Random Thoughts with Leslie

New Phase

I cannot believe how this family has changed. I have a friend who just had a baby, and she made the comment “I know you are way past this stage, but I still think it’s fun to see.” Gosh! Am I? Have I crossed over that line, where I am officially past that baby stage? Seems surreal to think so. But I don’t know, I do still need concealer. And someone told me that you know the baby phase is over when you stop using concealer.

However, my two youngest turned 4 this month!! How did that happen? They are obsessed with princesses, unicorns and fluffy skirts of every kind. They start preschool in the Fall and are such big girls now. Looking back at this last year, when they were three, it has been my favorite so far. All the snuggles, all those moments that I got them to myself before they run off to school and life speeds up to a blur again.

Now that I think about it, life was a complete blur (hello name of my blog!) for so long. Five solid years full of: 3 cross-country moves, pregnancies, 5 babies being born, houses being bought and sold, jobs being changed, endless renovations. It’s really no wonder life didn’t slow down until we landed here and the older kids began school. I have a feeling this slower pace is what allowed me to cherish my time with them more. And in some ways I sense that our previous busy-ness prevented me from cherishing that 3-year old stage with the other kids. Sorry Esther, Gabriel and Micah.

New Schedule

Now, COVID19 has effected its own changes to life. My slower pace is even slower and if I were honest I may be enjoying this a little bit too much. But, I am an unapologetic, introverted homebody. My friends know it. I know it. My husband knows it. When life slammed to a halt 6 weeks ago I may have done a jig in my brain in terms of my own schedule being cleared. Well, I did after 3 weeks of adjusting to zero personal space.

I do miss my friends though. Not one to rely on social media, I miss their faces in real time. It is possible I may be guilty of popping my minivan trunk once a week in random parking lots and partaking in literal tailgate parties with a coffee in my hand. Stop your hateful thoughts. We stay 10 feet apart in open air. It’s a throw back to wagon days. Except we circle the vans instead.

Family Sports

What have we done to occupy ourselves? Taken a lot of walks in the woods. Until I lost half the kids and almost called the police. Apparently they are part homing pigeon. When I finally committed to calling in the authorities I found them pilfering through an intended Easter package on the front porch. Guess my lesson on “How to get home if you are lost in the woods: Landmarks” was better than I thought and they decided to put it into practice instead of waiting on their slower siblings. We haven’t been on a walk in the woods again, but we did get some pigs to occupy our old chicken coop and that has been it’s own sport of sorts.

Pencils

Homeschooling is for rock stars. It never ceases to amaze me how fast I can bring my children to tears over pencils. But really, I don’t want the pointy end waving around my face. I just don’t. And why do we use the wooden ones? Why not mechanical? Sharpening them has become one of those homeschool side hustles I need power tools for.

Small and Large Victories

And Gabe and Micah gave their hearts to the Lord! Esther, Gabriel and Micah were all baptized on Easter morning right here in our creek. So special. Best Easter ever. These days at home have been trying, but this up close and personal approach to life has opened so many doors to amazing conversations and life-changing decisions. Thank you Lord for this moment to refocus as a family.

Continued Changes due to Coronavirus

I cooked a lot before, now even more. It astounds me how much food the kids go through now that they are home all day long. Once or twice a week we support a locally owned business by ordering dinner. But since we are not allowed to go in, they deliver it curbside.

Spending more time together as a family means my community that was once outside these walls, is now entirely within these walls. This has brought us closer as a family physically and relationally, but exposed our weaknesses as well.

Since we do not go to church, we worship here in our living room. This week Gabriel accepted Christ into his heart. Esther and he are to be baptized this coming weekend – Easter weekend – in the creek. Obviously, it won’t be a big hullabaloo like before but I do think the intimacy makes it more special.

In some ways, life reminds me of our intense baby stage when my house was never clean, I rarely had time to work out or put makeup on, I lived in leggings and my mom-bun hair was washed every three or so days. It is was as uncomfortable then as it is now. However, I have become more familiar with each of my children. Strengths. Weaknesses. Preferences. I have also become more familiar with my own.

Part of me mourns the loss of time in the mornings with Grace and Ruth before they leave for school next year. Now I am fully occupied with homeschooling and they play by themselves. But, I am so grateful we are all healthy, home and together.

I really believe we will look back at this time in our lives to see this particular season of loss and disruption as a time when God pruned away our non-essentials and grew our faith, our love and our family. This is a call to fix our focus on things most important. It is a chance to know God as Provider, Prince of Peace, Healer, Comforter, and Friend. To know family as community.

I am choosing to dive in deep to this unprecedented time, when the world seems to have paused for a moment and the rush and race of life has slowed down on the home front. Praying for fresh strength to steward this season with wisdom and grace.

The Coronavirus is changing things

Outside Our Walls

It’s the beginning of April and the coronavirus has taken over the world. They have shut down schools, campuses, businesses, travel, churches. We are not allowed to meet in groups more than 10. A couple in the northeast was arrested for having a wedding. Funerals are not permitted. States have passed a “stay at home” order telling people they are not allowed to go out for non-essential things. Of course, we all define that a bit differently. Toilet paper has been missing from shelves for a month now. The CDC wants everyone to wear masks when they are in public. Doctors and hospitals have canceled “elective” surgeries (which apparently includes heart surgery?!). The stock market has plummeted. Gas is the same price it was when I got my drivers license and people get really excited about car rides.

At Home

My husband’s Reserves trips have been suspended until June. This, is a temporary respite I am grateful for as I miss him when he is gone. Since he also teaches at a local college two nights a week, he is now home more often in the evenings. This I love too. His day job as a contractor for the Department of Defense is considered “essential” to National Security so we are one of the few very blessed to be still working. Many in our tourist town are not sharing in this blessing.

We cannot go to church. We are not holding our MOPS meetings. I cannot connect with moms at school. We now do our Bible Study on a video app. Essentially, my sense of community has disappeared and everyone else’s has too.  Biblical Prayers Ministries has always been an online ministry, so that has been a source of stability in my schedule.

The kids are home from school full time. Their loving teachers post online videos. In the last week I have become a homeschooling mom. This, I always swore I would never do to my children. Not everyone is gifted in teaching children, and I am happy to salute those who are superstars in patience. However, we do what we must and I have decided to adapt to this new role and become more sensitive to my levels of patience.  I’ve no doubt the Lord has planned this as a growth spurt for me.

Usually, everyday I am grateful for the space we have living in the country. Now, it seems essential to our sanity. States have closed state and national parks to keep people from being in contact with each other and now more than ever I am thankful for the space.

While my husband personally knows people who have gotten the virus, it has yet to touch my acquaintances. At this point, in our area it seems all these changes are a prelude, like time has been suspended and we are waiting for the impact of this virus and the economy.

I pray God will grace us with the wisdom and strength to know how to love, serve and respond. Also, I pray God will grant divine revelation to the researchers, scientists, biochemists and health leaders who are seeking a cure for this virus.

Community at Home

Social distancing means the community that was once outside the walls of our home, is now entirely within. This brings us closer as a family physically and relationally, but exposes weaknesses as well. What to do with them?

If there was ever a time to recognize the issues in a family, now is it. They tend to be glaringly obvious when you spend hours, days and weeks on end together. Much like Dr. Seuss’s There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, our issues tend to pop up around every corner of the home in all shapes and sizes.

How easy it is to brush aside our selfishness, our offenses, our laziness and our brokenness when life moves along at a nice little clip. When the only time we are faced with them is a few hours at night before we crash into our pillow vowing to deal with it all on the morrow. But, we are not Scarlett O’Hara and we cannot think about that tomorrow when yesterday, today and tomorrow are all endlessly blending together in a long drawn out display of: us.

Daunting? Actually, this is a good thing. Issues swept aside take root, bear fruit and spread their ruinous seed everywhere. However, this “stay at home” order is just the thing to shine a spotlight right on those hidden issues. It is a brilliant opportunity for God to do some pruning and cultivation. And His snippers are ready.

Below I will add a few of my favorite resources for family development and I would love it if you added your’s to the comments as well. Let’s give our home life our undivided attention. In the words of Wendy Speake,

“A double-minded man cannot wield a double-edged sword.”

If we long to see victory, lets not push the dirt aside any longer or look for an easy way out. Let’s allow God to use our weaknesses as a chance to display His miraculous power.

He is after all our: Defender, Restorer, Provider, Healer, Peace and Joy.

Read John 15:1-12, Romans 12:2 and pray Psalm 139:23-24.

Psalm 139:23-24

Father, I offer my heart to you for pruning. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Shine your light into our family, and remove any grievous ways in us.

Additional Resources:

  • Holy Bible – This isn’t lip service. It’s a living sword and God has placed His power in it to convict and reveal those hidden things. We aren’t going to make any real progress without it.
  • Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions with Gentle Biblical Responses by Wendy Speake and Amber Lia (So practical. I have read and reread this book.)
  • Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
  • The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman (This is classically for marriage. I find it is applicable to kids as well. They do have a child-focused version of this book but I have not read it.)
  • Contact a christian family counseling service if you need to. They are open, and they are there to help you find wholeness.

Roots of Rejection

“But I want to play with you!” “No! Only Esther and Tess are allowed to play!”

Some wounds from childhood cut deep enough to stay with us for years. Rejection is a powerful wound that leaves scars far into adulthood.

If it’s not fun for one, the game is done.

When we see our children playing at the expense of another, we must train them up in God’s love. If rejection goes unchecked, the wounds carry far into adulthood.

We see a lot of this in the first church. The Jews were proud of their heritage as their unique lifestyle set them apart from others. When anyone outside of this heritage accepted the gospel they were made to jump through hoops to be a part of the “in crowd” of Jewish Christians. This behavior created painful barriers to new believers and became a source of great division in God’s family.

Just as it wrecked havoc in the first Church, it will wreck havoc in our homes. The wounds of rejection grow to beliefs about personal value and love. It changes the way we see ourselves. For a child it becomes a part of the fabric of his or her identity.

God’s family is full of people from different backgrounds, languages, cultures and values and he bonds them together in the unity of love. When it comes to the blended and diverse families, there is none larger than the family of God. We find in His word the key to bringing our family into unity. He even made it into a family creed:

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

What is your family creed that binds you together? When divisions arise and rejection slithers into your home, do you have a truth that you speak over your children to keep them rooted and grounded in love?

Read Ephesians 4:1-16, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 and pray Ephesians 3:14-19.

Ephesians 3:17-19

Father, give my family a spirit of unity and love. Lead us to be “rooted and grounded in love” that we may all  know “with strength to comprehend…what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” Let your love permeate and define our family so that rejection and division have no place in our home.