Rozhdeniya Andreya: ukrepi moyu veru

(Это история про рождения Андрея– я писала это 5 недел после его рождения, в 2012м году.)

“Бог, пожалуйста, используй это рождение, чтобы укрепить мою веру ».

Это была молитва, которую Бог вложил в моем сердце в начале моей беременности. И у Него были все планы уже готовые, чтобы ответить на эту просьбу.

Уроки веры начались в течение шести месяцев, когда мы пытались забеременеть. Бог использовал это короткое время бесплодия, чтобы показать мне гордость в моем сердце. И Он также подчеркнул мне эту истину, что Он – Бог жизни. Он действительно лично участвует в зачатие, каждый раз, независимо от того, насколько это кажетья легко или трудно.

Эта беременность была, вероятно, во время самым напряженным периодом в моей жизни. Андре был зачат в июле. В октябре наша церковь открыла реабилитационный центр в нашем доме в селе, и Виталий ездил туда каждое воскресенье по среду. Одиночное родительство– это тяжело, особенно потому, что Виталий очень, очеть вовлечен в нашу семейную жизнь. Затем в декабре наш молодой племянник начал жить с нами после того, как его вывели из дома. Его мама пошла в реабилитационный центр, и он временно поселился с нами. Ему три года, и мы тогда узнали, что у него ДЦП. Он не мог нормально ходить или говорить.

Я рада, что мы приняли его. Это было тяжело, тяжело, тяжело для меня, потому что Виталий часто не был дома из за реб центра, и зимная погода мешала нас идти куда-то, и мы не снимали прямо в городе — и трое детей и очень беременная с четвертым также затрудняли все…. Я думаю, что я много плакала. И иногда я был немного в депрессии.

Чрезвычайно стрессовые события произошли в церкви. Я перестал принимать клиентов по родам тоже, потому что мои эмоции и энергия были так поглощены детьми и моими собственными потребностями, что я не могла брать на себя обязательства перед другими.

Несмотря на стресс, я так благодарна и рада, что у меня была эти испытания в моей жизни. Бог дисциплинировал меня, как спортсмен сам себя дисциплинирует. Он хотел сделать меня сильнее и чище. Его Слово стало для меня очень реальным. Я читал Его и часто плакала. Я ходила на собрании и плакала во время пения, потому что я жила правдой этиз слов, которые мы пели о Боге. «Изнемогает плоть моя и сердце мое: Бог твердыня сердца моего и часть моя вовек. » (Пс. 72:26). Мое сердце и моя плоть изнемогали. Они были истощены и гибли. И Бог был там, Он стал моей силой и моей твердыня.

Я много грешила, я много не успела; я была хорошей мамой, я была плохой мамой. Но в целом для меня это было хорошее упражнение – испытании, которые больно терпеть, но которые усиливают.

Нам сказали, что нам нужно переехать. Мы искали новую квартиру. Мы переехали.

Наша церковь нас поддерживали, готовили еду, смотрели за детьми, помогали нам переехать.

Примерно за неделю до срока мы отправили нашего племянника жить с его мамой в реабилитационнем центре, и Виталий больше был дома. Весна пришла!

Рождение: это была еще одна стрессовая, но хорошая вещь. Мы родились дома с акушеркой первых двух родов. Но на этот раз мы хотели рожать соло. Я всегда была готова пригласить акушерку, но, в конце концов, для меня всегда было лучше родить сами. Но, ответственность есть ответственность.

И особенно потому, что это был первый раз, когда мы сделали этот выбор (рожать сами), это было довольно напряженно. Я должна был выбрать, какой уровень пренатального наблюдения я хотела. Мне была нелегко делать этот выбор. (Но я рада, что сделала это.)

И я тоже хотела, чтобы кто-то обратила внимание на эту беременность, потому что я чувствовала, что едва ли у меня была время подумать об этом со всем, что происходило. Мне действительно очень не хватало акушерки, чтобы ездить на дородовый осмотр, чтобы она сидела цели час и говорила со мной об этой беременности, слушала то, что я переживала, помогала мне сосредоточиться на ребенке и т. д.

Это было также очень напряженно, потому что я боялась говорить об этом и радоваться об этой рождению. Никто не был рад за меня, за то, что хотела рожать без акушерки. И я тоже была именно такая недавно! Но сейчас? … Если кто-то рассказывает мне о том, что они планируют рожать соло, я радуюсь с ними. Им нужна эта поддержка. (И сейчас на ФБ, есть группа поддержки для этого 🙂 )

Под конец я начала говорить людям, которые спрашивали о наших планах по рождению, но сначала я говорила, что они должны просто радоваться за меня, когда они услышить мои планы, потому что я не могла больше справляться со стрессом. Они с любовью согласились. Я благодарна за этих друзей. Моя мама была очень хороша в этом, и это помогло мне тоже. Но все же большинство людей не знали.

Беременность и роды не были полностью без помощи. Я наняла «подруга» (акушерка) в Штатах, которому я могла позвонить или написать по электронной почте со своими вопросами, и мы делали это несколько раз. Она также была доступна во время родов. Она постоянно указывала мне на веру в Бога и помогала мне понять, действительно ли я ощущала проблему, или меня просто мучили нездоровые страхи.

Вот, как я представляла роды: у нас будет довольно короткое, романтическое рождение. Все будет мило и тихо. У меня будет свечи, музыка, запахи – все было готово. Это будет так особенно. …
Но ….

“{Сейчас мы все услышим очень громки, длинный смех. 😀 Помните, что когда мы молимся о вере, вероятно, что ответ будет трудным, сложным, трудным…. Но очень полезно.)

:)

Само рождение было самым болезненным рождением из трех, которые у меня были. Активная фаза длилась 14 часов. (Ранние фазы были около 17 часов до этого.) Ничто не помогло с болью от святок. Не ванна или душ, не позы, не массаж. Я была в темном месте мысленно. Я хотела эпидуральную анестезию, кесарево сечение, хотела умереть. (А это я, несгибаемая, абсолютно естественная дама!!!) Я представляла вновь и вновь, как добираться до роддома, чтоб получить одну или несколько таких вещей. … Я наверно нечего не сказала Виталию, просто об этом думала. Это было что-то. И как прекрасно, что я не могла найти способ! Я сейчас это все уже забыла– 

Примерно на полпути, я была очень смущена, поэтому мы позвонили нашей “подруге” в Штатах. Я объяснила, что я чувствовала так, как я в переходном фазе, иногда потуги, но … что происходить? Она сказала, что женщины могут показаться переходными, но не быть; она сказала, что мне нужно различить в себе, если я просто растерялся, или действительно чувствую проблему. И я сразу поняла, что проблем не было, я просто растерялся.

Вернемся к рождению (как будто мы можем оставить это, ха-ха): забудь тихое, мылое романтическое рождедния. Я кричала со сылою через все схватки. Тужалась около 3 часа. Было много силовых криков. Виталий рад, что никто не вызвал милицию (мы жили в большом жилом комплексе).

(фото: Виталий вешает Андря, весящий в одноразовой пеленке, конечно, и с весами для рыбалки, конечно.)

Мы не знали, была ли беременной с мальчиком или девочкой. Виталий был уверен, что у нас мальчик. Это была его вера между ним и Богом. Я не имела никакая представления. Когда он вышел, это было, конечно, замечательно. Это стоила больше чем все, что пережила. Я родила на четвереньках, и Виталий ловил его и держал. После того, как его тело вышло, меконий выплеснулся на одноразовую пеленку. Но он плакал, розовый, и дышал.

Мой постоянный страх перед этим рождением был дистоция плечиков: это когда голова выхоит, плечи застрялят, и ребенок не может выйти. Как обычно, Бог избавлял меня от всех моих родовых страхов. Его тело соскользнуло прямо с его головы.

Виталий дал мне его через мои ноги, и я положила его на кровать и начала втерать его руками – я просто сделала это естественно, не думая, потому что он был покрыт первородной смазкой. Я разговаривала радостно и сразу заметила, что у нас есть мальчик! Мы быстро вызвали девушек – они все это время играли в зале.

Одна вещь о естественном рождении – самое большое чувство екстаза (из за гормонов) произходить сразу после рождения. Я просто люблю это чувство. Я чувствовала себя так хорошо, так счастлива, так вознаграждена. Это длился неделями.

Виталий, бедняга, у него была вся тяжелая работа после рождения. Но он сделал это так нежно, так тщательно. Он несколько раз ходил в аптеку. Он купил много одноразовых пеленок и он скреплял их вместе, чтобы покрыть матрасы… (Это мужчина 😉 )

Он принес мне фрукты, цветы, сок, сделал несколько миллиардов фотографий, накормил нас всех в течение нескольких дней, и в целом был потрясающим. И каждый час он приходил ко мне, трогал меня и говорил: «ты удивительный – ты это сделала!»

После этого рождения, в отличие от первых двух, я не была сразу готова иметь еще одного ребенка. Ох, боль…. Хотя сейчас, 5 недель после родов, я так наслаждаюсь ребенком– прекрасная мягкость и приятное ощущение новорожденного. … ну, конечно, я могла бы сделать это все занова. Это того и стоит.

Andre’s birth day: I become a kook

So I’m going to explain why I became a kook, because it is actually a very scientific process, influenced by a doctor and the fact that I believe God created and designed the world as we see it working.

{My apologies to other unassisted birthers for the term kook– I know you’re really in your right minds, perhaps more than others. Please allow me this freedom….}

Andre was my first (of two) unassisted births. For many years, I never even knew that birthing unassisted was in realm of imagination. Then for years, I thought people who did this were complete kook-heads. And then I became one of those kooks.

I believed in midwifery. I have read about home birth since I was about 15 years old, so the idea of giving birth in a hospital was/is actually frightening.

When I started studying midwifery, I had an awesome school. Because the director believed in birthing women and the process of birth as it was designed. Sure, things can go wrong, and that is one of the main purposes of the midwife, to be able to spot and monitor the situation and act appropriately.

But the birth– it’s all done by the mom.

OK, so for my schooling, we were required to read Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley, an MD in New Zealand who specializes in obstetrics and family planning.

The book is a tome of science all about birth and medical practices surrounding it.

In this book, there are three pages that describe the hormones of birth. I, of course, read this as a Christian who believes God made things this way. These three pages described in intricate detail the hormones that start, conduct, and finish labor, the hormones that create bonds, the hormones that allow us to breastfeed and feel good– I was amazed.

They are all so incredibly and intricately designed.

I never before understood hormonal processes before studying this. Like puberty beginning in a girl or boy. Those are hormonal processes. Like digesting your food– a hormonal process. We pretty much have to stay out of the way so the process can occur in peace and safety. (Selah [pause and ponder, or crescendo] that last sentence: We pretty much have to stay out of the way so the process can occur in peace and safety.)

Dr. Buckley describes the normal practices occurring at birth in a medical environment that actually make the birth less safe. It’s strange, but true.

After reading those three pages, pieces suddenly flew together in my understanding, and I became an official member of the Kook-Head Club. One of those really off-the-wall, dangerous, bizarre people who birth unassisted.

Well, at that point, I was interested in birthing unassisted. But … Vitaliy.

{And I will insert that I don’t have any physical issues that would preclude a home birth.}

I think it’s pretty important that partners at least feel the environment is safe during birth, though they might not agree on the actual place. I guess we usually defer to the woman, for obvious reasons, but I think the dad ought to feel that the birth environment is safe for his wife and child, too, even if it’s not the decor he would’ve picked.

So, following the advice I’d read somewhere, probably a marriage book, as we were laying in bed one night during my pregnancy with Andre, I said, “Maybe we should birth this baby by ourselves,” or something like that. And Vitaliy said, “no way” or something like that. And I dropped it. He wasn’t a Kook-Head just yet.

About a week later, maybe we were again laying in bed, he said something like, “I think we should birth ourselves.”

And there you go.

For Andre’s pregnancy and birth, we had a “friend” we called once or twice during pregnancy, once during the birth– it was a very long birth and my most painful– maybe he was posterior? But I don’t really remember the pain now– hormones are lovely that way.

What I remember is the ecstasy after he came out. I was quite “high” with happiness, for days. It was amazing.

{Now, for any women in the childbearing years reading this: You will never have this birth or experience. You will have your own, unique experience that will be a gift to you from God, to bless you and form you into His Son’s image. Your husband will love you in details probably different from how my husband loves me, but he will love you and your child.}

For days afterwards, Vitaliy would come to me and say, “wow, you did it, honey.” And after the birth, he went and bought flowers and the Georgian food we love.

Andre’s birth story is here.

My page about the pros and cons of unassisted birth is here.

Actually, if we were to have another baby, I would consider having a midwife-type person there. Not to make me feel safe, but someone to nurture me. But I don’t know. It’s a decision I probably will never have to make.

Women & the church

I thought I’d give this a rip-roaring, controversial, juicy, hot-button name, because hey, then more people will click and read, right?

OK, so I have some opinions about “women and the church,” but they’re much less formed and definite than they should be, considering everything I’ve read about this topic.

This is not going to be about theology, this is just about how women in my church have been towards me. Because I think it’s wonderful! And the older I get, the more I value it.

Writing this post occurred to me last week, as I yakked for three hours with an “older woman” from my church. We just talked and talked about life, about how our lives have led us, things we wonder about our future, about decisions. She’s about a decade ahead of me and I picked her brain about a lot of topics.

I want to praise the wonderful older women of my church. Most of these relationships formed through my mom, really, so this is something I’d like to pass on to my girls, too.

My mom often took me out with her and her friends to eat deserts and stuff after church, we had various parties together, etc. I’m sure I probably said and did a lot of awkward, teenagery things. but they just accepted me and let their conversations and lives flow all around and over me.

For years.

For years, they’ve all yakked and been “women in the church,” weaving in and out of my life for so long. Their daughters were my schoolmates. They lived life around and through the church, were involved in church activities, and spent a lot of time around our school — in and out it all flowed for years.

We, the kids, grew up, and their lives keep flowing on, we keep having meals together thanks to my mom. I watch them pass through the many stages and events of life: kids’ graduating, grandkids– or not, disappointments and joys, illnesses and healings, aging, spouse illnesses, career changes or sameness…

And I’ve added a few more “older women” myself. I’ve actually prayed to find them. Just one-on-one. We meet, I ask about finishing home schooling, being in this or that stage of life, talk about my struggles. And they nurture me along.

One “older woman” writes me often, prays for me, enters into my mid-life angst with grace and empathy.

These are ladies 20-30 years older than me. And somehow, though they don’t often didactically teach me to love my husband and kids, they do teach me this by loving their own husbands and children, loving me, by centering their lives around the body of Christ, by living faithful lives.

And their destinies are so varied. I could go on and on about how different their lives are. Yet they all love and follow God. And I’ve been privileged to be woven into their fellowship.

It pretty much never occurs to me to leave my husband or run away from my kids or to shirk my responsibilities. I don’t enjoy a lot of things, yet sinful choices don’t attract me. And I think a lot of it goes to these ladies’ love and faithfulness over the years, to their own families and to God.

I will be forever grateful for this. That they included Weird, Teen Me into their fellowship, that they ‘adult talked’ around us and included us in appropriate ways to their lives.

I’m grateful for the ladies from my church that intentionally make time to be with me, though they are considerably few. It’s good–I couldn’t handle more. And other younger women need those other older women. But for “women and the church,” my church has “given” me what I need. And I’m so thankful.

I’m committed to passing it on any way I can.

Motherhood: the feelings of value struggle

A friend asked me to post my FB comments here, so I’ll clean them up a little and do that. We were discussing feelings of un-appreciation and de-value as SAHMs, even when our husbands are incredible and incredibly supportive. Here are my thoughts:

First, I want to say that it’s good to bring this topic up, because it is something we almost universally struggle with, so we need a vocabulary and a way to think about this. Because it is often a cyclical struggle–it’s not something we figure out once, then everything is OK. It’s more like, we have to figure out patterns for handling well these recurring thoughts and feelings. (Because I think that in “retirement” age, for example, we’ll feel the same way.)

But also, knowing the truth logically [that what I’m doing is valuable and worthy], and feeling that it’s actually true, are often different things. To illustrate, I remember, about 8 years ago, reading Psalm 23– the green pastures, quiet waters, overflowing cup … and I thought, wow, how romantic it all sounds. But what a joke? I don’t feel like any of that is true! My cup is empty! I’m in the desert emotionally, for Pete’s sake…..

And I had to make a choice at that moment to press God– or more likely He was pressing me, you know. And I prayed and said how I didn’t feel it was true, but it must be true if Your Word says, so will You please help me see and feel that it is true? 

The answer didn’t come in any certain way. It just sort of crept in. But it was not the answer like how we’d want it to be– it was not a constant emotional high and feeling uber pumped about all my mundane responsibilities. 

I don’t even know how to explain it because I still struggle with “what is the value” of what I’m doing, however, I also more see the value of it. My cup does feel full, and I’ve let go of many of the expectations that were robbing me– like that I had to clean like FlyLady and home school like Charlotte Mason (OK, I love CM, but I fall short in so many ways), I eventually farmed out the English class, and I’m so glad….

But I realized all my struggles, in the long run, were good for me–they were green pastures making me strong and healthy, able to serve others in God’s way– not in the supermom way I imagined feeling fulfilled.

But anyway, I just wanted to reiterate that we need to be thinking about this topic because it plagues a lot of us, and we need to allow the Holy Spirit to establish us in peace in our “right mind”

I’ve been pondering lately, how I can understand the feminists, though I don’t agree with many of their conclusions. There are a lot of very real factors here: The Industrial Revolution moved money-earning out of the home. The only way I “earn money” as a sahm is by what I don’t spend– by how economically I can home school, buy groceries and prep food. … The Industrial Revolution also changed work so it can be done faster, and food is much faster and easier to make than it used to be. 

And most of the work a SAHM mom does, in this, the wealthiest nation on earth, is historically and currently done by servants. So we logically know that all our work is valued in the Lord, however in society and ingrained in us, it is not.

Here are realizations that have helped me: 
1. The “enjoy the moment” movement— Puhleeze, just kill me now. Rather: Enjoy the memories–YES! I gave up a calling to stay home with my kids. It hurts like nothing else has ever hurt me and for a very long time; I have actually only recently been able to shed my pain and disappointment over that. But today, 13 years into this deal, I’m glad I made that choice. 
2. I can make the choice to stay home, home school, whatever, and I can do it terribly. Just making “the right choice” (for me) doesn’t make the right end. Arthur Pink, in his chapter, “The Guidance of God” (in his book The Attributes of God) talks about how, after making the choice, we have to keep asking God to help us, so that we live out the choice rightly, according to His ways.

3. I’ve shucked a lot of my expectations of myself. I’ve stopped expecting myself to make three meals a day. I’ve stopped expecting myself to LOVE all my responsibilities (I used to make myself feel so guilty that I couldn’t make myself love it), and my home school is … what it is. 
4. My husband delegates to our kids. And that has helped me with cooking and laundry and cleaning everything. I hate delegating. So, letting him be in charge of some things basically means he delegates and I am very thankful. Our kids would know almost nothing and I would be frazzled to death if I hadn’t relinquished things. 
5. I try to do what I love. I love reading aloud to my kids, even just a little a day. I love books, so I fill our house with them and our kids learn a lot from them. We try to travel on the cheap, partly because V loves the water, and I love “educational” travel. We love missions, we love giving to missions and being involved in discipleship and evangelism. I’m just saying those examples because as our kids get older, we can do more, and our years together are shorter.

 6. I have friends who work “outside the home” and some also struggle with these things. So simply adding a job doesn’t get at the heart of what’s really lacking or wrong.

Maybe it’s the quality of our relationships that we’re really feeling the lack of and it comes out as this sahm value struggle, maybe not, I don’t know. 

Those are ways this has worked out in my own mix of life. Other people have different circumstances and personalities and it will work out for them in very different ways. But one thing I’m realizing, too, is that this struggle for value is probably a human struggle. It’s not a sahm struggle.

Also, I have learned to value the life and example of Christ– that He didn’t come to be a political leader or a prince or a famous inventor or take a place of value and influence. He served, washed feet, touched dirty people, ate with them, was hemmed in by them, He “escaped” only to pray. He had 12 close followers, all who didn’t understand the significance of who He was and what He was doing…. In short, He was a SAHM 😉

Here are some thoughts from this Parenting Teens with Love and Logic book, pp. 166-167: 
“Love and Logic stresses the importance of parents taking good care of themselves to set the model for their children…. Love and Logic parents need to put themselves first in a ‘centered in self” way that is not selfish but insists on a win-win relationship….. “I love you so much. First, I win, and then look how well it works out for you. When I’m happy, you’re happy, too.” Of course that grows to be reciprocal, and when our children are happy, we’re happy too.”

He’s more applying this to teenagers, treating them and ourselves with respect, etc. When you have young ages of kids, you need to think more how to do this, and there are time periods to just “survive” and enjoy the memory. 

But what are things that are actually under your control that could make you “feel” happier? And learning to value this as an indirect way you are taking care of your family. This is not talking about irresponsibility or laying around reading novels all day, but some ways I’ve taken care of myself, for example, are almost always having a topic I study. I love to study, so I try to keep some kind of study going– reading, etc. Sometimes it coincides with my life responsibilities, other times it doesn’t at all. 

Another thing that’s helped my happiness level is letting go my expectations. All the “good wife/mom/homeschool” books– letting them go, letting my image go, because it just shows me that Christ is not being my goal but my image/expectation is! And just lowering/raising my standard to be like Christ, who was peaceful and gentle and kind and full of hope, that it wasn’t all about dishes and neatness and checking off my “to do” boxes….

So there you go. May God rescue us all. He is the Savior.

Baptism & my children: going Ukrainian

One thing that only recently dawned on me is that, when I was choosing Ukraine in missions and marriage … well, whenever I imagined my children, I imagined them like me, American. I didn’t see coming that they would be so involved in and influenced by Ukrainian life and culture. They are, much more than other children who have two American parents.

So one way this has touched us is in the question of baptism. I am surprised how Vitaliy and I have never even discussed this, at all, ever, not before nor after we married.

I think I just understand, after 17 years in Ukraine, why Ukrainian churches do baptism like they do, so I don’t even really mind it being that way for my kids.

So, in Ukraine, no one is baptized until about 15 years of age, maybe a bit earlier, in some cases, but even 15 is young.

Considering the persecution they used to live under, I understand this. It was a very responsible choice. I am not familiar with Mennonite beliefs/practices, but it might be influenced by that, too, as they historically had a big influence in Ukraine, too.

Baptism here gives one the ability to 1. be a church member 2. take communion, 3. marry another believer.

But another thing is that they don’t really evangelize children, by that I mean, pressing children to pray a sinner’s prayer or things like that. They teach them the Bible, memorize verses, but they don’t press them to make a decision.

At 43, I’m OK not judging that. I haven’t pressed my own children, though, and that is probably a result of Ukrainian culture on me. And my own experience of having a child’s faith for many years, but not saving faith until around 12 years old.

I teach my kids the Bible, that they are a sinner, and Jesus is their Savior, not only from the punishment for their sin, but from the sin they want to do right now. I assume they will be saved, and I speak to them that way, and frame it also as a choice they need/will need to make. They want to believe in the gospel, and they do to the level each is able. It’s kind of hard to put all this into words.

But I wanted to write it out somewhere, because I was recently talking to someone in an international marriage, about how we have adopted the culture of my husband in this issue. And she’d never thought about how they were going to address that either.

midlife: not solving the tension, but living with it

So, after all this writing, reading, thinking, here’s what I’m realizing.

It’s a tension I can’t solve by making one choice or another. This has been frustrating me for a long time because I’ve been assuming that I could make some series of life choices that would be perfect.

Like, I could find some trail of choices that would make me perfectly fulfilled and not regretful of anything.

But what is dawning on me, is that it will never be that way, no matter what I choose. (Well, I mean I’m not even considering some options, like choosing to dump my family and “follow my heart.” I mean, poop, how elusive and confusing is my “heart”?)

I’m talking about choosing between valid, responsible choices. Like, should I start studying to be a midwife? Or should I invest myself more into understanding home education?

I’m between two mountains. On the one hand, my kids will all be gone in the next 7-14 years. So, do I want to invest myself more heartily into this “one go” I have with them?

The second mountain is that I’m 43. If I postpone midwifery for another 10 years, or indefinitely, then the chances of coming back to it and/or having a meaningful practice are shrinking proportionally.

Last week, I was leaning towards midwifery. This week I’m leaning towards my kids.

But here’s what I’ve realized, and what may actually be the release from this slow torture: That either choice will have imperfections. Regrets. Joys. Fulfillments and disappointments.

So, in one sense, it doesn’t matter what I choose. I can stop trying to find the perfect life fulfillment. It doesn’t exist.

I have a friend who has kids and a career, and it has a lot of agonies, worries, unfulfillments….

Jesus exists. And maybe where all this winding trail is going. He is more than enough for life fulfillment. Not a profession or career, or kids or whatever.

I think one benefit of this midlife exploration is that, whatever I choose to do with the rest of my life, shrinking as that time is, is that I will learn to value what I have now . That might be the whole purpose of this life exercise.

midlife: teenagers

Not everyone has teens in midlife, but most of us do.

I’ve been avoiding studying this, like, sheesh, I loved studying pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, that’s my thing….. But then I had to study non-punitive parenting, ages and stages, yada yada. And that was a huge transformation.

So now, for about a year, it’s been niggling me that things are changing again, and we have a teenager, and soon we’ll have more, and I need to get myself in a better place with understanding what’s going on and how I can parent well through this stage. Because it’s becoming …. hard.

So yesterday, at a used book store, I started this course of study with two books.

I also want to read Paul Tripp’s Age of Opportunity.

So I’ve started Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, and I’m learning things already. Imagine that.

my home schooling phases: Idealistic, frustrated, reluctant, thankful

Honest confession: I didn’t want to be around my kids all day long when they were little.

I say this because I heard veteran home school moms talk about one main reason they home schooled being that they just enjoyed being around their kids so much, and it would be too sad to send them away to school each day.

So now, at 43 (am I 43? not 42? …. I never could understand why my dad had to count his age up from his birth year…. yikes), I’m ready to confess that I didn’t enjoy my kids so much when they were young. I eventually learned to enjoy them (by studying a lot about developmental ages/stages, getting lots of training ideas, getting out of a punitive mindset, I’m so thankful to God for that transformation). I still don’t enjoy everything, to be honest. But I enjoy a lot. And I enjoy it a lot more than I did.

I didn’t come into home schooling as it being something radical or different to do. That all happened in the 70s and 80s in the States.

It was already an ideal for me. Which might have contributed to other issues/expectations I struggled with.

Because I couldn’t do my ideals. There were moments of it though. (Well, now that I look back on it, it was fairly ideal, though it didn’t seem like it at the time.) Like the year the girls and I would go to the mall and sit at a huge table, and I would read aloud to them forever while they worked on crafts. That was fun, looking back upon it.

Insert: I don’t like the phrase “enjoy the moment” applied to everything in life. There are plenty of worthy moments I don’t enjoy. I enjoy the memory. Or I enjoy the sense of accomplishment. But in the moment, I could just ditch it all if I feel compelled that I must also enjoy myself.

I enjoy a lot of things in retrospect 😀

I “enjoy” that I home schooled, looking back, even in the months I wasn’t having the time of my life by a long shot. For example, doing Jewish holidays felt kinda frustrating and underwhelming and unappreciated. But looking back, I love the memories and the fact that we did those things.

So I’m not going to analyze this much further, just want to say that I’ve been through coming into home schooling as an ideal, been frustrated–by my unpreparedness, lack of skills, lack of follow-through, by the fact that my children couldn’t understand conforming to and loving that ideal as much as I did ….

So I struggled also with resenting having to do it sometimes. I didn’t have many options. A couple things helped me through that: I DID have options. We could have spent crazy money (for us) or gone into debt to send our kids to the Christian school. We could’ve sent our kids to Ukrainian school, but neither of us wanted to *do that* to our kids…. So, if I were honest, it was a free choice I was making among options.

I read a book about home schoolers (by a non-home-schooler researcher) and she gave me language for my experience. She says there are primary and secondary home schoolers. Primary means they home school by conviction or ideal. Even though these mothers are often overwhelmed and burned out, they will home school. Secondary home schoolers are those who choose home school because they can’t get the option they wanted first. So home school is their second-best option. These are more open to trying other mixes and styles.

You know, I WANTED to be a primary home schooler. I love crusading, and I want to have that crusading spirit about home schooling. Really. It was very hard for me to accept that I’m an uncomfortable mix of the two.

It helped me a lot when I could finally break down my ideals and start “farming out” some of the teaching aspects. They watch a math video. One of the greatest reliefs recently was signing the girls up for 7th grade online English with a *real teacher* who gives assignments, evaluates their work, and gives feedback.

I went through a period (around their fifth/six grades) when I asked God to please give me a conviction about home schooling. There are home school moms who can just wax on and on so sweetly about how wonderful home school is and surely most if not all should do it! It’s superior, right? But I have tasted so much of the drawbacks, I couldn’t bring myself to speak that boldly! But I WANTED to.

God answered me by showing me through a series of events when I tried enrolling the girls in school that He wanted me to home school. That it was His providential will that I keep them home (though farming out some of the actual subject teaching is really nice).

OK, so here’s what I want to say: My kids are 13, 12, 6 and 4. Seventh, first, and pre-k. And what I can say is that now, I am so happy and thankful that we home school!!! in our own un-ideal way. We home school. And I like being together now.

NOW, when I’m half-way through my firsts, I can’t stand the thought of sending my kids away to school all day. I would miss them terribly.

I’m thankful for the low-stress style of our home school. The kids read a lot and have “free” time for other activities, spontaneity and travel. They have time to teach English as a Second Language to younger students, they do crafts, help with church activities, babysit….

Anyway, so, I’m thankful. This is somehow part of my mid-life process of agreeing with my life.

And maybe now I can be a crusader about how great home schooling is???

mid-life: determining the will of God … more maturely ?

I would like to hope I can determine the will of God with some differences from 20 years ago. There is a life lesson that is influencing my thinking right now, and I want to explain it.

I’ve let my kids ask over and over for things they want. For a few reasons. One, it’s human tendency to give a negative answer first. So I let them keep asking because maybe I ought to change my mind. (When I’ve had a chance to think it over, and the answer is sure, I might say, “Please stop asking” or something like that, so they know asking is futile.) Second, God encourages us to ask repeatedly. He listens to it. So I am trying to allow that quality in my life, too.

So, kids and asking. It’s a thing. You know how we say “no,” and our kids ask “why?” … “why?” … “why?” even though I’ve explained why …

Vitaliy said the most striking thing one time. He said: You know, they are not asking Why because they want to understand your will. they are asking Why in order to change your will.

I thought about that a lot. And I started thinking, so why am I saying No? What is my “will” for my child that would cause me to say No? And sometimes I would explain this to my child, like, “I’m saying No because my will for you is that ….”

This was years ago, and at that time, I began thinking about when I ask Why? of God in order to change His will for me. And I began to think: what if I stopped trying to change God’s will for me, and rather began trying to understand why this is His will for me?

It opens up a huge world of thought, exploration, and lessons. If something really IS God’s will for me, then that is huge. Because God is very purposeful in having a will towards me. Every detail is by design. If I open myself up to accepting, agreeing with, and exploring why for the purpose of understanding God’s purpose, then the possibilities of growth and riches are pretty limitless.

OK, so yesterday–The Guidance of God chapter.

2. Ask God to empty your heart of any desire of your own. Otherwise, it is impossible to sincerely ask God what His will is, and impossible to correctly interpret His providences.

3. Again, don’t skip point two. This is essential. Ask God to empty our hearts of all personal preferences.

And I wrote:

I’m in points 2-3 right now, in a particular process I’m trying to decide. I feel preference-less, but not fully because I’m scared of the feeling of not having a preference, so I’m pausing here to accept it and adjust to that before I move on.

The author of this book frames it as doing your known duties first. So the way my thoughts turned yesterday: I began thinking about all the known duties I have and that I ought to examine how I am doing on those–think this through first before I add another activity to the mix.

And I am thinking about my Why– exploring trying to understand more fully why God gave me these particular duties in life so clearly, like fundraising and home schooling. And how I can mine them more for God’s purposes. To accept more fully the blessings and transformations He wants to bring about through these.

So, I’m feeling less preference and feeling more comfortable in that place right now.

mid-life: discerning the will of God

So, maybe this is not just mid-life, it’s all life long, which surprises me. I thought I was done trying to “figure out the will of God” when I got out of my early to mid twenties.

But hey, here I am. Choices keep coming– imagine that! They become, perhaps, less life-altering choices. I’ve already chosen where to go to college and what to major in (for all the good it does me now, ha ha), and who to marry. I’ve already chosen missionary work in Ukraine, though I’ve realized that that also could change (though I don’t see any moves of God in that direction, phew because I love many things about it).

But you know, life, choices keep coming. Things are always growing and changing.

A few months ago, I started reading Arthur Pink’s book The Attributes of God, just reading it devotionally, usually a chapter a morning– to start my prayer time with meditating on God. (I’m on chapter 21, so I obviously don’t read it every morning.)

God intersects things very intentionally, so I don’t think it’s happenstance that I come to the chapter about “The Guidance of God” just when I’m mulling over some perhaps-minor life changes.

Minor because, sheesh, when you have a husband in ministry and four kids ages 13 to 4 , there is not much wiggle-room for adding in a whole lot after that.

Sorry, this is a long post, if some of you just want to stop now. It’s OK.

But I wanted to give an overview of this chapter. It’s a good exercise for myself, to internalize the principles more, and maybe it will speak to some of you, too. This is simply my own brief scan of the chapter. You will get a lot more out of it if you read it for yourself here. My encapsulation follows:

Intro: We need clearer language around this subject. Rather than asking vague questions like “Is this according to God’s will?” or “Do I have the prompting of the Holy Spirit?”, we should rather ask ourselves, “Is this in harmony with God’s Word?” or “Does it sqauare with the rule God has given us to walk by?” or “Is it in accord with the example which Christ left us to follow?”

Next Pink says: In your life, focus on obeying what you already know is the will of God. There are many clear, indisputable instructions for us for life

Read the Bible in order to obey it, not merely to praise and laud it. The PRIMARY purpose for which God gave us the Bible is so that we will order our lives by it.

Over and over he says: walk in the revealed will of God. God will not be mocked by someone who wants to “know His will” in one point of life.

Also: Don’t be misled or mislead yourself. By this he means, there are plenty of clear duties given to us in the Bible. Actions like casting lots, open the Bible and putting your finger on a verse, a strong impression, finding freedom in prayer, dreams– Don’t seek direction from these things. And don’t believe them if they go contrary to what is expressed in the Bible.

So: Back to loving and obeying the Scriptures. And when we get to a particular life scenario, what to do?

Don’t hurry. Be ware of impatience, be “jealous of being deceived by appearances,” don’t move ahead of the light given for your path.

Seek daily to please God in the details. He will not then leave us in the dark. Don’t be a fool who leaves God out of life. “Our daily walk is to be ordered by God’s Word. In proportion as it is so we will be kept in His will and preserved from folly and sin.”

Practical obedience works in us spiritual instinct and we become better judges of what to do. “Where God’s commandments are loved by us, we can count upon Him to teach us good judgment.”

“Two main things: the absolute necessity of being controlled by the Word of God without, and having the heart within which is single to God’s glory and set upon pleasing Him–if we are to have the light of heaven on our earthly path.”

Going deeper: The help of the Holy Spirit. The two pitfalls of mysticism and fanaticism. “As the Spirit of holiness, His aim is to deepen the imprint of the restored image of God in the soul, to increase our happiness by making us more holy. Thus he leads to nothing but what is sanctifying.”

Then notes from Proverbs 3:5-6: TRUST 1. Full confidence in the Lord, childlike simplicity, our affectionate love’s reliance in believing dependence and expectation. LEAN NOT: “The highest act of human reason is to disown its sufficiency and bow before the wisdom of God.”

Interesting quotes on that point: “Yet many find it harder to repudiate their own wisdom than they do to abandon their own righteousness…. Philosophizing about our lot, or reasoning about our circumstances, is fatal to rest of soul and peace of heart.”

ACKNOWLEDGE HIM: ask God’s permission in everything, seek His guidance (admit our ignorance), seek God’s glory in everything. seek God’s blessing on everything.

“What is meant by “He shall direct thy paths?” It means, He will make clear to me the course of duty. God’s “will” always lies in the path of duty, and never runs counter to it.”

In a case of two duties and we need to discern God’s will:

  1. Don’t make haste. Ask God to slow you down and calm any feverishness of the flesh.
  2. Ask God to empty your heart of any desire of your own. Otherwise, it is impossible to sincerely ask God what His will is, and impossible to correctly interpret His providences.
  3. Again, don’t skip point two. This is essential. Ask God to empty our hearts of all personal preferences.
  4. Fast. “There is nothing meritorious [favor-gaining] in fasting, but it expresses humility of soul and earnestness of heart.”
  5. Next: “Humbly and sincerely acknowledge to God our ignorance, and request Him not to leave us to ourselves…. Plead before Him His own promises…”
  6. Be on the lookout for God’s answer. Mark attentively each movement of His providence … so the hand of God may often be discerned by a spiritual eye in what are trifling incidents to others.”
  7. Finally, we don’t just need to discover our duty, we need to ask God to help us all along the process of fulfilling our duty– to rightly do the thing He’s shown us to do. Otherwise, the thing will become a snare and curse to us.

So, if you’ve read this far, I’m in points 2-3 right now, in a particular process I’m trying to decide. I feel preference-less, but not fully because I’m scared of the feeling of not having a preference, so I’m pausing here to accept it and adjust to that before I move on.