Preparing the Soil

April 16, 2014
by Janet
6 Comments

I’m a Slow Writer

Halfway to 1000 | www.preparingthesoil.com

Before I get started: If you are a skimmer of blog posts (like I often am), scroll on down to the bottom where you will get to hear me!

 

I’ll admit it. I am a slow writer. Very slow.

It takes me a long time to get started.

I do a lot of deleting.

I write and rewrite.

Then I wait.

Then I read it again and often delete the entire thing.

I write again. I edit again. I wait again.

And so on….ad nauseam.

Usually in the end, even if I ever do get to the point where I hit publish (and abut half the time I don’t get to this point), I don’t like it. It didn’t sound the way I wanted it to. I feel that it lacks emphasis where needed and over emphasizes something I wasn’t trying to say in the first place.

I am sure that with more practice and experience my writing will improve (both in content and in process). However, as a homeschooling mother of six getting ready for some major life changes, time is not something I envision myself having more of in the coming months.

And yet, my heart is so full. There are so many things that I want to share with other moms, things I want to talk through, truths I want to shout from the rooftops. I am also a verbal processor which means that when I try to explain something to others, it makes more sense to me. And so I don’t want to hold back my words, especially for something like a lack of time.

And so I am going to try something different: I am going to do an audio post. I’m nervous about it. Even though I have considered it for months, I have shied away from it for all sorts of reasons that are ridiculous and in the end, self-centered. One thing that God has been teaching me is that worrying about what others think of you is a twisted and severe form of self-centerdness. If I care more about what some may think and what they will say (either to me or behind my back) more than I care about encouraging and building others up, I have a real problem.

And so, I will put myself out there. And I trust the Lord that my words—always prayerfully coming from Him,—will fall on hearts that need them. May we always use the word of God to build up the family of God.

If you enjoy this audio post, I’d love to know (either by commenting on the post or by email). I’d also love to know if there are improvements I could make. There is no fancy intro and outtro, so don’t get your hopes up for a professional recording. I snuck these words in  between my run with Caleb and running again with Alaina (why can’t they get up at the same time??)  You should be thankful it’s not video (another option I considered briefly before resigning to the fact that you would get tired of seeing me in sweaty running clothes).  If this format is something that people enjoy, I am happy to keep doing it. Other than the writing of this part (which I am desperately trying to keep short), the audio only took me ten minutes. That’s the kind of time I do have. If things go well and this kind of post ministers to people, I will polish things up on the production side. I have the know-how, but let’s wait to see what you think first.

CLICK BELOW TO PLAY

 

(if you are reading in a blog reader and the audio doesn’t come up, click on over to the site). You can also download it here:

April 3, 2014
by Janet
4 Comments

All Things Work Together for Good

©janetphillips_march23_2014-54

I’m 37.

This thing called a birthday, a day that I don’t really like (and not because it means I am getting older), marks the passage of time. But, well, it’s just a day.

It’s a day that needs children to be fed, messes to be cleaned up, boo-boos to be kissed, and contrary to my seven-year-old’s expectations, a day in which school needs to be done.

“What? We have to do school on your birthday?”

Yes, it’s just a day.

And yet, I try to use this once-a-year memorial to think through the past. The past twelve months — and the past 37 years — have been full. Full of good things. Full of really good things. Full of hard things. Full of really hard things.

One lesson that God continually reminds me of, though, is that all things work together for good. Some days I wonder how I got to be where I am: a homeschooling mother of six kids, a wife of fifteen years, an expat living in Asia for ten years. All this good…came from so much hard.

I look at the way God has been weaving my story together. If I could take a strand of good in the present and trace it back these past 37 years, I imagine I would find variegated colors and hard on the other end. Pain and struggle and confusion and loneliness and brokenness and sin and discouragement and fear…woven beautifully in a way that is truly redemptive.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

And we KNOW (not hope, think, wish)
that GOD (not time, not people, not our own resolve)
causes ALL THINGS (not some things, not a few things, not just good things)
to work TOGETHER (it’s the mixture of the good, bad, and ugly)
for GOOD (not for harm, not for fear, not for worry)
to those who LOVE GOD (“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”)
and are called according to HIS PURPOSE (not our own dreams, desires, or ambitions).

It was Corrie ten Boom, I believe, who first likened life to a tapestry. We see the ugly underside where nothing makes sense. God sees the front and is purposefully and creatively creating a masterpiece. And one day, in eternity, we’ll see the other side and His purposes and beauty will shine ever so brightly.

I am so thankful for these 37 years and all that He has blessed me with and all that He has walked beside me in.

©janetphillips_november30_2013_web-32©janetphillips_november30_2013_web-145

©janetphillips_november30_2013_web-159©janetphillips_may14_2013_web-70

 Life is But a Weaving

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ‘til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him

— Corrie ten Boom

 

 

March 14, 2014
by Janet
1 Comment

Week Without Walls


We’re a bit spoiled.

You see, my husband works at a Christian international school and one of the perks of working there is free tuition for our children. However, feeling the call to homeschool our kids at this season, we asked permission for us to have the kids at home.  Over the last five years, the school has been so gracious and supportive of us. Not only do they allow us to homeschool (something that many schools do not allow for their staff), but also they let our kids participate if/when they want. That means that they get to enjoy PE, art, music, and other special events such as field trips, class activities, and school-wide events.

One of the events that we choose to participate in is the annual WEEK WITHOUT WALLS. This is a week set aside for staff and students to move beyond the borders of our school and reach out to our community neighbors. I love that our kids have the chance to be part of various service projects. Over the years all of us have had the chance to be a part of some really great activities. As expats working in an American school, it is easy to just slip into a life with blinders on, forgetting that just beyond our neighborhoods are people in need of the Light. So, for one week, staff and students get to be the Hands and Feet to a dark world.

I took Bethany on the motorbike to visit the project where Alaina and Caleb were working. They were part of a group who was painting a local school. It was fun to watch them working hard and learning the blessing of serving others.

Enjoy a glimpse of a week without walls.

 I love these next two pictures. The day before, Caleb came home and asked me if he could give his (beloved) goalie gloves to one of the kids at the school. I was so happy to see this boy when I arrived.

We also took a peek into one of the classrooms. There were some paper bead necklaces hanging on the wall. Beppy said, “Oh! They’re sooooo beautiful!”

We also saw a peek of one of the students painting


After we finished visiting at the school, Beppy and I spent some time driving around the kampung (village). It was fun to see the kids as they headed home from school and my still-limited Indonesian allowed us a few sweet conversations with the village kids.

  I wish the walls came down more often.

February 17, 2014
by Janet
3 Comments

Coup de Main

My kids are into sword fighting these days. I blame it on a recent obsession with Stars Wars.

Sticks of bamboo make quick swords and they battle it out on the street. Girls, boys, little ones, it doesn’t matter. It’s fun to wield the weapon.

I smile as I watch them play, thankful for the gift of sunshine, imagination, and siblings who love each other.

From my place on the porch I can’t help but think, “I hope they learn to fight with real swords.”

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

That sword we have? Not only is it our first line of defensive, it’s also our one offensive weapon. It’s all we’ve got.

“Take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-17

It’s not that the other things — the defensive weapons — aren’t important. They are. They protect our bodies: our heart, our mind, our feet. But as in any competition, a strong defense doesn’t mean you win. At best, it’s a draw. If you want to win, you have to fight.

“The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Oh kids. My precious kids. I love you. I willingly choose to sacrifice many things for you. I give my time and energy to you in order to prepare the soil of your hearts. I set other dreams aside for a later chapter in my life so I can fully live out this dream now. I miss out on friendships, experiences, opportunities, and small pleasures so that I can tend to these six gardens: pulling weeds, throwing out stones, and breaking up the fallow ground. Because the seed that comes your way? That is the Word. And when it falls into your hearts I want you to be ready to receive it. The difference among the four soils wasn’t went into it, but rather, the condition the soil was in.

And so I work diligently, sometimes joyfully, always prayerfully, chucking stones here and chopping down thorns bushes there. When that Word hits your soul and soil, I want you to be ready.

Do you know why? Because when that seed takes root and grows unhindered, it isn’t just growing something good to look at, something to boast about. It’s growing your weapon.

Life is hard, little ones. I do my best to shield you from most of that pain now. Your little plants are small and I won’t throw you into the storm before you are ready. Your roots are young and your leaves fragile. No matter how much people say we should expose you to the “real world”, a gardner knows he must protect his plants.

I have to be honest, though. Storms will come. Life is hard. It’s full of pain and sorrow and hurts so deep you feel like you can’t breathe.

“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

One day that pain will be be gone. Dealt with. Over.

But while on this earth? As long as your years in those precious blond-headed bodies remain, it’s going to be hard.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

And when the hard times come, you have to be ready to grab that weapon your daddy and I have been helping you grow. You have to grab it and fight. Wield that thing. Slash through the lies. Attack the half-truths.

What you need most in life is a Coup de main: a kill by a single, smooth, quick thrust or cut.

 When you feel alone and sad, you need a coup de main: 

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

When you worry about money and how the long list of expenses will be paid, you need a coup de main: 

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

When you wonder what you have done wrong to have so much hurt, you need a coup de main: 

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 1:6

When you feel discouraged that all your hard work is amounting to nothing, you need a coup de main: 

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9

When you wonder if God made a mistake in giving you your personality,you need a coup de main: 

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14

When you fear no one sees how hard you work to bless others in the only ways you know how, you need a coup de main: 

“For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” Hebrews 6:10

When you get frustrated that you can’t be the person you want to be no matter how hard you try, you need a coup de main: 

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” Romans 7:19

When you question whether God can ever forgive you, you need a coup de main: 

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

When you fear that that you wasted too many years focusing on yourself, your desires, and your hurts, you need a coup de main: 

“Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you.” Joel 2:25

When the weight of all the hurt and pain and neglect threaten to overwhelm you, you need a coup de main: 

“And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Oh little ones. I love you. I love you with a love so deep that words have yet to be created that could express this raw and fierce emotion. Perhaps that is why Christ demonstrates (present tense) His love for us. When love is this deep, words just aren’t enough.

And because I love you so, I want to teach you to fight. I want to teach you to pick up those swords and do fierce battle. I want you to be able to cut through the lies, the discouragement, the self-pity, the worry, the fear, the disappointment, the sin, the betrayal, the despair, and the lack of trust. Attack with the weapon you hold in your hands: the living and powerful Word of God.

It’s not just a book full of nice ideas and pithy sentiments. It’s a weapon. And like any weapon, you have to learn to use it. Learning comes by doing. Instructional guides, YouTube videos, and the stories of others who have used a weapon might be beneficial at times. But at some point, you’ve just got to get out there. You’ve got to take that sword, tuck your fear into a pocket, and start your advance.

You’re little now, but your fighting days aren’t too far off. I’ll keep tending that soil and we’ll keep practicing for battle. Because one day, probably not long from now, you’ll be standing there minding your own business when the enemy will issue a challenge.

Our job as parents is to help you be ready to answer.

Coup de main.

 

February 11, 2014
by Janet
4 Comments

A Full Life

Lately, I’ve had a few people ask me how I am. I’m not always sure if they want to really know the answer or if they are just being polite. Nonetheless, my response is usually simple and along the lines of, “Life is full.”

  • It’s full of dirty diapers.
  • It’s full of meals to be made.
  • It’s full of dishes to be washed.
  • It’s full of squabbles to resolve.
  • It’s full of math to teach.
  • It’s full of reading to listen to.
  • It’s full of boo-boos to kiss.
  • It’s full of emails to write.
  • It’s full of hearts to be treasured.

Yes, life is full. There isn’t much wiggle room in our days. My to-do list is never done and my cup of tea is usually cold before I have a chance to finish it. There is no getting around the fact that with six little ones, there isn’t much in the way of leisure time. There is no stretching out in the afternoon for a rest. There are no leisurely cups of coffee.  I sneak in moments here and there, but the reality is that life is full. Busting at the seams.

Some days are what I call yellow bus days (the days when I wish a yellow bus would pick the kids up in the morning and take them far, far away). I feel overwhelmed and under-prepared. But other days — coming all the more frequently — a different kind of overwhelm takes over. Overwhelmed with love and gratitude that this is my life. My full life.

Recent examples include…

  • A seven year old boy who took the initiative to make baked oatmeal for the family. Other than finding the recipe and lighting the oven, he did it all by himself.
  • A nine year old boy who wanted to make himself a grilled cheese sandwich and as he was walking towards the kitchen he stopped and asked, “Is there anyone else who would like one?”
  • A two year old girl who took my hands in her face, turned my cheek, and planted a wet kiss. Then she hugged me and said, “Mommy, I love you soooooooo much!”
  • A 10 month old who sees me, giggles, and crawls just as fast as he can to get to me.
  • An 11 year old girl who spent months waiting and waiting to find book number 19 in the Nancy Drew series (she didn’t want to read them out of order). Upon finding it she said, “Oh wait, I’ve already read this.”
  • I came downstairs and saw the kids cleaning up a broken jar of jelly. There was no leaving it for mom to take care of or any blame placing. They were working together.
  • My sweet Levi said, “I like this book [about Pompeii] so much better than those made-up stories.” (This non-fiction loving mama was swooning :)
  • A loving and sensitive daughter who wrote a verse on the whiteboard. It was exactly what I needed.
  • A two year old with big tears rolling down her cheeks as she said, “I just want my friend.” (Her five-year-old sister had just left to take a walk).
  • A baby dressed and ready for the day…because his big brother just wanted to help out.

This full life keeps me busy. And this busy life keeps my heart full.

February 7, 2014
by Janet
2 Comments

Ten Words

I overwhelm easily.

If there is a big mess in the kitchen, I avoid it.

If I have a long to-do list, Facebook lures me in.

If I have a project to do, I read another book with my two-year old.

Getting started (or getting started again) is hard.

A few years ago, I came up with a way to overcome the kitchen-avoidance issue. I call it “10 Things.” The gist of it is this: I go into the kitchen and I find ten things to do. This could be putting things away, throwing garbage in the bin, or putting away clean dishes. Just ten things. I promise myself that after those ten things, I can be done.

What I have learned is that getting started is the hardest part. Almost every time, once my ten things are done (usually only taking a few minutes), I realize that since the hard part of getting started is over, it’s easy to continue. So I just keep going. Little by little. Step by step. That’s the way most great things get done.

Just ten things. And then let the ball roll.

Which brings me to my title: Ten Words. Maybe the cure for blogging overwhelm is to just type the first ten words.

And then, as you can plainly see, the rest keep coming.

You see, I love this little blog. I have blogged since 2006 and while my words and spaces have taken different shapes and sizes, putting heart words out into a public space is something I love. When 99.9% of my thoughts stay in my head, my introverted brain finds relief when that other .1% finds a place to fall.

But when life gets busy (which is almost always), blogging gets set aside. And then like the mess in the kitchen, the thoughts and memories and words I want to share start to pile up. And I get overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start. Add in my still-current struggle with knowing what place my words should have, and I close the WordPress editing window just as soon as I open it.

So what draws me back? Why don’t I just let it go? Well, because words are powerful. Lives are powerful. Each and every day I am touched and moved by books and blogs whose authors have sought to craft words in such a way that God is honored, I am challenged, and my heart is spurred to action.

I was talking with someone recently who said something along the lines of, “Just because someone has something to say does not mean that God wants them to say it.” True enough. But we can’t hold back all the words.

“One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4

That’s what I want this space to be. I want it to be a place where I can praise God’s works to others and declare His mighty acts. I want to show gratitude for life’s simple gifts that often come in the way of sweet kids, yummy food, and a creative spirit. I want to be bold in declaring God’s goodness in my life in spite of the difficult paths He often asks us to walk. I want to share my words and stories (and really cute kids) so that other women may know that they are not alone. This mothering road can be long and lonely and I want others to be comforted in knowing that there are other women choosing to see beauty in the mundane, gratitude in the messy, and hope in the chaos.

I’m just one woman. But I am one woman who refuses to let my role as a mother and a keeper of home and hearts be seen as anything other than a precious, precious gift.

So there are my ten words (plus some). Now maybe I can keep this ball rolling.

January 13, 2014
by Janet
3 Comments

The Best Triangle

I’m headed out for a few days with my sweet Caleb. We’re going to Singapore for a long awaited, much needed full psycho-educational assessment. We’re doing all we know how to help Caleb be all that God created him to be. I love this kid.

This is a repost of something I wrote back in December 2010. This is where we are..still loving our triangle boy!

THE BEST TRIANGLE
(originally published December 2010)

 

I’ve learned something about myself in the last few years:

I need to process out loud.

I freely admit that my mind never stops going — I am always thinking, dreaming, planning, praying, hoping, wishing, and more. I wish I had the magical male ability to just “turn it off.”  I don’t…my mind is always spinning.

However, I have come to realize that my best thinking and processing comes when I do it out loud.  I often find when I am talking to someone that words just spill out and I think, “Wow, that is exactly how I feel.  I didn’t really even know it before now!”  Or, “Finally…words that express what I have been thinking.”  I often find that when I am trying to explain something — out loud — to someone, that it makes much more sense than it does rolling around in my noggin.  For some reason, my truest thoughts and feeling come out when I am talking. I WISH I could process just as well within the confines of my own mind, but I can’t. My lightbulb moments happen as the words flow out of my mouth.

I had one of these moments the other day as I sat chatting with a new friend.  We were talking about things like marriage, kids, parenting, pride, and more. We got onto the topic of loving and believing in our kids, and something that I am very passionate about finally found words.

I said something like this:

“As a parent, we often have dreams for our kids.  We have things we would like them to be, people we want them to become, goals we hope to see them realize.  But kids don’t always come out the way we had planned.  But that is okay, they come out JUST as God created them to be.  Our job as parents is NOT to make them fit the mold we have designed for them, but rather help them be the best fit for the mold that GOD made for them.”

I then went on to say,

“For example, perhaps as a parent we are squares.  We dream of having square children.  And then, much to our surprise, out pops a triangle.  Now, we have two choices.  Our first choice is to spend our life trying to make this triangle into a square.  We can push, pull, prod, probe, and poke, all in an effort to make a square out of something that is clearly NOT a square.  We can do this, but I fear we will never succeed, and in the process we will bring a lot of pain and pressure to ourselves and our triangle child.  Our second choice is to help this triangle child be the very BEST triangle that he/she can be.  We may have a few rough edges to smooth out, we may have to watch for this triangle himself trying to become a square, and we might have to give up a few of our square-shaped dreams, but we as parents can make this triangle shine!  If God created our child(ren) to be triangles, why oh why would we try to make them into a square?  We need to believe  — and then teach — our triangle child that God created her to be a triangle and so being a triangle is the BEST thing that she can do.”

As I was talking to my friend, I couldn’t help but think of my own childhood.  I definitely feel like I was a triangle kid who was put into a square mold.  People could tell I didn’t fit and I always knew I didn’t fit.  I thought I was an ugly square instead of realizing I was a beautiful triangle.  It has taken me well into my adult years to realize my true shape and to celebrate the way God created me.  I have rough edges, I sometimes try to remold myself into something I am not, and sometimes I even envy squares. But in the end, I rejoice in how my triangle shape was knit together in my mother’s womb.

I also couldn’t help but think of my triangle son, Caleb.  I love this kid so much. He actually reminds me a lot of me and so I think I have a special soft spot for him.  He is definitely NOT a square kid.  He marches to the tune of his own drummer.  He struggles in areas that other kids – “normal” kids — soar in. However, he soars in areas that most kids never even see.  He struggles with reading and writing, he can be very socially unaware, he still has speech struggles, he is obsessive and compulsive, he is impatient, and he has a very strange love affair with office supplies.  But he is also obedient and smart and incredibly creative and pensive and sensitive and loving and deep.  I have never seen a kid with a heart as big as his. Every day he asks me how my baby is doing and at prayer time always asks to pray that the baby is doing good. He makes “I love you cards” for people EVERY day.  He creates the most amazing cat houses and toys for the cats and he is probably the only kid who has ever made a dumbbell set for his stuffed elephant.  I love the way his mind works and the creative things he comes up with. He may not be a square, but I LOVE my triangle kid!

I can’t wait to see what God does with Caleb (and all the other triangle kids out there).  I will not waste my time trying to make him a square.  He is a beautiful, bright, shiny, and amazing triangle and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

January 12, 2014
by Janet
0 comments

Two Special Breakfasts

The boys were away this week. Well, I got to keep the baby boy.

The girls and I had a wonderful week together, spending lots of time on fun things like shopping, haircuts, baking, entertaining, and just being together.

One morning we were scheduled to go into town to have breakfast. Going out to breakfast here in Indonesia is a big deal. Very few places serve breakfast and those that do usually only offer the usual porridge, fried chicken and rice, and other such foods.

Enter Hummingbird Cafe. It’s this amazing little cafe that serves amazing food, delicious coffee, and is a feast for the eyes. You don’t realize how wonderful good food and beautiful decor is until you don’t have them.

We were all supposed to go but at the last minute Katie wavered in her desire. Our house helper would be home so she had the option to choose between staying and going. I was excited for the possibility of time alone with my almost-11-year-old and so I gently encouraged her that staying home might be better. She finally decided she didn’t want to make the long trek to town (it’s a short walk, followed by a 30-45 minute bus ride, followed by a 10-15 taxi ride). Actually, it was an easy decision for her once I told her that the next day, I would make a special breakfast for all of us.

So the big girl and I headed to town. We had a wonderful morning together, soaking up this amazing time between little girl years and young woman years. She’s transforming before my eyes.

True to my word, the next morning I created our own special breakfast right at home, complete with french toast made with homemade bread, “melted cappuccinos,” and fresh-cut flowers. I love creating for and serving my girls!

 

January 6, 2014
by Janet
1 Comment

Halfway to 1000

This morning, rounding the corner of one of my favorite spots, I crossed the halfway point. Halfway to 1000.

But let me back up. In July of this past year, our family spent a month in Cambodia. It was a wonderful month, putting the chaos of our lives on pause for four weeks. It gave me time to dream, think, pray, and to find my way back to me.

I was especially thankful for time to read. To my delight, a book on my mental to-read list was in the home where we were staying. It’s a book written for teens by teens, and while unfortunately I am almost half my lifetime past my teen years, Do Hard Things still had a lot to say to me.

I read it with the intention of starting to formulate some dreams and plans for my children. Months before, we were privileged to hear the authors’ father speak to the topic of “Raising Kids to do Hard Things.” I had gleaned a lot from his talk and I was anxious to read more about this concept of hard things and to start to envision what I want to see my children strive for and accomplish.

It was a good book and I highly recommend it (both for teens and for their parents).

One thing kept nagging at me though. I kept asking myself, “What hard things do my kids see me do?”

You see, I have a governing theory on much of my parenting. I firmly believe that I cannot expect my children to do something that they do not see me do. Children learn from modeling. The whole “do as I say and not as I do” line is complete rubbish. I do my very best to never ask my kids to do something I don’t do and/or aren’t willing to do. If I have expectations, plans, or dreams for my kids, then I believe that I need to step forth and model them. Can I really expect my kids to speak kind words if I don’t? Can I really expect them to have grateful hearts if the only thing they hear coming out of my mouth is complaining? Can I expect my kids to be self-sacrificing if they never see me give up my time, my desires, or my money? Can I possibly expect them to make wise food choices if they see me sitting down with a bag of chips every day or downing a pop with my breakfast?

In a natural, almost unconscious, process, children follow the examples set by others, modeling both behavior and the accompanying emotional tone.

And so, as I read through Do Hard Things, I continued to ask myself, “What hard things do my kids see me do?”

Yes, they see me care for six kids and they grasp that it is hard. They see that I homeschool them even when I could send them to a great Christian school, tuition-free. But there is something more, something that was missing. I wanted my kids to see me set a specific long-term goal and then be able to watch as I was diligently, step-by-step, worked towards its fulfillment. In short, I wanted them to have an living example in their minds of what hard things look like. I want them to be able, when they are teens or older, to be able to recall a situation when someone they knew desired to accomplish something big and tenaciously moved forward until the intended result was achieved.

And so, I set a goal for myself. And with Jason’s input and blessing (it would require sacrifice on his part as well), I told my children my plan: 1000 miles.

In one year, I was going to cover 5,280,000 feet. I was going to tackle a big goal in the way that I often tell them is the means for pursuing any dream: one step at a time.

And this morning, five and a half months after I began, I crossed the halfway point. 500 miles. Halfway to 1000.

And it’s been amazing. I have always loved to walk, so the motivation wasn’t hard to muster up. But the persistence required to meet my goal would require a daily commitment. I knew that, allowing for one rest day a week, I would need to add more than three miles to my log every day. This has required time, sacrifice, and sometimes energy I didn’t necessarily have. It has meant that Jason has had to get up with the kids and handle all the early morning craziness. It has required walking when I was sick, walking when I was sore, and walking when I really just wanted another cup of coffee.

But God has been good. My walking time is praying time. It is my counseling time. It is my worship time.

I come home each morning with a full heart and a hopeful spirit.

And the unexpected plus? A few weeks into my plan I decided that I would give running one more try (I sustained an ankle injury three years ago and haven’t been able to do much on it since then). But now, I am pain free and I have learned to run. Half my mileage each week comes from this 36-year-old mama to six S-L-O-W-L-Y pounding the pavement. And that my friends, is a very hard thing.

Photos from the last five months (all photo photos). Don’t you want to come walk with me?

Halfway to 1000 | www.preparingthesoil.com