Monthly Archives: January 2022

Daily Bread

The boys and I had a good visit this weekend. We arrived home a little after noon for a sit-down family lunch of chicken soup and crackers. Eating meals together at the dining room table has been a regular occurrence since our family began. Growing up this wasn’t as much of a practice for us, at least not in the junior high and high school years. When I first started getting to know Josh’s family one of the first things I noticed was the way they did their meals. They had meat, potatoes, a vegetable, and bread nearly every night. On Sunday afternoons they went out for lunch with my father-in-law’s side of the family. Sunday evenings were at my husband’s grandparents’ house with my mother-in-law’s family. At home they ate their supper at the dining room table.

Sometimes we ate at the table, and sometimes we didn’t. My favorite place to eat was in the living room just casually sitting around. We sometimes had supper together as a family with a meal, and other times it was whatever you could find after coming home from games or practice. My favorite meal to make was a bowl of spaghetti, with no sauce and lots of butter. We didn’t even own a dining room table at that time. For years we ate off a borrowed table from church. I remember as a kid eating off of an upside-down box, but that was because we’d just moved to a new apartment. Sometimes Dad would leave the house long after suppertime and come home from the store with steak and tator tots and eat a meal at 10PM. I didn’t like steak back then. It was too hard.

With the exception of the first year or so, it took a while after being married, probably 8-10 years, before I could visit my parents house and not be deeply annoyed by something. When you’re living with someone else, establishing your own life together and new ways of doing things, it can be jarring to return to a former way, especially if those ways seem out of line with your redeveloping standard of normal. I was angry with my parents for a lot of years as I wrestled with flaws I did not understand. My dad has said this about his relationship with his dad, that he too was angry with his own father until he was able to look at his dad and his father’s life with more compassion. For some I think this takes more time. For yet others, they seem to come away from childhood without much needing to be worked out. It isn’t something they think about.

I can still remember the day I wasn’t angry anymore. These years I’m truly just happy to see them. I’ve sometimes wondered if at least one of the reasons God put the commandment to honor our father and our mother is because he knew just how much the human heart could be angry. He knew how much time could be wasted and lost. I know that isn’t everybody’s situation, but it was mine. My second life revealed to me things about my first life that were good and rare. It also opened my eyes to significant areas of weakness. When it comes to something like marital communication, I’ve come to think of it as an exchange taking place between two people, one of whom is deaf, and the other who is blind. It makes any talk of a healing Jesus all the more beautiful. (Oh no, not hope, not that…) And though God painfully doesn’t heal everything in this life, it doesn’t change the word of life that in him the eyes of the blind are opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

The table my parents have now isn’t big. It was just right enough for the boys to sit down and eat their breakfast this morning. It seems these days Mom and Dad take turns cooking. This morning Mom made scrambled eggs, waffles, and beef bacon. I took my plate and carried it into the living room to eat where Mom and Grandma were.

Happiness Is

When my dad turned 34, I remember him saying he still felt like he was 20. When I was 34, I definitely would’ve been able to say the same thing on some days. Five years later, I definitely don’t feel like I’m 20, and find it hard to recall what exactly 20 felt like.

I walked around the house feeling motherly today. Motherly to me means kind, gentle, and patient. In the 26-34ish age range, motherly is what I wanted to be, along with a few other things. Motherly and fun. Motherly and (seen as) wise. Motherly but still a woman.

But today it was motherly. Making breakfast for the big kids. Folding laundry during school. Answering questions about math. Going over calendars. Enjoying supper as a family. Drying dishes with the child on dish duty. From here I could be okay with this.

Kind, gentle, patient.

There was nothing else I was wanting.

Baby Steps

On the first night of class our teacher encouraged us to talk to her if we ever needed different arrangements for a due date. She said she understood we had lives outside of school and would work with us and be flexible. I thought of this yesterday when I was looking over the upcoming assignments and realized our first paper, due the 22nd, wasn’t due a few weeks from now but rather at the end of this week. When I first looked at the syllabus I saw the 22nd and thought, “Oh that’s still a while away. I’ve got time.”

Later this week I’m scheduled to be staying with my grandma up at my parents’ house. They’re taking my sister on a college visit to Michigan. I would be gone from Thursday morning to Saturday afternoon, with the paper (4-5 pages) due on Saturday night. The math was not adding up in my head when I considered that the paper is on a book that I still need to finish reading so I can write the paper on it. I didn’t want to count on working on it or stressing about it during the 2 1/2 days I’m with my grandma. I also didn’t want to arrive home Saturday afternoon to be lost for hours rushing to write a paper due at midnight. Long story short, I asked last night about altering the due date.

“How much time do you need?”, she asked. All I’d gotten out was something like, “Um, you know how you mentioned asking about if we needed to work something out for a different due date? So, with the paper we have due on the 22nd–.” I didn’t even tell her my reason for asking. I started to then thought, “Wait, that’s not what she asked. Stick to the question.” I said if I could have until the end of the weekend that would be better.

She said to have it before class on Monday, almost a whole other day than what I had asked for. I walked away feeling extremely relieved, and grateful this teacher’s arrangement had been possible. I’ve decided now that I need to get my calendar back out, write stuff down on it, and look at it, the looking at it being the major next step. I’ve gotten better about writing stuff down, but I’m learning that writing stuff down on your calendar so you don’t forget things still doesn’t help unless you look at your calendar.

Even with the adjustments taking place with getting used to this new ball I am juggling, I’m loving my classes. Last night we had to pair up with a classmate and practice once being the counselor and once being the client. Emotionally Focused Therapy based on the currently popular Attachment Theory was the one we were supposed to practice. I was so moved by the life-story shared with me by my “client”, as he told me a little about the past two years of his life and what had led him there. I kept wanting to ask him even more questions, fueled not by the process of EFT, but solely by my own curiosity. I didn’t. I asked if there was anything he was looking forward to, even in his uncertainty.

Church Growth

Earlier this month our church installed a new pastor. His arrival ended the vacancy that lasted almost exactly two years. During that time our church was well taken care of by our two part-time pastors, my husband being one of them. Considering the circumstances of them both having other jobs along with navigating the various covid challenges, I can see how God sustained and took care of his people there.

We’ve shrunk dramatically in size over the past four to five years. What I liked about our church when we started is that they had families and kids there. With the kids homeschooling, I wanted a church where they could have church friends. We had an active youth group, a full pre-k through high school Sunday School classes, and a decent-sized rotation of teachers. I can still see hallways busy with kids. It isn’t like that now.

I’ve been down and unenthused about it for a while, not where it’s completely taking over my life, but in affecting my time investments and emotional involvement when it came to church. What frustrated me most was that we couldn’t just leave and go somewhere else. By the time the loss in members had become painfully obvious, Josh had already taken a part-time call there. There were issues that I do not fully understand and stayed out of, but from the little I picked up on here and there, it didn’t seem like anything big enough to justify such a loss of people.

They’re trying to revive the once a month family nights. We went last night and it was okay. I’ve had a bad attitude about things like family nights because I don’t like things that seem superficial and pointless. I just keep wanting richer and deeper relationships with people, to grow spiritually with others through fellowship, and playing “Minute to Win-It” on a Saturday evening isn’t how I imagine doing those things.

We had fun at the game night. It seemed like others did too, like we were all at least attempting to be present in the moment and make the most of what we had. With our family there were nine other people. I simultaneously feel convicted for not valuing the ones who’ve been there this whole time, and like God is opening my heart to be able to love more people again. I feel love for our church and know that God does too.

Orange and Clove

The snow accumulated for the second time last night. The first snow did not arrive until after Christmas, which made the entire month of December feel off. What fell last night was enough to play in, so after lunch, the kids bundled up for about an hour of sledding. When I stepped outside myself, I was surprised by the wind’s bitterness, and the way the kids didn’t even seem to notice how cold it was. I checked my phone expecting a below zero wind-chill, but the “feels like” temperature was only 12 degrees.

It’s been a good week here. My first week of classes went well. The homework assignments have been minimal thus far, but next week the reading really starts to pick up. For my online class, I had to write a 200-300 word response to one of three prompts from this week’s reading requirement. We’re supposed to reply to two classmates by midnight tonight, which I still need to do. I was also prepared to answer multiple questions for our quiz this week, but when I clicked on the link for it, there was only one True or False statement: I have completed the reading for this week’s assignment.

My night class on Monday became comfortable quickly. I arrived early enough to find a seat in the back row, except there were no rows, only chairs on wheels scattered like giant spiders across the lecture room. They’re like those chairs with the desks on one side, but with five or six spokes at the bottom, with wheels. I chose and rolled a chair to be nearer to the back wall since I don’t like sitting in class with people behind me. We have a paper and 20-30 minute presentation due in a few weeks, but I’m not going to worry about those yet. This week I just enjoyed the experience of being there.

On Redeeming Love

I posted yesterday but ended up deleting it at 4AM. I had written about some buzzing I’d heard on Instagram about a controversial movie coming out called Redeeming Love. It’s based on a popular Christian fiction book by Francine Rivers. There are dissenting options about the book and whether or not it’s appropriate for Christian women to read. From some women the book comes highly recommended, with them saying it’s an amazing story of God’s redemption and healing. Others say it is the equivalent of an erotic romance novel, but with a Christian disguise. They say that the book was damaging because of the way it opened the door to sexual temptation, body insecurities, and/or caused relational discontent because they were not being so wildly loved and pursued like Angel was by Michael Hosea.

I haven’t read the book so I don’t feel like I can comment on the content. It did make me curious about the book and the movie. I haven’t read Redeeming Love, which is supposed to be a retelling of the biblical story of Hosea and Gomer, but I do vaguely remember reading parts of another Francine Rivers book called A Lineage of Grace. That book is a collection of stories about each of the women mentioned in the family line of Jesus. At some point the book was passed along to me as being one of those books I needed to read. In adulthood I haven’t been much of a fiction reader, so I wasn’t particularly interested in it. But I must have at least looked through it at one point, because I do remember thinking that the writing had probably become a bit much when describing Bathsheba’s apparent feelings for David.

Not that I need to keep explaining all this, but I deleted the post because I felt like I had brought up a potentially sensitive topic without giving much thought to what it was I was saying. I don’t want to do that with sensitive topics. These are issues that I think need to be talked about, and are being talked about well in many places I’ve seen. The church is receiving a lot of criticism these days, much of it being, sadly, warranted. But while “the church” is quickly becoming another one of those loosely thrown around terms that I do think needs to be better defined, I still consider myself part of the church. As I’m sitting here thinking about it, being a part of the church has to be one of the greatest, if not the absolute greatest joys of my life. I used to think joy was the key marker of a Christian. Now I would say that Jesus is.

Math Facts

I bit the bullet and went back to the math books this morning. This first semester we did math a little differently. My idea was to spend some time with all the boys working on multiplication tables. I feel like the multiplication tables were one of the most helpful and lasting things I learned in all my years of elementary school, and I’ve wanted my kids to have that same math foundation, though I haven’t necessarily known the best or most helpful way to facilitate the learning of it. Math came very easy to me. My first child is the same way and taught himself his own math. With the others it’s been an occasional challenge. For some reason I’ve been avoiding long-division for years.

Today though, we faced it. There were tears and even a crumpled up book. But after that, it wasn’t bad. I’m not interested in torturing anybody, or even insisting people do every problem in their lesson. The Christian Light Education LightUnits are thorough and assure me they’re working through the stuff they need to learn, but their thoroughness can also be frustratingly repetitive with certain types of problems. I remember some teachers when assigning math homework would have you do the odd’s one lesson and then the even’s for the next lesson. I always appreciated that. I haven’t done the even and odd thing, but I consciously try to lighten the math load.

Working all together is nice in theory, and works for a while. It simplifies things and makes sure we’re all on the same page. But especially in a subject like math, there comes a point where trying to keep everyone at the same level for the sake of simplicity starts to hold people back. I also seem to have limits as far as how long I can be consistent with things, such as printing out multiplication sheets each day to practice. So while I think the past few months working on multiplication facts was helpful, and while we all enjoyed the break from the normal math routine, ultimately the math books are a valuable parts to a wheel that is highly unnecessary for me to re-invent.

Shelves and Flooring

Yesterday Josh and I went to Menards to pick out flooring. It’s been on the to-do list to replace the carpet in our bedroom with a similar laminate to the rest of the upstairs. Our maintenance man came this morning and got a little more than half of it done. It often seems a project does not go as smoothly as you hoped it would. With this one the floor boards were too tall for the trim, so that’s going to have to be re-nailed. I’ve been wanting to give that room a makeover for a while, so this seems like the chance to do so. There are a few other house things that didn’t get done last winter, which perhaps can get done this one.

Back at the chiropractor this morning, I asked him if he’d seen a lot of sick people. He said he’d seen more sick people in the past two weeks than he’s seen in the past year. While I was there my counselor called to cancel her week’s appointments after testing positive for covid. My husband’s meeting for the high school was switched to a Zoom meeting because they want to limit the people coming into the building. I’m still feeling gradually better each day, but with a caution and illness’s memory still fresh in my mind. It’s like this sober state-of-being that says whatever I just got over, I do not want to get again, or catch anything else.

Homeschool continues to go well. We’ve got a really good routine this year. The boys are really good about keeping up with their work. I bought them each bookshelf baskets to keep their books in this year. It’s satisfying to me to see their books organized in their boxes on the shelf. Every so often I start to worry that they aren’t learning enough, that their math skills aren’t up to par, etc. It’s easy to brush it off during the pre-school and earlier elementary years saying that the play time, life skills, and lifestyle homeschooling provides make up for any lack of division abilities. But as the kids get older I feel that pressure more to make sure they’re learning the things needed for them to succeed not just in life, but in actual school. I do think they’re generally doing quite well, it’s just hard sometimes to not have that gauge or feedback letting me know that I’m doing well too.

Secure

This afternoon I took a drive to find the school where I start on Monday. I wanted to have an idea of where I was going, and to find the building for my class while it was still light outside and I could better see the signs on the buildings. The in-person class I have is a night class that goes from 6:30PM-10. By the time I would get there on Monday it’d already be dark. This way I found the building and know where to park and to go.

On the way home I listened to a podcast by a woman about New Year’s Resolutions. She doesn’t believe in resolutions, but believes in setting an intention for the new year through the choosing of a word. Instead of choosing your intention from a place of shame or lack, such as “I want to be more organized”, she encouraged you to imagine what you want to feel more of, and choose from there. She chose the word “effective”.

I wasn’t going to choose a word this year, but after listening to the podcast, if I were to choose one, I decided on the word “secure”. I’m going into this year feeling more at peace and secure in my life. For example, with these classes starting, I’m feeling confident that I can do this, that I do not have to do school the same ways I’ve done it, which included a lot of procrastination and pulling things together at the last minute.

Driving there today was a way of being kind to myself. “Hey Rebekah, let’s take you there so you know even a little more what to expect. Let’s cut down on the stress of driving around in the dark beforehand and being late on the first day because you didn’t know where you were going. Let’s make that extra effort now that will make things easier for you later.” I feel more secure now that I have been there once.

I want to feel more secure in my intimate relationship. We know each other now. There are no secrets between us, no major surprises to be discovered about the other. I’m not trying to impress him and he no longer needs to impress me. That doesn’t mean we have a pass to be complacent and lazy. We have significant growth from last year which we can continue to build on. From this place I would like to write more about marriage.

Church Plants

The high school called at 6AM to say the high school was closed today. Thirty percent of the student body has either been exposed to Covid or tested positive for Covid. Two of the teachers are out with it as well. Since the pandemic, they’ve had a handful of these cancelled school days for everyone to rest and regroup. The kids have been in person this entire school year so far, though there are rumors of going remote again.

It’s chilly here today. The temperature is registering at 10 degrees. That’s not the coldest temperature ever, but you wouldn’t want to be stuck outside at those temps. I had the kids bring in our old cat Ghost. We thought Ghost was dying over the summer. The hair around his neck fell out and he stopped eating. We brought him inside so that he at least could die in the comfort of air conditioning, but then he never died. He slowly started eating again and the hair on his neck grew back. Normally one of our outside stray cats, he lived inside for several months until it was clear that he was better. He has something wrong with his nose where he sneezes regularly, and with every sneeze he sprays nasal fluid wherever he’s sitting. I finally got tired of that and put him back outside. We put the three outside strays in the garage when it gets cold.

We had a small birthday party for one of my sons yesterday. He turned 13 years old, which makes for three teenagers. Winter is our birthday season, with four of the five kids being born in the winter months of January-March. Without going back and reading old posts, it’s hard for me to know how many times I’ve relayed that information during these years of blogging. Certainly I’ve mentioned it here more than once or twice.

The books for my classes came in the mail today. Next week I officially start at Lincoln Christian University in their Masters of Counseling program. The two classes I’m taking are Into to God’s Word and Theories in Counseling. The theories class is an 8-week class that once it is over, turns into Abnormal Psychology for then another 8-week class. That makes for a total of three classes over the semester. I’m actually looking forward to it.

The way it came about is kind of silly. After going back to the doctor to follow up in the fall, he once again recommended anti-depressants and counseling. He says the anxiety has been an issue for several years and he thinks Prozac would basically wipe that out. I wasn’t interested in taking anti-depressants, and after all of last year with all the reading and personal healing I did I really didn’t think I needed anymore counseling (which I did for 2 1/2 years in the 2017-2019 range) or personal introspection. But I wanted to follow at least one of his suggestions. I asked if he had a recommendation of a place to call and he gave me the name of a church that does counseling services. When I called them up, they said they were capped off with a 50 person waiting list.

I googled and found another local Christian place, but it stood out to me that there was that high of a demand. I’m kind of tired of spending money on myself. This particular place bypasses insurance, which we don’t have, and pro-rates the prices based on income, which helps a little. It’s still $100 every time I go. I’ve gone three times so far and have been spacing them out to about every three weeks, not including holiday weeks that have happened in there. The girl I’m going to is a recent graduate from this Lincoln University. After one of our visits I came home and looked up the program.

The counseling program is offered through their seminary, which I think is funny. Because of that I have three theology class requirements, hence the Intro to God’s Word. The other two are church history and systematic theology. I actually was wishing the other day that I could take more theology classes and less psychology ones, but that’s okay. The MA in Counseling requires 60 hours and would be a very practical degree. Lord-willing when I’m done with it, I want to go back to the Hope Counseling Center with the 50-person wait list and apply for a job. If that doesn’t work out then I hope to be able to use it to somehow serve the people in my local church community. Things like grief support, marriage encouragement, and basic mental health care are practical health and human services I feel important to provide for our Christian communities when possible. These are all services I wish would’ve been more readily available to me through the years. I know others could’ve benefited greatly as well.