12) Today I am really really, deep down in my heart thankful for FREEDOM. Freedom to be at home with my kids every day, building relationships with them, teaching them, living life together on Turney Ridge Rd. Freedom to plant a garden and eat from it. Freedom to have goats and milk them and nourish my family with its raw, enzyme-rich goodness. Freedom to leave our toys on the front porch. . . and backyard. . . because this is our space and we make it work for us, instead of having to follow a neighborhood code or make it look like anything on Pinterest. It fits US. I'm thankful that our days are ours. We have exactly two commitments each week that require being somewhere at a certain time on a certain day. Other than that, we decide when we will get up and when we will have lunch and for how long we will read books and for how long we will play on the porch or watch the sunset and at what time we will have dinner. I wouldn't trade that freedom for any program or club or sports team. It's so nice to live unconstricted by someone else's schedule of practice times, meetings, games, events. And it's nice to live where we can recreate and eat and put up knife-throwing targets and merry go rounds and RVs and barns and fences wherever we choose to. I love where we live and how we live, because both allow for FREEDOM. "'Tis a gift to be simple; 'Tis a gift to be free; 'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be. . . "
13) Today I am also thankful for FRIENDSHIPS. God has surrounded me with some of the finest people in the world. There's Wendy, a friend I consider a mentor who is ten years older and a zillion years wiser. There's Becky, a friend I learn something new from every time I am around and who prays for me daily. Amy, who I don't see often enough but we love each other deeply and are in the same boat of homeschooling large families while making unpopular decisions and we support each other deeply. Jennifer, who shows me how to save seeds and inspires me to keep working the garden. Linda, who shows me what love and real and genuine and the open-door policy looks like in a home. And a HOST of other friends beyond number. I could go on for days. I am blessed to be surrounded with such amazing people.
14) Today I am thankful for Silas's FATHER. :) He loves me so well. It is in these last few weeks of pregnancy that he always steps up to the plate- not that he doesn't the rest of the time, but especially in these weeks- and does whatever he possibly can to make life easier for me. Whether it's bringing home dinner, or taking the kids outside and letting me breathe for awhile inside, or picking up Clover Coffee because I just need it :), or taking over Math because I just can't teach it right now :), he does it. I could not imagine a more wonderful partner to live life with.
15) I have a big issue with this whole idea in the church that we have to be "relevant". What that looks like for most is that we have to wear hip clothes and have coffee bars and social events galore so that we "make God appealing". Does He really need help with that? Is our dressing all hipster like everybody else helping God out somehow? I just don't get it. It seems to me that if we believed He was awesome, worthy of our worship, worthy of sharing, we would realize He's big enough to draw people to Himself without our making sure our music is cool, our clothes are hip, and we make everybody feel good. He is so much bigger than that. And life is about so much more than that. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah that He wasn't impressed with our fanfare, and Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that life was more than food and clothing. Church isn't a show and we aren't performers. "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" -Micah 6:8
16) My parents offered their babysitting services last week and I got a date with my man. :) This weekend we have another date. I absolutely LOVE having dates with my man. We don't even have to go anywhere fancy. In fact, one of my favorite dates in our history of dates was one where we simply drove around the country roads, watching the cows and the sunset and talking about life. This weekend I get a "fancy date" with our friends Rich and Linda because Linda and I have October birthdays and we have decided our men should take us out :), but it's just nice to be together.
17) I had a neat conversation with my mentor friend Wendy this morning. She said that even when her kids are young, she encourages them to LISTEN to God in their prayers. To ask Him about details of their everyday life and really wait on Him and listen attentively for His answer. She was recounting several stories of even the littlest ones hearing amazing things from God when they are intent on listening. She said, "If God can speak to a donkey, He can speak to my child."That thought process really makes a shift from reading about God and learning about God, to experiencing God. Interacting with Him as a real, concerned, ever-present Help who cares about the details of their lives and wants a relationship with them. I liked that.
18) I've been reading through the Chronological One Year Bible this year for the third year in a row. I have come to love the Old Testament in these years and have learned so much from it, but this year I was SO EXCITED to finally hit the Gospels on September 23. (Did you realize there was that much OT??) I think we have to pay attention to every word, in both the old and the new, but my heart was overjoyed this year to get to the sweet, sweet stories of Jesus. The Messiah. Flipping that page and reading, "This is the Good News of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God" in Mark 1:1 and then "The Word gave life to everything and His life brought light to everyone" in John 1:4 was like opening up a long-anticipated gift on Christmas morning. I made a page in my journal about Jesus and it says that He is BREAD and WINE (everyday sustenance + ultimate joy and delicious celebration- check it out! He calls Himself the bread of life and He is wine in Song of Solomon); He is ABUNDANCE; He is HEALING.
19) I've also been meditating on Psalm 121 this week. If you get a chance, read it! It's the one that starts out, "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Reflecting on that Psalm this week, I noticed that the Psalmist first realized he had need (we ALL do), and instead of looking around at the circumstances down where he was, he looked UP. His vision was turned UPWARD (Colossians 3:2) and He saw the LORD, Adonai, Supreme Lord over all creation, leaping victoriously over the hills (Song of Solomon 2:8). The rest of the Psalm says at least 5 times that the Lord "keeps" you. I looked that up in the 1828 dictionary. It means "to retain in one's power or possession; to hold; to have custody of; to preserve; to protect or guard; to tend or care for; to feed or pasture, as in keeping sheep", among other things. I am constantly under the loving care and supervision of the One who is never asleep, or off duty, or looking away, or unconcerned. He "keeps" my life and my comings and goings- every detail! What a marvelous truth. See also Psalm 46 and Psalm 62. They are similar.
To be continued. . .