Saturday, January 25, 2014

Overdressed for Work

Antagonist:
A person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary.
Heavy thinking going on theses days. Mostly about educational issues. It's that time of year when I assess our home education goals and progress. It can get pretty stressful. Coffee in my new red mug and many outdoor walks help keep my poor little mind from having a total meltdown. The task, the progress and the actual implementation just seem insurmountable sometimes. After 14 years of doing this and one kid graduated and in college, I still can feel incapable and unsure. I see the goals. I have a grand new plan. My muscles are warmed up and ready to dive into my creative learning adventure...then the road blocks appear. The flu, the computer won't work, can't find that book anywhere, resistance from the student, interruptions of any and every kind. This is no fun anymore. The towel is in hand and ready to be thrown in. Who is this antagonist?? What is this nasty force that is bound and determined to frustrate and stop our good intentions?? Where does he come from and what is the motive behind his silent war??

I often am more motivated to hunt him down and neutralize the enemy than I am in ignoring him and pressing on with my eyes on the prize. His efforts work on me. Anger, hopelessness and surrender take over and, for a moment...or two or three...I give in. On goes the movie, off goes the alarm clock and I am down for service. Knowing full well that my giving up is futile. As much as I act like "I'm done", it's really just an act I put on for myself. I'm just trying out what it would feel like if I gave up. Giving up stinks. 

It takes awhile before I drag myself off the battle field and into the shelter of recovery. Bloody and aching, I regroup. That feeling of failure is the enemy. One glimpse of his smirking face looming over my wounded schoolhouse is enough to get my dander up. Without any idea of which direction to limp, I just get up. Trying not to think too much about the obstacles, I focus my attention on survival. Food, water and shelter. Math, reading and writing. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing fancy. Sometimes raw. 
I know better and yet I continue to repeat my error. In spiritual battles I need to be aware of the enemy's schemes and my own weaknesses. He knows my addiction to things being pleasurable and home educating isn't always that (sorry if that bit of news already hit the headlines). Home educating can be a spiritual battle. If I try to get too fancy, tempted to go forward doing pirouettes rather than just walking straight and grounded, he'll trip me up. I'll fall full onto a land mine, wishing I had worn my dungarees rather than my tutu. I don't actually own a tutu. It just worked well for the metaphor.

As much as I'd like to home educate with more creativity, flare and fun, sometimes those things get in the way. Sometimes our kids can't handle the frills and just need bare bones teaching. The last think my struggling learner needs right now is for me to impose my twirly educational methods on his struggling brain. It's time to get messy and do hard things. Do the unglamorous work of figuring out his unseen obstacle and help him around it. The Antagonist hates that. He wants me dancing around the battle field thinking it's a stage or playground. What I really desire is victory not pleasure...although there is great pleasure in victory...it just has to be paid for first. 

" All pleasure must be bought at a price. For true pleasure, the price is paid before you enjoy it. For false pleasure, the price is paid after."-Ravi Zacharias


I've changed my clothes and remembered my directive. It's time to jump back into the invisible battle, this time, leaving the Antagonist to fight alone...without help from me.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

D is for the Vitamin, Doors and Do Something

 
Most people dread January. The let down from Christmas is tough, the weather is controlling and the sun is strictly rationed...the Christmas bills hang over us in it's place.The flu makes it's grand entrance and restricts our social interaction. We forget that Spring, Summer and Fall exist and will return.

Tough month. 

There is a Bible verse for January:
 "Making the most of your time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16

January. Evil days :) How do we make the most of them? 

I have come to appreciate this month as a month of rest. If bad roads, little money and the flu are going to make me house bound, then take the forced break. There are so many things the busy months restrict me from doing. January is the time to do them. Seize the month! There is plenty of snow for snowshoeing, plenty of time to think about and re-organize my school year and many nooks and crannies that call for cleaning. Soup and chowder recipes waiting to be tried and movies and books I've wanted to cuddle with the kids and experience. That sewing machine has been waiting to be discovered. Blank white canvases crying for color. Fill the house with music and do something different. Make January special because it is a gift from God. Don't join the ranks in complaints and grumblings about when we are. As my Dad always says, "We are here because we are here." Profound in a simple way. 

There are things we can do to help ourselves...that we don't...because we like to be miserable. And things we should stop doing...that we don't...because we like to be miserable. I have made a checklist. A deeply profound, researched and revolutionary list. Never before heard of.
play music
don't eat junk food
 exercise
get up early
don't stay up late
keep your mind busy learning
get outside often...even if it's nasty out
take vitamin D
help someone other than yourself
read your Bible...every day...a couple of times

Ok, you may have heard of these things before, but sometimes we forget and need a little reminder. The word "January" comes from the Greek god Janus and is a Latin word meaning "doorway". Doors are meant to be opened and entered through, discovering something on the other side. Make your own list of specific things you can discover, accomplish and enjoy this winter, because yours may have things like study math, read Shakespeare, build a ship-in-a-bottle or go vegan...things I would never dream of doing by choice.

You don't have to go out or spend money to enjoy life. Remember where and when you are and who gave you January...be grateful and do something wonderful with it.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fresh Serenity

 

I'm going to try to wash the bedsheets more often. That's my new years resolution.

Not that they really need it, it just occurred to me that other people wash them like, every month. All of them...every month. I must confess, I missed that rule when I set up our domestic situation 23 years ago. Are my kids just less dirty than others? I dunno. For some reason though, I feel like it has been a burden...this little secret of mine.  So, I am coming out of the linen closet and telling the world. I change all the bed sheets maybe 3 or 4 times a year. Please don't think less of me. Maybe it's because we don't eat in bed? I can't figure it out. I think I'll feel more...acceptable, if I up the ante this year. I'll let you know how my life changes in 2014, with this new, nocturnally pristine me.

I also chose this resolution because it's doable. This is something I can put my everything into and tackle with great determination. I may need someone to remind me though. I have a very short attention span, so unless coffee gets spilled on the bed or something, it could get overlooked again. There are just some things in life that unintentionally slip down the priority list. Finding things to improve your life, then unsuccessfully pursuing them is disappointing to say the least. Even being the optimist that I am, I have come to realize that the slogan "you can do anything if you just set your mind to it" is bologna.  Life has limits, our resources are rationed and roadblocks are immoveable sometimes. People get sick, lose things and are often compelled to live a life they might never have chosen. So...true resolve and character identifies what can be changed and sets the mind on those things...forgetting previous dreams.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

 Wow. That's what I'm going for. To be able to pray this sincerely.

Even if the furniture and bed sheets are the only things I can change at the moment, then I shall change them. What happens in this new year is out of my control, but how I ride the wave is up to me. God is always good, He loves me perfectly and eternally. Trust. Obey. Peace.

To be strong and humble enough to stop chasing the ideal life and accept what is given. To find my joy in Him alone is my goal for today, tomorrow and this year. And to change the bed sheets more often.