Walking by Light and Truth

Psalm 43 has meant a lot to me lately, and I want to take a few moments to tell you why.

Everyone goes through tough patches in life. It’s how God grows us. Mine is now, and I’m often confused and lacking hope. Verse 3 says, “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me.” And that’s what I’ve been praying.

When God sends me His light, then I can see more clearly what is happening. I will be more understanding of myself and others, and I will be less likely to react in ungodly ways. How does He send me His light? I think it’s through lots of little and big ways. Through sermons (we just, conveniently, had one on marriages, which is applicable to my problems). Through counselors. Through devotionals and Bible readings. Through books, like the Boundaries book I’m studying. Also through friends who pray for me. Natural light actually produces Vitamin D in our bodies which nourishes us and fights depression symptoms. Spiritual light fights hopelessness in much the same way.

When God sends me His truth, then I know that if I follow His truth, I won’t be wrong. It is reassuring to understand that God’s opinion of me and His understanding of my motives matters more than anyone else’s opinion. If my vertical relationship with God is right, then my horizontal relationships can be out of whack and it doesn’t matter that much because God will either pull them back into position or… I don’t know… leave them the way they are. Because God cares about me. God sends His truth and light to me. And He doesn’t do that to every single person out there.

I still feel in the dark sometimes. But I know God will answer “Yes” when I ask Him to send me His light and truth. And I know He will also answer “Yes” when I ask Him to lead me. It’s a matter of faith. I don’t see all the results yet, but I know God is working on His Yes answer.

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An Interior with a Woman

An Interior with a Woman by Vilhelm Hammershoi, c. 1900-1909

This lovely, mysterious painting suits me right now. The layers of rooms, the strangeness of having the woman facing away, the mysteriousness of what she is looking at, the open door and closed door, the middle ground, the signs on the walls, the purity of the light, and the way it reminds me of Vermeer: it all strikes a chord. I don’t even want to know what her face is like. I am glad she seems to be a private person, and I am glad she has a place in these clean rooms.

It makes me think that everyone has secrets, and problems, and reasons to keep one door closed and one door open.

I seem to have gotten my internal clock mixed up, and so I can’t fall asleep until around 3 in the morning, and then I don’t have much energy in the mornings when I get up. But maybe that’s this woman’s problem, too. You never know. Sometimes it’s good that you can’t tell everything about a person just by looking.

Summer Vacation has Begun

Now that summer has begun, here’s what I’m thinking about homeschool:

  • I refuse to regret anything in the past year; it went well enough, and the kids learned things.
  • I have a lot of research to do during the summer.
    • I have to get new history curriculum (or decide to do more unit studies).
    • I have to decide which math program to move my middle daughter into. She’s not thriving on Math-U-See.
    • I have to decide if this is the year we begin learning Spanish.
    • I want a more thorough language arts curriculum (in combination with the literature I choose to read aloud) because I don’t want it to be all on me to teach them the technicalities of writing and grammar. I’m a little vague on the technicalities.
    • I might want to purchase a different typing program because Keyboarding Without Tears is getting old and tiresome for the girls.
    • I need to find ways to keep my son busy doing things he loves. Thankfully, he does love some aspects of school.

And here’s what I’m thinking about summer vacation:

  • I want to be more creative with our time than I was last year. Go places, be brave, but not so brave that I get lost or in situations I can’t handle.
  • My son is now mowing lawn, so I’ll probably be clipping edges all summer. He doesn’t get as close as last year’s lawn mower. I need to convince myself that this is okay. The last time I clipped, my hand wouldn’t stop twitching for 24 hours. Hopefully that doesn’t continue.
  • I hope the pool is enjoyable for the kids and I this summer because it’s a great place to go when everything else is boring.
  • And I want to paint that picture I promised myself on New Years!! I just have to begin.

 

One hundred percent

I had a talk with my husband tonight about lots of things, and it was confusing, but it did break through some nasty silences, and anyway, I feel better now about hashing some of my thoughts out here, now that I’ve at least mentioned them to my husband first.

When we were first married, he told me (and I was willing to agree) that everything we had was 100 percent his and 100 percent mine. I have since found out that this is easy to say, but feeling like it is true is impossible, at least for me. In an effort to make it true (or more true), I believe I got it into my head that he and I were 100 percent one person. And so if he did something stupid, it was just the same as if I did something stupid. And I could legitimately beat myself up for it, or legitimately get angry at him for making me stupid.

I wish I had never believed that statement. Because actually, I’m different than him, and his weaknesses are his, not mine. I can’t fix them by being better at them myself. We all have our own personal struggles, and we all have our own minds and ways of thinking.

It’s super hard for me to tell myself that there is nothing I can do about the way my husband is right now. It’s hard to form a little fence around myself and say, “Hey, I’ve got some work to do on the inside of this fence right now, and the way you are is doing more damage than help, so I’ve got to keep you out.” It will be hard to know when it’s okay to open the gate. Probably, I’ll open it more often than is good for me.

Ideally, that gate should be open to my husband 100 percent of the time. But this time in my life is not ideal. And I might have to settle for 25 percent. Or whatever. In the meantime, I work on the inside of my fence, getting advice from wise people (letting the good in), and wisely taking the advice (making myself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually stronger while keeping the bad out). Sounds just as easy at that 100 percent theory sounded, but it’s not. It is so very hard to do the right thing. Only God really knows exactly the right thing, and following His will is something you do when you have those moments of personal strength (or faith). It’s so easy to mess up and do your own thing. It’s also so easy to think that my husband ought to be doing the same thing as me. But of course, we’re not the same person, and even our fences and gates are different. For instance, what’s going on right now in this post is helpful to me, but if my husband tried to read it, he probably wouldn’t understand it in the same way. And get offended. Or give up on ever understanding me. But that’s what I’m keeping out right now… I am not him. His thoughts are not mine. Shut that gate.

My Beautiful Children

It’s Mother’s Day, but that didn’t mean much to me this year. It does mean something to my girls, so I accept their little gifts. And I notice how sweet my children are. This post is to honor them, and I’ll break my unwritten rule of not using their names on this blog.

Eddie, age 10. He’s in that inbetween age of playing with toys and not playing with toys. He works hard in most school subjects, and has really excelled in math this year. Eddie surprises me with his diplomacy skills, working between his sisters and I to get something accomplished. Yesterday, he convinced us all to go to a park. He wanted to play basketball with the ball he received for Christmas (and which his mother so unfairly forbid him to play with in the house). It was his first time playing basketball, and he’s not that great, but hey… neither am I! I have despised the sport since a young age, but yesterday Eddie and I played PIG and HORSE and it was fun! We both had fun together. I won, surprisingly, but I did get letters. It wasn’t like I skunked him completely. And he was a good sport about it. Afterward, we sat on the big swing together and watched the girls play with their new park friend on the playground.

Lucy, age 9. My gymnast. My mama’s girl. She is so especially nice to me, and I like that. It’s nice to be the favored one, the one Lucy will talk to and share secrets with. Lately, when we play a game, she’ll try to fix it so I win. It doesn’t always work, but then she’ll cheat at the very end so that I end up winning. I don’t advocate this, but it’s sweet of her:) She writes me little love notes and makes lovely homemade cards with pictures of me and her (and of course, a cake, because cakes are fun to draw). At random moments she’ll see me and say, “Moooommmm!” and run up and give me a big hug and kiss. And she loves stuffed animals and cats, just like I did.

Heather, age 7. I don’t think Heather has a selfish bone in her body. She is so generous and thoughtful. She does little secret things to show her kindness to me. For instance, her toothbrush came with a cover, and most nights I’ll find her cover on my brush because she wants me to have the special cover. I always return it to her brush, and I don’t explain about germs because it’s too sweet:) When Heather gets candy, she shares it. When I was sick with the flu awhile back, she took especial care of me and brought me my favorite cat to lie on my bed with me. She loves art, and I love her effort. Heather is so creative. She also makes beautiful homemade cards and writes I Love Mom on just about everything.

Well, I love my children, too. They truly are God’s gift to me.

A Chance to Clear My Thoughts

I set my kids the task of clearing up the toy clutter, so I now have a chance to clear my thoughts, which are many.

First thought: It’s fieldwork season; which means my farmer husband is going to have yet another aspect of work to do. I can think of so many things around the house that I would like help with: cleaning up all the garbage littering our farm, getting a hose ready that I can attach a sprayer to (because the birds are up to their dirty business on my windows again), making a plan about the weeds that come back with new determination every year, the garage door needs repainting, and so does the picnic table now that I’m thinking about it, and the mold in the upstairs bathroom is looking bad again, and I simply don’t know what to do about it. Plus, it looks as if a big patch of the lawn died even though I did mow the leaves last fall. I need to do some major raking on the lawn to remove twigs and nuts. I understand that I can do some of this myself, but some of it is beyond my skill level. I get such a hopeless feeling when I contemplate the state of our farm.

Second thought: My husband said, “There must be something you can concentrate on instead…” So I thought about that. I’m doing fine on homeschooling. What am I supposed to be concentrating on? My home. The Bible says I should be busy at home. I’m obeying and not obeying at the same time because I’m busy at home, but my busyness at home is creating needs that I can’t meet by myself, and so I’m discontent. But how can I be content with this place? Sure, if the neighborhood suddenly got bombed or hit by a major tornado or something, and my home stayed the same, I’d probably be content with it. Because then the standard changes. Then it’s about survival only, not living appropriately with beauty and order.

Next thought: I really want a therapist or counselor. I feel like I need to get some of this hashed out. But the closest nouthetic counselor is too far away. And I don’t do Skype. The nouthetic counseling network doesn’t have anyone who counsels via emails; I checked. There must be someone who will counsel me via email…

Another thought: I’m reading a little book about bitterness (and this may be another post someday), and I know I have bitterness problems. But am I bitter about sin or not? I honestly can’t tell. Is forgetfulness and lack of thought sin? Is acting differently in the company of different people sin? Is falling asleep in church sin? I could go on. I am super confused about this, and I can’t untangle the answer.

Final thought: Bitterness comes with a sort of hardness. In some cases, this hardness seems necessary… or I’d be crying constantly. And yet, I am called to have a gentle spirit. Am I gentle or harsh? I seem to flip-flop. I wish I could just find a magic potion to make it okay to trust my husband again. I’m starting to feel stupid for believing him.

This does help me. I think I can go play a game or read a book before sending my kids to bed. Thank you for hearing me out.