5 Great Lessons after the Exodus

I have been deliberate about making sure our children read the entire Bible after returning home from a children’s workshop in which the following statement was made: the average American who considers him/ herself a Christian has never read the entire Bible.   Not even once.  This statement put into perspective for me so much about why people who are raised in church can operate so differently on Monday-Saturday.   It also was a stark and painful reminder of my own earliest adult years, when it became obvious through my own life that while church attendance is important, it would not, in and of itself, sustain me as a Christian.    Yet, ironically enough, when I began our original study of the entire Bible with the older two, I made very conscious decisions to skip certain portions.    Moses as an author?  Too boring once the Ten Commandments were handed down.  One prophet sounded similar to another, so why cover them all?  Same premise with the Gospels: as an adult I know that the four authors had different perspectives in what they shared and why, but I wanted to press onward.   I say all of this tongue-in-cheek, but my real “eye” for what we covered was, what would keep it interesting/ engaging for the children?   Bear in mind also that the kids were much younger when we began this first journey.   I’ve since realized the arrogance of that decision.   All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2nd Timothy 3:16).   So, this trip around, with the oldest on her own and the youngest in tow, we are reading each and every Word.

We are in the last chapters of Exodus right now, studying the making of the tabernacle—down to the cubit.   After we read, I ask the children, “What is God saying to us today?”   The youngest says some version of this answer: “Well, like we talked about before, the Lord is into details and wants order.”   Her tone says it all: ‘I’m tired of reading about cubits and acacia wood, and if I see one more piece of purple/red/blue cloth…’   I feel her.   After all, it wasn’t too long ago that I chose to skip this portion of scripture entirely.   But, as the Shepherd so often does, He leads His sheep to great places in our studies—if we hang in there with Him.   Here are five lessons that I’ve discovered from our reading—repeatedly–about cubits and wood:

1)      The Lord uses ordinary people and equips them with what they need.   Bezaleel and Aholiab were given positions of tremendous responsibility, but, as the Word says, God filled them with the Spirit (first!), and skills, abilities, knowledge, and all manners of workmanship.  Did they come empty-handed?  No.  Aholiab was a craftsman from the tribe of Dan.   But their ordinary gifts in the extraordinary hands of the Master produced an awesome work.   In fact, Bezaleel’s name is still mentioned in modern-day culture regarding design firms and architecture of all sizes.

2)      The importance of operating in mercy toward one another.   Once the frame for the tabernacle was built, the first piece of furniture to follow was the mercy seat.   I personally think this is significant.   God thought it was most important; we should see it as important, too, and use this lesson as a model for how we treat others.  Mercy requires that we believe the best in people, that we give them the benefit of the doubt, and that we truly embrace James 1:19–slow to speak, slow to anger (please, Lord Jesus), and quick to listen (again, please, Lord Jesus).

3)      There is unprecedented favor and anointing when you operate in your assignment. These two men, Bezaleel and Aholiab, were the lead construction engineers, in modern-day terms.  We never hear from them again.  They might have been called upon as leaders to give direction or expertise, but they didn’t use their influence and sphere of control to try and replace Moses; they weren’t looking to become priests.   They operated in what was their assignment, with marvelous results.   Recently, I have had the opportunity to do some freelance writing that I would have enjoyed, and I thought that because the information was presented to me—indirectly—it must have been for me.   But God gave me a Word through our pastor about the danger of stepping out from under the covering of Christ, even when it appears to be a good thing.   I knew almost immediately that I needed to reconsider.

4)      In all things, God wants our best.   When you read the word gold, there is an imagery that strikes the mind, or at least, that strikes my mind: fancy, elegant, eye-catching, and expensive. This was a portable tent, for goodness’ sake!  Linen can be fancy, too, but what’s with the purple, blue, and red?   Well, our history studies tell us that purple was a very expensive dye color to prepare.   To make it, you had to crack open a shellfish called a trumpet shell.   Because of the expense of this process, purple (and its derivatives, I imagine) was only available to royalty.  Remember that Lydia (Acts 16:14-15) was a dealer of purple cloth, from which you could infer that she had a certain amount of influence in the city.  I believe in part that that’s why her baptism was significant—she was a person that others noticed.

5)      Be obedient to what God places in your heart.   I am often amazed when a person says, “God spoke to me and said…,” or after praying for me, the person will say, “The Lord says…”   I can’t help but wonder how they know it was God who spoke to them.   I have this image of burning bushes or doves or some other miraculous show of God’s presence.   Yet, my own experience with God “speaking” to me is the same as Watchman Nee described in his The Spiritual Man: God speaks through our conscious and our intuition, and even in our subconscious dreams,
confirming it through His Word (which is why it’s sooooo important to actually read the Bible and know what it says).   Too many times, we dismiss what goes through these psychological venues, and it’s how we can easily miss a God move.   In these final chapters, the Lord gave Bezaleel and Aholiab wisdom to construct the temple, but He also gave the people a heart to give, providing for the construction.   That person that we always think about is an opportunity to intercede for them in prayer; that idea that keeps us up at night can be the beginning of a thriving and successful business.  Don’t discount the gentle tugging at your heart to do something; it could be the key to unlocking a blessing.

I know that there are great books out there for children that cover the Bible and have fun activities to help children with learning.   But I struggle with these in the same way that I struggle with many of the bells and whistles that are increasingly becoming a part of our youth and children’s ministry, as well as ministries across the country.  I talk more about that in article I wrote here.   I don’t think God’s Word needs ostentation, and at some point, all the videos, games and toys can be a distraction from the meat of the Word.  In our home, we read, we discuss, and I believe God to grow those planted seeds.   Our closing prayer over our Bible study has been the same for years now, as originally stated by a pastor of ours: ‘May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of His Holy Word, and may it instruct and inspire us in both our public and private lives.’   I trust Him to do just that.   And while the kids will prayerfully have many years to read the Word again and again on their own, I do want to model 2nd Timothy 3:16 in our home as training for what they should do in homes of their own.

Can’t wait to see what the Lord does for us when we get to Numbers (yikes).

The Hunger Games: A New Classic?

According to Wikipedia, in 1920, Fannie M. Clark, a teacher at the Rozelle School in East Cleveland, Ohio, attempted to answer the question of what makes a book a classic.   She consulted a group of eighth-graders and asked the following question: “What do you understand by the classics in literature?”Answers included “classics are books your fathers give you and you keep them to give to your children” and “Classics are those great pieces of literature considered worthy to be studied in English classes of high school or college”.   ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classic_book)

Our son began a path of reading over a couple of years ago that began with Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians and eventually led him through all of Riordan’s writings, as well as Riordan’s suggestions for adolescent reading.    When he initially read The Hunger Games and, in sheer fascination, began to tell me about it, I was somewhat indifferent.   My reaction had nothing to do with him; I’m just not very auditory, so I struggled with the concept in spite of his enthusiasm.

When the movie version of The Hunger Games was released, our son just had to go, so he and dad went together for some ol’ fashioned man time.    Dad came back not saying much, except that he didn’t really appreciate the idea behind the movie.    But our son, having already read through all the books in the series, came home with an ecstatic glow.   So later, when the DVD hit the shelves, I thought I’d surprise him.   I still hadn’t watched the movie for myself.

For those of you who might be totally unfamiliar with this book-turned-blockbuster, The Hunger Games is a steampunk -styled movie (son  introduced me to a new word as well, so I thought I’d share) about a period in our future when, because of a civilian uprising against the capitalist powers-that-be, the common man must now pay a yearly pennance.   The pennance requires each of twelve territories, or regions, as the movie refers to them, to send a child or adolescent to compete in a manhunt against one another until there is only one winner.   This manhunt, entitled the “Hunger Games,” is a televised event and is performed for the sheer enjoyment of the well-to-do, who also have the power to “help” a favored competitor with additional weaponry or other aids.   (Imagine being able to give a bit of Gatorade or more expensive shoes to your favorite Olympian and you’re there).

Not too long ago, a neighbor came by.   We began to talk about movies in general, and then about the general void of quality viewing for a person who just wants to see a good family movie with a moral and not too much adult humor (or lack thereof).    Her reaction to The Hunger Games was very different than my husband’s or my son’s, and far more intense.    She recalled a number of emotions ranging from tears to shock at thought of children being killed for sport.    (To the credit of the movie’s director, etc., none of the deaths were portrayed in graphic form, and the scenes of death or violence were not gratuitous, but instead, consistent with the plot of the movie).    Given the three markedly different reactions to the movie, I found myself  intrigued.

I didn’t know what to expect, and admittedly, I wasn’t sure this was the movie for me.   As a parent, I tend to be overly sensitive to movies where children are in any way mistreated (as an example, I could only get through a few early scenes of Mel Gibson’s Ransom), so I reserved the right to stop watching it at any time.   Also, admittedly I’d not read the book, and I was leery of committing the cardinal literary sin of judging the book by the movie.   Yet, having viewed it, I was left pondering–not tearful, not emotionally aghast, not “freaked out,” for lack of a better word.   Just thoughtful.   What was I thinking about?    The fact that this movie was shown in two of the oldest’s government/ history classes at college.   I also thought about the powerful statement that the movie makes about how easily we can be lulled  into an alternate sense of reality and become desensitized to the world around us–a world where so many are hurting and in despair.

Given my obsession fascination with the question of how books become classics, I was also intrigued by the similarities between this book and what I’ve heard about George Orwell’s 1984, another book that I’ve not actually read.   When I found this article regarding what makes a book a classic, I found it interesting that the author used 1984 as an example of  a book that stands the test of time.   The author begins here:

For a book to become a classic, it must have a timeless theme, one that all people of all eras are able to relate to. Classics also may have an element of novelty; they are the first time a certain writing technique has been experimented with or the first time an author has discussed an important theme. They are books that people remember because of the quirky characters who are like real people revealed over the course of the novel. The authors often will use descriptive language to draw the reader into the setting and time period. But most of all, they have proven to be something special because they have endured over all the years, standing the test of time.

To be sure, The Hunger Games is not 1984.   1984‘s classic imagery of “Big Brother,” who watched every man’s every move, is now a part of our cultural literacy; even people who’ve never heard of George Orwell are familiar with the phrase “Big Brother is watching. ”   From the article I mentioned above, I learned that Orwell’s use of language transports the reader into the story, into his perception of the future.   There is nothing distinct about the language of The Hunger Games, although the phrase “May the odds forever be in your favor” has the potential to live in similar infamy as the Star Wars’ Jedi salutation, “May the Force be with you” or Dr. Spock’s “Live Long and Prosper.”    

Having stated some obvious differences, there are similarities, which is why I pose the question.   Yes, each book in its own way draws you into a future with its alternate state of being.   Orwell’s focus is the danger of an over-reliance on technology, whereas Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, focused on the danger of non-compliance and individualism.   In either case, one theme is universal: freedom of thought is suppressed in order to be a compliant part of the greater good.  Hmmm…

With all due apologies to those who favor the thought of an “instant classic,” I would argue that a classic is not defined from amongst its contemporaries.    Only time will afford us, perhaps, the luxury of seeing in how many government, literature, and/or history courses The Hunger Games is used as a part of the syllabus.   Will it be our children’s (and grandchildren’s, and…) 1984? I don’t yet know.   But in these last days before the Lord returns, the concept of suppressing our freedom of thought has me thinking…

 

May the odds forever be in your favor.

The “In Spite of” Life

 

Many of us live “in spite of” lives. In fact, I believe that an “in spite of” mentality is necessary if we are to stay upon that course which we believe in our hearts is God-ordained. This is a truth that is as important to our homeschooling journey as it is in any other area of our lives.    Distractions will come.    Storms will come.    We question our path. What does an “in spite of” mentality require?   Read on here

 

Enjoying the Simplicity of Life

My blogging buddy Danielle (whom I have actually met in real life) posted a wonderfully profound blog entry on loving the simple in life.    It took me back to where my life has been over the last few months.

I stepped away from some work this summer that was really wearing me out.   With a lightened load, I have been learning how to enjoy a life that is increasingly uncomplicated, allowing me to focus on those items that I consider my purpose.   I have more time to invest in my work, both mentally and physically.   I have more time to hang out (minus a laptop) with the family.   I have more time to manage my household, and even though the house doesn’t look like the museum about which I fantasize, I am learning to work within the ebb and flow of the kids’ school days and eating breaks (the one bit of value I took from the Fly Lady).

I am learning to release some of my Martha-like tendencies and take one day at a time.

But there are times when life does not allow you the luxury of simplicity.   This weekend was one of those times.

In drafting this post, I began to detail the three days that attacked me at once, but just listing it made me tired.  Rather than bore you with the day-to-day, I thought instead to reflect on how God lovingly perfects all that concerns us, even the smallest of things:

I’m thankful that God has complemented me with a husband that doesn’t mind getting out and driving around; he loves to be on-the-go.   I, on the other hand, am one who relishes a full day at home.   So, even when he has to make two trips into town to the Whole Paycheck Foods Market because I forgot something, he goes without complaint.

I’m thankful that others in the house are teaching me to be flexible, so that when the oldest threw in an unexpected need to travel an hour away to research a college project, I didn’t sprout too many more gray hairs.    Similarly, when my husband asked us to postpone the weekday field trip so that he could join us, everyone was okay with a school-related activity (she says, tongue-in-cheek) on Labor Day.

I’m thankful for two girls with heads full of hair.   Even though it takes me the better part of a couple of days to wash/twist/ braid it, it’s healthy.   So in spite of the hard time they give me about oils and butters, I smile as they pull back ponytails or put on headbands. 

I’m thankful for a son who is focused enough in his interests as to give up his Saturday mornings to pursue his passions, even if it means that Dad or I must give up our Saturday mornings as well.

I’m thankful that, in the midst of the chaos that permeated this weekend, I felt the breeze from the bay in my twists, I visited with alligators, and observed my first flock of red-winged blackbirds.

 

So this morning, as I got up later than I wanted, and scolded myself that I didn’t get all these little projects done that I had planned before the kids awoke, I reminded myself of the things that I did get to do.    My two hands crafted homemade biscuits with fresh fruit this morning, and enchiladas for lunch.   The kids finished school well and early.    Football season starts tonight.   I commit to being a better me on tomorrow.

Simple is good.

Lord, What am I to Do?

I have a question: does anybody else ever struggle with ALL the roles that are upon you?   A couple of days ago,  the highlights of my day went like this (roles in italics):

Mom got up and after piddling around with personal business for a bit, made breakfast for the kids.

Housekeeper cleaned and completed a few necessary household errands.

Homeschool Parent reminded everyone that they still had math and an hour of reading to complete–youngest two are on the computer.

After a little check-in time with Facebook, e-mails, etc., Writer sat down to work on a number of deadlines that are quickly approaching.   In the meantime, there are various distractions: Homeschool Mom is feeling under-planned and overwhelmed, and Mom is being asked to stop and get various tasks accomplished, or just to “come and watch ________.”

Writer continues to work, but is growing frustrated that kids have not moved from the computers.   Also, Healthy, Whole, and Beautiful knows that she needs to get up and do something besides sit on the computer (and then wonder why her kids don’t move).   So, Healthy, Whole, and Beautiful decides to take an evening walk to get some exercise.   But, Mom also knows that she needs to get the kids moving, so she offers the youngest an opportunity to ride her bike while she (HW&B) walks.

The youngest and HW&B walk, but the youngest needs to stop about every 2 minutes for water, directions, the occasional running over of HW&B’s foot, or just to talk.    HW&B’s plan for a cardio-enhancing pace is blown.  Mom is trying to comfort HW&B with the thought that she’s spending healthy, quality time with her children, but HW&B is not buying it.    She’s frustrated and Mom’s feeling guilty for giving in to HW&B’s lamenting.

Mom comes to a happy compromise: she abbreviates the walk with the youngest, sends her home for the oldest to help with a bath, and then HW&B can continue her walk.

Once home, we all skip dinner and have what we’ve been waiting for all day–smores.   HW&B knows better, but forget her.   The rest of us want satisfaction.   We get showered, and once Housekeeper completes a few more tasks, we all head to bed.

courtesy of the Daily Health Report

Our associate pastor was speaking along these same lines in a mid-week service.   He talked about the Lord doing a work in him over the years.   He shared how, when his kids were younger, he always had on the back of his brain what he had to do for himself as he was spending time with them.   Now, he plays with his granddaughter for 6 hours and doesn’t think twice about it.   His answer to the question of balance was to allow in our lives a release of the Holy Spirit.   I get that, but I also thought, “Yeah, but you’re a grandfather with fully grown kids.”   It’s a very different season of life than where I now reside.   I needed a more practical, relevant example.

I see women like me all the time.   Given multiple roles, many make choices that seemingly benefit themselves over their children.   One even scolded me about not following the advice of the flight attendant–take care of self first before you try to take care of anyone else.    My mind can see the logic, but my heart is vision-impaired; who I am will simply not allow me to do that.   Also, at the risk of sounding mean, I see the fruit of that mentality, and it’s not what I want to blossom here.

I also see the other side of this dilemma–moms who are always stressed and tired any time you meet them.   They run around with their kids, they work for long hours, and they always look wind-blown and exhausted.   No thank you to that fruit as well.

I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle…on a good day.   But then again…

The third version I see is the “God first, family second, no matter what.”    I shared this wisdom for a long time, but I’ve come to a revelation over the years: God is always first, but if family (especially kids) are always second, between the “Can you’s…,” the “Will you’s…,”  and “Can I’s…,” nothing else gets done!   At least that’s the way it happens in our home.   And to be sure, there is work to do.   The Proverbs 31 woman wasn’t solely a keeper of the home; she worked, she researched, she delegated, she invested.    For the work that the Lord has put to my hands, and for what “helpmeet” looks like in this home, I have to pray about daily priorities.

What do You want me to do today, Lord?

A few days later, I’m in a better place.   HW&B sacrificed her time so that Writer could meet a few deadlines, and she’s okay with that.   After all, she even slowed down long enough to paint her toenails this morning (lol).

Housekeeper has a clean kitchen (for now) and all the laundry folded. (Now to those stacks of papers all over the bedroom).   Homeschool Mom, after a small scuffle with Amazon, should get her planners today, so she’s believing that school has some hope of beginning according to schedule with some sense of order.    Mom has watched the youngest’s dance routine and helped the oldest sew sleeves on her latest creation.   Instructor will ask hubby to grocery shop so that she can attend a faculty meeting tonight.   For our home, all is normal.

As I was wrapping up this post and thinking more about the balancing act and how to effectively “be all I can be,” the beautiful Daniele shared an article she wrote for The Better Mom blog.    I don’t consider myself burned out, but if I’m not careful, I could see that place from here.   Each day, give me strength, grace, and wisdom to do what You want me to do.

How about you?   How do you balance all the roles that stand before you?

To Redeem the Time

15 Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity,because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5: 15-16)

to redeem (from the KJV Dictionary):

To redeem time, is to use more diligence in the improvement of it; to be diligent and active in duty and preparation. Eph. 5.

 

This summer has been, for lack of a better word, different.   Normally I overbook our summers with all kinds of activities—camps, programs, trips, summer school—you name it.    This summer, I intentionally enrolled the kids in almost nothing—no expensive, intensive “enrichment” programs.    I had only two desires after the school year we had—to plan and to rest.   With roughly 1/3 to ½ of our school year spent on trips and outside activities in April and May, I recognized early this spring that our school year would perhaps run into mid-June before we reached a place that I felt comfortable in declaring us finished.   (Then again, who am I, right?)    And the Lord proceeded to prove that exact point—that my plans are nothing compared to His.

After detailing what I needed each of the children to accomplish in the final weeks of May and the first couple of weeks of June, I fought with two bouts of cold, cough, and congestion.   This was literally the first time in our 20 years as a family that everyone was sick at the same time.   Consequently, all of that planned attentiveness to building certain skill sets in the kids flew out the window while I struggled just to get out of the bed before noon on most days.    Our “official” end of the school year ended ambiguously, to say the least.

Once we wound down into summer mode, we have focused in on our usual reading and math.    The oldest is volunteering once again at our local cancer center, and is preparing for a national academic competition on next week, plus beginning her college application process.   The younger two have camps with the church at different times this year, and this should be an ideal pace for me to be productive.    But there’s a rub.  

Our youngest is, at least to this point in her academic career, largely uninterested in school.   What this means on a day-to-day basis this summer is that she postpones her hour of reading and her multiplication drills.

Her: “I’ll get it done at 4:00, Mom.”

Me (@ ~4:15): “I thought you said 4:00!”

Her: “Uh, oh, I forgot!   Okay, 5:00.   I promise!”

Me (after losing track of time):   “Okay, WHEN are you going to get your work done??!”

Her: “[the oldest] is enjoying my book.   I’m going to read to her at 8 p.m.” (and by 9-ish, her work is done.    Sigh).

This isn’t every day, but it’s more often than I can appreciate.   And here’s the kicker: as I get more irritated with her, I can’t help but think about my own m.o. as of late.   With a lightened college course load, I don’t have to worry about grading papers and interacting with so many people in a day.   But, I’m still very accustomed to getting on the computer early in the morning for a significant amount of time.   So guess what?   I’m waaaayyyyy more in touch with my Facebook and Twitter buds!   Though I love them dearly, this is truly dangerous for me.    It’s not as if I don’t have things to do this summer.   If the Lord says the same, by mid-August, I will:

1) complete a couple of study guides that I am writing for another company

2) complete a significant portion of my long-anticipated high school curriculum

3) revise my economics lesson plans (listed on Squidoo)

4) develop lesson plans for son’s Swahili studies

5) develop lesson plans for the oldest’s world geography studies  

 6) plan the 1st 6 weeks of everyone’s school days

Each of these items has subset point a), b), etc.   Also, each of these items fall in the category of items I love to do, so you’d think I’d have all of this energy to get going in the mornings, right?   Wrong.   I find myself very much like the 8-year-old, filling in time with I-don’t-know-what and then beginning projects much later in the evening when I’m not at my best.   The end result is that far less gets done, and July and August are like looming storm clouds, reminding me that summer is short and my list is long.   Though I’ve accomplished some tasks, I know that I should be, and I could be, much farther along.

I believe a part of my extended illness was a simple need to rest; I told my husband so when he began planning his summer trips with all the places I could go and things to do  that I know I did the right thing in not overloading our summer as I so often do.   But I also know that I could do something very different with my time on a daily basis.   So I embrace God’s wisdom and pray about redeeming my time.   I believe Him to give me strength over this last bit of a cough such that I can help the youngest be more diligent with her time as well.   The oldest?    Praise God, she’s getting so much better with the self-discipline to complete work tasks, even though she works to the last minute with essays and application deadlines.   I think that by the time we finish reading Huckleberry Finn, Jesus might come and we’ll be able to talk to Mark Twain about it face-to-face.  Maybe after next week’s competition, we can really get after it.

Writing is cathartic, and I’m excited about sharing a progress report in a couple of weeks.   I’d also love to hear of your summer plans with your family.   Any school happening, or are you taking a complete break?   How are you redeeming your time?

If I could relive one day…

For any WordPress bloggers out there, do you ever pay attention to the writing prompts that once appeared each time you write a new post?    I never paid much attention to them as my struggle with blogging isn’t usually what to write about, but instead finding the time to write about anything!   But last summer (see what I mean about finding time?) I saw a suggestion for a post that grabbed me and made me think, and I have had that title drafted since last August.

The title?   “If you could relive one day of your life, what day would that be?”   There are many days that came to mind: the day I married my husband, the day I raised my hands in complete surrender to Christ, the day that we birthed each of our children, the last conversation I had with my mom or my dad—the list goes on endlessly.   But if I had to pick one day, I would have to pick the day that I graduated from high school.

When I read that prompt, I thought so much about high school; if there was ever a time in my life when I was almost constantly on cloud nine, it had to be high school.   I wasn’t an athlete, though I did suffer through (I should say my teammates suffered through) one year of softball.   I wasn’t a cheerleader; it was too expensive, and I wasn’t a gymnast, or even particularly limber.   I was a brainiac, and proud of it.   I loved that my name was one of the first to come up any time there was a conversation about the “best of’s…”   I enjoyed all the privileges that came with being teacher’s pet, and considered the best and the brightest.   Don’t get me wrong; my life had its hardships, but I truly consider these my “golden years,” given that I haven’t hit 50 just yet.

My mind travels through a number of teachers, and I wonder who is still alive.   Inevitably, I ponder my friendships, most of which, if at all existent, have dwindled down to a series of back-and-forth exchanges on Facebook that succinctly wrap up my life for the last ~30 years since graduation.   As an aside, because like most of us, I don’t see myself as others see me, I look at current pictures of the most popular, the most beautiful, the most likely to succeed, etc., and I marvel at the gray hair, the expanded waistlines, etc.—as if I’m still the firecracker that I was all those years ago.   HA HA!!

As I continue to allow my mind to drift over these most precious of days, I can’t help but think about my dreams.   With my limited exposure to corporate America and the nature of business, I embraced the same “I’m every woman” type of expectations that many of us do at that age—queen of my industry and a modern-day princess, looking like a supermodel and managing my house,  my husband and many children with flawless execution.   I’ve shared that Claire Huxtable dream turned nightmare before.

Anyway, it amazes me how much of my dreams centered upon external appearances.   At 17, I wouldn’t have known better, but I marvel at how much of what I wanted for myself was a function of what I wanted others to think of me.   And as life dealt me some cruel realities that deviated from my fantasy, I probably spent some time, though I’m not cognizant of it, in some level of depression about the things that didn’t happen.   I sure hope I didn’t subconsciously take out any frustrations on those closest to me.

The thing is, when I look at what I wanted then, and where I am now, I realize how fantastic my life truly is.   No, I don’t have some of the trappings that I thought so critical to being a success at that tender season in my life.   AND, I’ll add that the few “trappings” that I do have, like this ample space for the five of us to live, I don’t value anywhere near as much as I once did.   I realize that when we bought this home, I (I won’t speak for my husband) had fallen into a trap of believing that the bigger your home is, the better your life should be.   Honestly, I’m looking forward to the season of our five becoming three and moving into something more cozy.

I never dreamed of being a stay-at-home, work-at-home mom.  I never dreamed of owning a business.    I never dreamed of educating my own children.   I never thought I’d teach adults.    I never dreamed of using my gifts to uplift the body of Christ as I’ve been allowed to over these years.  Most importantly, I never dreamed of how pleasurable some of life’s sweetest joys can be, like waking up in my husband’s arms after he’s been away for a few days, or having him as my very best friend, or receiving hugs from the kids first thing in the morning, or watching my eight-year-old sleep recharge.

So, if I could relive one day, it might be the day that I graduated from high school.   But, I’d want to take these memories with me so that I could really be excited about my future—not the shallow, materialistic fantasy crafted for me while watching too much TV during those teenage years, but what real life has created.   In this latter vision are my biggest  accomplishments and my life’s greatest joys.

How about you?   What one day would you relive?