I haven’t posted for than two months–I didn’t realize how long it had been until several of my real-life friends told me they missed my posts. I appreciate that. Life has been overwhelmingly busy the past few months. Busy and hard. If I am honest, it has been emotionally difficult, too, and that perhaps more than the busy-ness of our lives has made it difficult for me to sit down and write.
We are in the full swing of our school routine here. Most mornings we start school somewhere around 7:30. I know that is not a big deal for my public-school friends. One of the reasons I love homeschooling is that we can accomplish so much in less time, and the benefit for many, many years included starting school later–usually between 9 and 9:30–after the children awoke in happy moods and chores were accomplished. My girls are all night owls, and getting up at 6:30 is very difficult for them. Like taking vitamins, though, it is also good for them, and right now it is necessary. Dee leaves here to go to her college classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at a little after ten. That means I have to accomplish all our Bible and memory work, our family worship time, our history and our government by ten each morning. On Thursdays the three older girls and I all leave at the same time: 8:20. I head to my Wounded Heart group, and they head off to science classes. We have to finish our Bible time, memory work and family worship as well as make their lunches by 8:20. Fridays Dee and Star Child leave at 8:20 to go to analytical Literature. Then Dee has college classes until 1:00, so Star Child hangs out on campus and does independent assignments until they both come home.
We are working feverishly to finish up Dee’s high school math requirements. I would highly recommend to my fellow homeschooling friends to NOT get behind in math. It is very difficult to finish it all in the senior year. Dee loves her college classes, but they do present an extra burden of work. The benefit is getting an entire high school credit in one semester while also earning college credit. I am glad she is experiencing deadlines from other teachers. As her mom and teacher, I find that I am much more prone to giving mercy than demanding strong deadlines. It is one of my weaknesses, and having outside teachers is one way for her to learn that necessity. We decided at the last minute to have Dee take Anatomy and Physiology for a fourth year of science. Most of the colleges to which she applied do not require this, but one did, so it was worth it to make sure she qualified for any possible college.
The good news is that Dee has received her first college acceptance letter! She declared that she loved North Greenville University because “it feels like home” when we visited there a few weeks ago. It felt good for this mama to see that acceptance letter. I am learning what documents one should take to a college when applying, and we had everything we needed that day. She has two college applications still waiting for slightly better test scores, and hopefully the last ACT scores will do the trick for her.
Dee also got a part-time job at a local pizza place. Lindy works there as an assistant manager and convinced the owner that he needed another insider. Lindy then called Dee and told her to apply. Evidently nepotism can be a good thing, especially when the new hire actually has a work ethic. The boss man loves Dee.
A few weeks ago Dee wrecked the Toyota. It was a minor incident right down the street from our trusted mechanic. He was able to send the tow-truck to pick up the car and he had it fixed in a day. Dee has hopefully learned to hit the squirrel next time. It was a costly mistake, and part of her earnings go to pay for that damage.
Meanwhile, back at home, Star Child has a heavy year for her junior year. She will have it a bit easier than Dee in her senior year simply because we are doing all the government and economics classes right now. We plan to have Star Child do the dual enrollment next year, along with a fourth science and the rest of her math. Gladys Mae is in her freshman year, which we decided at the last minute to do. She was borderline on her year, and we opted to push her ahead. She is taking Biology on Thursdays while her sisters take Spanish III. It has been an adjustment for her to have deadlines, too. She is much more laid-back about such things than she needs to be, so a wake-up call is not such a bad thing.
Little Princess is deep into the second grade. We do a lot of reading together, and she is working on her math and hand writing. Over the summer my cousin NiNi reinforced for me the importance of handwriting and penmanship. I fear it is a lost battle with the older girls, but Little Princess is a clean slate, and by golly, she is going to have beautiful penmanship
if it kills me.
The boys are the boys….concerned with legos and cars and “helping Daddy” around the house. Lil’ Adventurer has been learning his letters because Star Child has taken to teaching them to him. He is also very interested in drawing. While Little Princess makes pictures of hearts and rainbows with little notes declaring her love for the Handy Man and me, Lil’ Adventurer uses reams of paper drawing buildings, impossible cars and stick people. We should buy stock in a paper company. Curious George is himself…every curious and into everything, although his food fascination stage seems to be over. (Thank God!) He is not at all interested in ditching the diapers, and for now, I am not pushing the issue. His main enjoyment seems to come from causing his older siblings to scream in frustration. He is the archetypal little brother.
The Handy Man is having a hard time. He does have his first interview next week, so that is encouraging. We know that God has a plan and that He will provide for us. It is just discouraging to be on the waiting end. It feels like all we do is wait. Meanwhile, Christmas is barreling down, and while we can go lean with our kids, the extended family seems to have certain expectations about what we do for Christmas. (I generally make baskets full of candies and cookies and little things that I think they might like.) It is stressful to think about it.
If you are inclined to do so, you could pray for us. It seems that men identify themselves with their jobs, and sometimes it feels like we are struggling with our very identities–him because of the work situation and me because of other things. Even in the midst of this trial–and I don’t want to minimize how hard this has been–I am grateful for it, at least most days. There are some days when I am not feeling so grateful. I am trying to obey God and do as Paul did–rejoice in all circumstances. Sometimes even the spirit is weak. But God is not, and that is my only hope.
I mentioned at the beginning of this long catch-up that I am in a Wounded Heart study. I am not sure how much I can share just yet simply because some of what I am learning is so personal and big that it cannot just be written for the world to read. This study is for the adult victim of childhood sexual abuse. The problem is that as a result of the abuse, I have a distorted idea of who God is, and I have distortions in how I relate with Him and with others. I never thought this was an issue, but the more I dig, the more I am learning that the emotions and feelings I have about myself and God that have been locked away DO affect my relationships–with God and with others. In that group of ladies, I feel safe to be exposed, to empty the well, to admit to things that are so deep and painful and embarrassing…only to learn that my deepest fears of being exposed are commonly shared and that my most embarrassing and shaming feelings and thoughts about myself are also commonly shared. Some question whether this is right. They assure me that God can heal instantly. And I believe that. However, I am seeing more and more that needs to be healed in myself, and it is freeing (though painful) to allow that to happen. I know that I have only touched the iceberg. Just going through the secondary symptoms of abuse was gut-wrenching as I began to see not only things I knew about already, but also to begin to shatter the denial of my own sin and self-identification that has kept me from fully enjoying God and all that He has for me.
This has been emotionally and physically exhausting. I have been experiencing severe headaches and even some migraines. Satan has waged war with my mind, and I was reminded again last night that God’s Word is true, and that I cannot allow Satan a foothold in that area. It is a battle and I am already weak. I know this is in part because God wants to show me how strong He is. It is scary to let go of self-protections, and yes, idols, that I have held onto for so long. In some cases, thirty years. Dying is hard work. But the promise is that when we take up the cross and follow Him, He will place his yoke on us and HIS yoke is easy and his burden is light. True words. Hard application, at least for me in this moment of time.
Even facing what I know to be true about how I was abused, even confronting memories that are so strong that I can remember smells and can hear a certain laugh in my head, my mind wants to refuse that it happened. I feel like I am two people inside my head…and yet, I know the truth is that I want to cling to the denial and to the mask that makes it all seem okay and detached. I am feeling for the first time the horror, because at that time it was not safe to feel those things, and I locked them away in a hidden recess of my heart and padlocked it and put on my “everything is okay” mask so the world wouldn’t know my shame and so I wouldn’t have to face my pain. Sometimes when I least expect it, that shame and pain bubble up, and now, I can let it out and express it, and it begins to lose its power over me.
The funny thing is that I am not sure who I am really. Okay, yes, I know that I am a child of the King, that I am saved by grace, that I am a wife and a mother….I know the facts of my life and who I am that way. I feel like I am beginning to be acquainted with a new Andrea…someone I do not quite know yet, and who I have been assured I will love. I hope that is so, because the truth is that I have not loved the Andrea I have been–the one who wears a mask that looks a certain way to the world. I wanted to punish myself–one reason I realized I ate–so I could look on the outside as ugly as I felt on the inside. The denial said that food felt safe and that the fat felt safe–and maybe that is partly true. But that wasn’t the whole truth. So the lie is that I need to punish myself. The truth is that Jesus bore my sin on Calvary, and that He has been righteous and holy in my place. See, I know the truth. The challenge is to live it. Okay, so I am still working on the food thing. I am not victorious YET, but I will be.
I have been a nail-biter my whole life. I hated my ragged, bleeding, torn fingers. I always attributed biting my nails to being nervous or stress…and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop. Will power wasn’t enough. I have realized that nail-biting was also a punishment of sorts. When I didn’t live up to the (often impossible) standard I had for myself, I would bite my nails. Stressed? Yes. Well, I stopped. I have not bitten my nails in several weeks. It has taken forever for them to grow out, but I did finally have to cut and file a few of them. It was a new experience for me. I have no idea how to keep them clean. It is disgusting the stuff that gets under them. I am just grateful to have that problem now.
So, I am a mess. A work in progress…with huge soul remodeling going on right now. But I know in the end that I will get better. God is not finished with me, and He will not leave me nor forsake me (that’s the part I sometimes have a hard time believing)–I cling to and stand upon that promise. And that is why I have not written lately. I have dropped a pants size, and, for the first time in my life, my nails are safe from mutilation. It may seem silly, but it is a mark for me that progress is being made, that change is happening, that this work is worth the effort. In the end, victory IS mine, even though I may have to go through the valley of the shadow of death to get there.
If you have made it to the end of this rambling post, thank you. Here are a few pictures of the past few months. They are in chronological order. Enjoy:
Curious George wanted to help rake. The Handy Man found a suitably sized rake. I love this shot!
Someone dropped this guy off a the top of our mountain. He was nice enough, but we cannot afford another dog right now. I played the part of Mean Mommy and called the pound. There were tears shed by a few. (Not by me, just to be clear.)
I was not home when this happened, but Gladys Mae thought it would be funny to get a picture of it. I was not amused. I love my great dane, but she is NEVER allowed on my bed. It makes me wonder what else she gets into when I am not here.
Lil’ Adventurer dressing up. This did amuse me. A lot.
A tea party. We sorely need Boy dress-up clothes. The spider-man suit must have been in the wash. This is a black-mail photo. We intend to use it at a wedding or graduation. The dirty face is a nice touch, no? Don’t worry–they did this just to appease their (sometimes bossy) big sister.
About 1/4 of our butternut squash harvest. We also had a few pumpkins in there. The Handy Man and the girls canned about 40 quarts of pumpkin and squash, we gave a good bit away, and I still have a few we will eat in the next few weeks.
On September 21st, my grandfather celebrated his 95th birthday. Almost the whole family got to be there, including me. I rode to DC with my brother and sister for a very quick trip. It was really great to be there. I will blog about it soon.
At the after party, we slipped away to have some one-on-one cousin time. I am on the left back row, with my brother Eric next to me and our cousin Sat Hari next to him. On the bottom row, our cousin Kaf sits next to her mother, my Aunt Brett, with my sister Jenny kneeling next to her. Too bad there is no family resemblance among us at all. 😉
The migration of the monarchs. We had some beautiful winged visitors for a day and a half. The tree was COVERED in them.
Two beautiful ladies: Dea on the left. She moved to another state recently, but she came home for her daughter to have a birthday party with all her friends (my girls included.) (Lindy is renting a room in her house right now.) Carol is on the right. She moved to the Philippines seven years ago to serve the Lord there, and she came back to see some family and friends. We had a delightful chance to spend a few evenings with her, and I took her as a surprise to the party. It was great fun!
I do not like Halloween, but Star Child dressed up to go to a local Christian college thing. She was the Mad Hatter. Her hat was a particular triumph. She made it from a cereal box, some cardboard, tape, and miscellaneous materials from around the house.
Victory over my nails!