But even on not good days, at least one person learns something. That person is usually ME.
Something I truly hope that you all realize about me is that, most often, when I blog it is in response to an admonishment I have received. It is sort of a letter to myself. For you, it is like looking into my house at night----shades open, lights on, seeing me in my private thoughts. I have never wanted to be one of those mommy bloggers who have it all figured out, or have it all together, because that could not be further from the truth about me. I have wanted, deeply, to be an encourager. And I suppose to be an encourager, you must be a person who has needed encouragement, because of mistakes or circumstances or both.
I write because I was created that way. Writing helps me process out the very deep feelings I have on things, things that for some reason can't stay "in there" for me. Maybe they can for you, but they can't for me. I have found that when I try to keep feelings in I pay consequences physically. And as to why they come out better on a keyboard I have no idea at all. But they do.
As most of you know, I have been a home schooling parent for nearly 5 years now. I have four children, and we are in the "even years": 4, 6, 8, and 10. My oldest son has special needs, my other son is probably gifted, and two of my other children appear to be "normal", whatever that is. This dynamic makes for an interesting home school experience: one child barely treads water, and the next one is diving. Two others are in the wading pool. And I am at the pool by myself, or so it seems, trying to help all of them learn to swim at the same time. The pool is loud, and the water is too cold some days, someone is almost always splashing water on me, or someone has to pee. But for 5 years now, I have tried to teach "swimming". I have hung in there, I have sacrificed, I have worked hard. After all, I couldn't love my students more fiercely than I do. The drive to succeed is high. If I succeed, we ALL succeed. And if I fail. . . .
Today I realized that I have failed at running with patience.
We are working on math with our oldest two at just about the same level. I cannot tell you how difficult it can be to try to reach, or teach, a child with autism. Even a very high functioning, obedient, sweet, wonderful child with autism. It is so difficult. It is like speaking English to someone who learned English as a second language----at 84. I find myself constantly attempting to crawl inside that beautiful head of his, trying to squint through his eyes and see the subject like he does. It is teaching and interpreting at the same time. And it is exhausting. Not just math, either. But every single subject is afflicted by large pockets of missing information---information I have presented over and over----and yet there are pockets with rich, amazing, staggering knowledge. Knowledge that I have no earthly idea of how it got there. I told my husband that it is like "fracking"----digging down way deep to pockets of valuable material. If I could only figure out how to get it to come to the surface!
When I realized that our son was on the autism spectrum, I knew I would have to fight. I would fight schools, physicians, therapists, insurance companies, government programs, etc. Oh, the fighting! I would fight to do the right thing by him, in spite of the "hard". I would fight over temper tantrums and meltdowns at the store and bad behavior and I was determined to win. I don't like to fight. But there is a fight in me, a fire, to fight for this child, and I know God gave it to me. I know that He made him for a reason, a purpose, and even if I never get to see that fully come to fruition, it still won't matter because He knows why.
I didn't realize I would have to fight me.
The Hebrew writer said in Hebrews 12:1 that
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
The race of my life---being a wife, mother, teacher, church member---- has been set before me by my Savior who has numbered my days, who knows the exact mileage and terrain of the course. When the running-----my life----gets hard, it is a red flag that I am not running right. All of the ways of not running right are in this verse.
I ran cross country in high school and for one season in college. And oh how much better I can understand a running analogy because of that.
God tells us in this passage that to run successfully, we need to
Lay aside every weight: We need to regularly take our burdens, our heart weights, to the Lord. That means prayer----real, true prayer, where I know He heard me because He met me there, and fellowshipped with me, and blessed me with His presence, so that I might have His sweet peace. For me, this can come quickly should God bless me that way, and sometimes I have to make an effort at prayer over a period of time before He meets with me. Either way, it is my responsibility to make true prayer time a priority. We also need to drop off priorities that slow us down in our race.
And the sin which doth so easily beset us: We have a choice, sisters, to stay in our sin---those things that God shows us we need to refrain from----or to sever it from our lives. Your sin could be anger, a sharp tongue, covetousness, laziness, or any number of works of the flesh, but in order to run, we must drop these things. It was a lot easier to run years ago when I maintained good habits on a daily basis. Now it would be more difficult, as my diet and daily activity do not equate to the physique of a runner. To be successful I would have to make some practical changes. Well, to be successful in our race, we must make practical changes in the way we live. I find so often that once I pray about these sins in my flesh, the Lord will make me more aware of them just before I am about to do something I shouldn't so that I might "nip them in the bud". He helps me to see what I am about to do, so that I don't.
And let us run with patience: In cross country I got the privilege to run some beautiful courses.
There were times as an adult I would get to visit and hike a course that we ran, and I was always amazed at the beauty there that I couldn't see when I was huffing and puffing and nearly weeping, dragging myself up the hill. I thought of what made those courses so hard back then in my early days of running. It was my emotional response.
When I finally had some practice with hard courses under my belt, enough to realize that it was only a short 20 minutes or so to rest, I stopped freaking out so much during the course. When I saw a hill, I did the best I could. I took one piece of the hill at a time---sometimes just concentrating on one step at a time----until I could get to the top. Because once I reached the top, I could usually coast down hill, swiftly, nearly effortlessly, and have the opportunity to look about and enjoy the scenery.
Oh sisters, how I fail at this! So often I run my race in a panic, not able to see past this moment. I get overwhelmed by the task before me. And what happens when that happens? A painful fact to admit. The scenery isn't so beautiful. In fact, it becomes an adversity to me, almost an enemy.
My very blessings. . . I start to see as hardships. Rather than the hill being an accomplishment to celebrate, it becomes a mountain I want to avoid. And on my last math day, I was tempted to avoid that mountain. To just travel around it----maybe he would never learn fractions at all. What was the point?
I was tempted to just give up, to quit fighting for his learning. Not entirely, just on that point----but I was not born yesterday, and I know how this temptation thing works a little bit. All it takes is a little give here, and a little give there, and pretty soon,
you stop fighting.
I didn't realize how hard my course would be sometimes. I know that there are much, much harder courses. I know that some of you are on the Swiss Alps right now, facing circumstances that make my race rightfully look like a mole hill, and oh how my heart goes out to you!
But sisters, no matter the hill you are on;
Home School Hill,
Toddler Tantrum Volcano,
Grouchy Spouse Summit,
run with patience. After all, the beginning of that verse says, "wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses. . . "
You know who is my great cloud of witnesses right now? The people who make up my scenery----my children. My church family, the lost all around me----
They are watching me run. I learned today that I CAN get up this big old hill in front of me. But I have to run with patience, for I am my own worst enemy.
We have the author and finisher of our faith at the finish line, cheering for us. He stands ready to help, to encourage, and to comfort. "Run with patience". Don't let your emotions rule your spirit. We have a sure hope, a steady anchor, a rock on which we stand, and a God who left the Comforter to give direction and aid to us----who has promised that if we do things His way, we will succeed. Have confidence, not in yourself, but in the Master Designer of your race.
If we seek to run our race with patience to the pleasing of the one at the finish line, sisters----what a peaceful, beautiful, lovely course we will run. We can truly have joy in our journeys.
You are all loved this day.