I think I can honestly say that this past year has been the toughest one of my life. (Eric losing his job comes in close second but, by God's grace, it didn't last too long.) Miscarriage. Sickness. Moving. New baby. And all with a lot of littles under foot! Phew! The Lord has taught us a lot as He has stretched us. It hasn't been easy & it has often hurt but I praise Him for loving us enough to stretch us!
One thing I've learned is to do whatever it takes to have joy while going about our daily life. Joy is the key word there. It is something I've made an effort to pray about & work towards this year. I want the peace of the Spirit to illuminate joy in my life & my home. Without it, not only is God not glorified but we'll lose the hearts of our children. And we can't possible reach out the the lost world & tell them how wonderful it is to be redeemed if we lack joy!
There is no true joy apart from Christ.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2: 8-11)
So, to have joy I must be in fellowship with my Savior. I need to confess my sins daily. I need to study God's Word and make worship a priority. Here are some more things I'm learning as I do whatever it takes to have joy:
1. I need one-on-one time with my Savior! My morning time studying God's Word & praying is essential to having joy! I rarely miss it even when I'm sleepy- I'd rather nap later or go to bed early because it is the only part of my day with no littles. If I can't get up in the mornings, I do try to fit it in later in the day but it is harder to focus.
2. I need time with my hubby to have joy. I need his leadership, his perspective on things & his humor. He needs me too. DON'T FORGET THE HUBBY!
3. Let go of any hopes of having a rigid schedule. I could try to hold on to it & probably even succeed at enforcing it... but I would lose joy. Nope, it's not worth it. I've used MOTH for years but the idea of having set times for everything & everyone during our day makes my head spin right now! Instead, I've simplified our schedule down to more of a checklist with a few set times for things like waking/sleeping and meals.
4. Let the children work more independently with their lessons. They're more than capable and those that aren't need the character lesson of learning to do so unless they are too young. (And young ones don't need lessons which require that anyway!) The biggest change here has been science. I'm not trying to teach it anymore or at least I'm not having a set time each week where we all gather around & mama reads aloud. The older three are studying their science independently now. I do read their writings about what they are learning & we meet occasionally to review & do experiments together. (Eric has been great at helping with this!) Everyone continues to learn science via nature journals, memory work and all the books & DVDs that we have around our house.
5. Simplify lessons- focus on the basics each day. Work youngest to oldest each day. Loop around to whatever child and/or subject I do not get to the next day. To accomplish this, I made a checklist of what we aspire to get done each day by each child independently & with mama and what hopefully gets done weekly.
6. Less is more. Except for children & books. ;) The more people that fill the house, the more I feel the need to simplify by having less stuff.
7. Focus on training the children's hearts as I work on my own. This is the priority- not a clean house or laundry, not lessons, not even a hot meal. Keep my expectations lower than the standards we are aiming at. Keep the youngest close to making training easier. Talk a lot. Pray together even more.
8. I need order in my life to have joy. Everything has a place & everything in its place. :) I might have learned to let go of a lot of the schedule but I still have one because without it nothing would get done! While I keep #7 in mind, I still work towards clean laundry (actually it is the folding that causes me to sink!), hot meals & an orderly home. Those things help me to feel at peace.
9. Sing. Laugh. Have FUN with my family! These days are precious & fleeting. I do not want to miss it!
10. It's loud here & there is a lot going on. Relish in it. Remember #9. Godliness is not always equal quietness or stillness.
11. I need to take care of my health to have joy. That means I need to eat well, drink lots of water & get enough sleep. Probably means I need a nap since little Miss Emily still wakes up during the night. That rest time means something else isn't getting done & I need to be okay with that.
12. Turn my heart & mouth to praise to my heavenly Father. Keep a record of it & share it with others. The children catch my attitude faster than anything I try to teach.