spirit to be my Comforter and Friend.  Opening myself up to the pain is the only way that the Healing can come in.  It's worth the risk.  Jesus is Faithful and True.  He is the Way and the Life.

So I will feel the pain of today for I am alive to feel it.  I may not have all the answers, but what I do know is this:  God is good and I am loved.   That's the only way to enjoy the view...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Looking at Jesus with New Eyes

One thing that makes us unique as individuals is the way we see the world around us.  If you ask three people about the same movie, you are likely to get three very different answers.  Did they really see the same move?  Of course, but each one interpreted what they saw based on who they are and what life experiences shaped them up to this point.  Each one has a different "world view."

All of us have a world view.  We may not call it that, but its the way that we personally see the world.  Everything we are flows out of our world view.  It affects how we receive information and it also colors how we give out information.  There are many things that contribute to the formation of our world view such as culture, economic status, family make-up, education, and even how far one's traveled from home.   Knowing a bit about someones world view helps a great deal in understanding what they say and what they do.  It serves as a framework to interpreting the full content of their message and intentions.

So why is that important?  Well, if I don't know a persons world view, I will be inclined to interpret what I hear by my world view.  This can cause a wrong interpretation of the message completely.  For example, let's take the biblical example of "turn the other cheek."  My Christian world view says that this is an exercise in humility and grace, while a non-Christian world view may see this as weakness and foolishness.  This is a basic example that is pretty obvious.  But what about other subtle world view differences. 

Recently, I picked up a book called, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg.  I've only gotten a few chapters read but already I can see new insights into the world view of Jesus.  The place and time, culture and faith of Jesus colored the way He spoke to the people.  New Testament scholars wrote the Scriptures based on their world view as well and assumed that the readers would share that world view. 

One insight that I found personally exciting was the fact that,

"women were encouraged to sit in on the advanced discussions at the synagogue if they were able.  A few even acquired the high-level education required to contribute to rabbinic debates, and their words are still on record.  Some restrictions on women, like separating men and women during worship, actually arose several centuries later."

Mary of Bethany was one of those women.  We always see her at the feet of Jesus.  Now I know that she was a true disciple.  I love that.

The authors go on to say,

"If you were a first-century Jew, you probably would have heard a saying in circulation for at least a hundred years: 'Let your house be a meeting place for the rabbis, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily.'"[Mishnah, Pirke Avot (Sayings of the Fathers) 1:4.]

That's exactly what Mary and Martha chose to do.  Just these two bits of Jewish culture give such richness to the women in Jesus' life that I already admire.  I'm looking forward to more understanding in the days to come.

I agree with Paul when he said,

...that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ,  

in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.

Colossians 2:2-3 (ASV)

There is so much to learn about the mystery of God.  True disciples are the ones that sit close enough to the rabbi to learn.  The mysteries of Jesus are not hidden so no one will find them. They are hidden so that the diligent and hungry will search and find them!   It's kind of like hiding Easter eggs from your kids.  When they are little, the eggs are practically in plain sight.  But as the kids get older, more creative hiding places are needed.  Not because we don't want the eggs to be found - that would be a sticky disaster.  There is joy is searching and finding.  God's knows us.  It is His delight to reveal things hidden.  And they are all to be found in Jesus!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Let the River Flow

I love when God surprises me.  It happens quite a lot.  There are times when the Lord brings things into my little by little.  He moves so gently that I don't even realize it.  Remember this pacesetter post?  I guess it's time to put my money where my mouth is...

Today, I met with a young woman who wants me to be her mentor.  I was blown away when she asked me.  What a huge responsibility.  My first (unspoken) response was, "Who me?  What do I have to offer?" (That's been my enemies favorite lie.  I will fight it all my life.)  But as I prayed about it, I realized that God has been preparing me for this for many years.  I even found a book on my shelf about women's mentoring ministry that's been there for about 12 years....unused.

With all that's going on in my life, will I really be able to give what's needed to keep up my end of this relationship?  I must trust that this is God's timing.  He will enable me to give what He wants me to give.  He is my resource.  He is my strength.  Any fears I have about being a mentor come when I'm thinking about using my strengths, my knowledge, and my ability.  That wont do this sweet woman any good.  It's in taking what our gracious Lord has given me, and passing it on.  Why learn all those hard lessons?  Not just for my own benefit.  They become blessings when I can share them with others.

“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!

For the Scriptures declare,

‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

- Jesus, from John 7:37-39 (NLT)

If the Lord's Spirit is within me, but there's no out-flow, I become a stagnant pool like the Dead Sea.  The life giving water will turn to death, benefiting no one.  It's my hearts desire to let Jesus's living water flow through me and into another.  Not only do I benefit, but so do those around me.  What a better way to build the Kingdom of God.

(Thanks, Cindy!)