Confession time: I've been wondering if I'm just nuts this whole time. I mean, I hear from God to stay home and homeschool my kids and get healthy. That's it. It seems so... average. Why would God bother speaking about something so average? He told Noah to build an ark to save the world from a flood (and if you watched the Russell Crowe version, you can totally get this feeling of, "Really? Is this really what I'm hearing?! Or am I making this up?), and on that key word, he told Joan of Ark to save the French... So it's human to second guess yourself and your relationship with God when you look around and everyone else seems normal-er than you.
And it has been difficult. Because I know God clearly told me to back off all the church activities that were filling up my calendar. This almost seemed unholy. But He distinctly told Paul and me that He wants our family to sit through Sunday School (as opposed to teaching), be in the service during worship (as opposed to running sound or visuals), sit through the sermon and be fed, and that's it. With our family, specifically, to model this for our children. This is hard for me because anyone that knows me can testify that I love being active in church - sometimes to the point of burn out. And other than attending the youth services on Wednesday night and doing nursery once a month, we are not doing anything else. Because God specifically told me so. He made it very clear what I need to put 100% of my effort and energy to.
So I have. I try to make our home an environment of prayer and worship, where academic failure is an opportunity to ask God for help and try again - nothing more. We do Bible devotions, we do reading and math, we do a creation-centered science lesson with emphasis on nature and how God ordained things to function. We do social studies on current events in Israel and learning about the Hebrew culture. I try very hard to control my temper.
And in between all this, I'm fostering a puppy (which I call a homeschooling compassion experience for the children where they can learn to care about something else and be gentle and tender) and I exercise.
With me exercising, I've had people offer more than enough suggestions. They see me as someone who is trying to get healthy, so here are a myriad of work out programs I should try: P90 or P90X, Jillian Michaels, Turbos, Insanity, Focus25... And God tells me, "Nope." As clear as He let me know He didn't want me to be a Beach Body Coach at this time. But I feel God telling me to a) Run (and I hated running as a teenager) b) Lift weights (really?! Ok I guess...) c) stretch it out with yoga. Pilates and Zumba I do for a "break" and for enjoyment but they are not the focus of what God wants me to do with my body.
And then here is where I go, "Really? Does God speak to something this mundane? I'm not doing drugs or having extramarital sex so why would He really care exactly what work out program I do?!"
And then for the longest I felt like I had nothing to blog about because... Every day... Same ol' same ol'...
Then yesterday I met with a physical therapist because I was having TMJ symptoms for the past 2 weeks. She is the only physical therapist that works with lock-jaw or mandibular conditions. She is also the most inspiring woman I've ever met. In the exam room we're just talking about our lives and I find out she's raced in the Iditarod, won marathons, and beat breast cancer. She has rebuilt her body to ultimate fitness 3 times in her life - even after a season of chemotherapy. I'm inspired. And she's a doctor. So I'm listening. As she gets my medical history, how I got diagnosed for Rheumatoid Arthritis, what I've been doing for exercise and how I manage pain daily, why I stopped working full-time... She speaks life and confirmation into me. She tells me, "All you need to do is run - I only run 2 to 3 miles, 3 times a week - consistently. And then some weight training, heavy but slow and controlled movements, building it up gradually. That way you will burn fat and lose weight, but more importantly, you will build the muscle around your joints and be pain free and active much longer. I've been able to win marathons for my age group just doing this kind of training after chemo, and none of the joints I've injured during my accidents on the Iditarod have bothered me. You'll be running a 5K in no time! But don't forget to stretch it all out so you can recover faster between runs." I had not mentioned to her that I want to run a 5K before snow hits the ground. I had not mentioned to her that what she was instructing me to do was exactly what God was instructing me to do - nothing more, nothing less. Then she fixed my jaw, which was the reason I went in the first place. But it was one of those moments where God was showing me, "Yes! I am speaking to you. It seems mundane. But I care about you, and nothing is mundane or average in My hands."
*Insert Holy Ghost Happy Dance Here*
Then today, it feels like all the Bible/praying/worshiping finally poured into our home with results. Our family Bible Study this week was on certain disciplines that believers should have: 1) Fasting. I taught the kids what it means and how to do it. They practiced it on the short term; Brielle said she would go to her room and pray whenever her brothers were eating chocolate. Anakin said he would pray and read the Bible instead of playing with legos during free-time. And Caleb said he would fast the Xbox - and this week he has not played on it. The kids have seen me fast my morning cup of coffee and have Jasmine tea instead. 2) Meditation. Teaching them to think about what they think about. Learning how David meditated on God's Word and wrote songs about it. Going deeper than just reading the Bible but thinking about it until it changes your point of view and your way of life. The kids said they want to learn more about this. 3) Bible Study: Focusing on learning what God's Word says and learning who God is and, consequently, who we are.
Now up until this point I will add that I know a lot of church-attending adults who have not mastered these skills, and as a woman in my 30s that has been saved half my life now, I'm still working on it. So up until now I didn't know how all of these concepts were going to apply to my 4, 6, and 8 year old. But I know that at the very least, they would see this as a family tradition, that "this is how we roll", and I was hoping that when they're older they would understand.
I had no idea how much they understood right now until today.
I ask them, "What are the benefits of studying God's Word?"
Brielle: That's how it spreads. When you learn God's Word, then you can share it with others who don't hear it, and more people learn about God.
Anakin: Yeah, like for example, Phillip. In Acts, he walked next to an Egyptian who was trying to read from Isaiah but he understand it. This is what he was reading *flips to the appropriate text in Isaiah and reads that whole chapter* - but Phillip was ready to answer the Egyptian, because like 1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be ready to give an answer for the hope you have in Christ Jesus." Phillip had studied God's Word, and he knew that Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus, so he shared the gospel with the Egyptian and the Egyptian got baptized right there on the spot! And you know what? That Egyptian probably went home and shared the gospel with his family and friends too!
Brielle: Yeah, and by the way, reading the Bible is the only way you get faith. Because it says it in Romans I think? I can't remember exactly where it but says that faith comes by hearing the message of Christ, and we can't expect people to have faith in Christ if they've never heard it. So our faith grows when we study the Bible and we can help build other people's faith with what we've studied.
*Insert jaw dropping*
Anakin: And it also helps us do the right thing. It's like it says in James. *turns to James chapter 1*. I think it's verse 5 *reads verse 5* Wow that's a good one! That's not the one I was thinking of, but give me a minute I'm going to highlight it. It reminds me that God can give me wisdom just by asking, and He won't be mean to me about it... but hold on, that's not the one I was looking for. *skims through*, here it is! Verse 24 and 25 *reads from verse 23 to about 25* studying God's Word helps us to put it to practice so we can be doers of the Word, and not just people who hear it.
Caleb: And reading the Bible we'll learn to be nicer to each other.
Brielle: Like Jonathan was to David, or Ruth was to Naomi... those are my favorite Bible stories so far, because they show each other kindness. Or how David knows NOT to kill Saul, even though he could, but because David knew God he made a good choice...
Caleb: Can we pray now? I wanna pray first.
And then they prayed. They prayed that God would cover the Christians in Iraq with a cloud by day and fire by night so that the Muslims (ISIS) cannot find them and hunt them down in the wilderness, and that God would pour water from the rock for them, and that they would find shelter and freedom. And for God to continue helping Israel. Unprompted.
In fact, up until this point I have not opened my mouth at all.
What are they doing now? I am not making this up: They have called their friends over - there are about 2 boys, one of them I don't know - and they are talking about their favorite Bible verses and teaching these boys to highlight the verses in their Bible. Caleb is writing all over himself. Brielle is asking these older boys to help her read these verses. I'm blogging in tears.
Does God speak in the average? In the mundane? To the stay at home moms, or the families who don't have ministry titles or important jobs within the church? Who do "nothing but stay home all day"?
Yes. Yes! Hallelujah YES!
Now I have to go get ready for work. And I need to introduce myself to this crowd of kids sitting on my porch with their bikes all over our parking lot. But wow. Yes! YES!