Making New Friends

I had absolutely no idea how difficult it would be to make friends, and then keep those friendships going, as an adult.

On the extreme end of the social awkwardness scale as a child and adolescent, I understood this.  I was a cross-eyed kid with a weight problem who changed schools about every year and a half until junior high, so I learned quickly that fitting in wasn’t going to be my “thing” and chose the path of non-conformity.  Certainly I made a some friends along the way, but they were few and far between and I struggled to maintain more than handful of relationships long-term.  But I guess I thought I’d eventually grow out of all of that and learn to relate to people.

A few years ago God brought me to a wonderful church home and family and I’ve made some amazing friends.  It’s been such a blessing to connect with people and share with them, not just on a “church-y” level, but to have our families become friends and our kids grow close.

My family’s choice to homeschool has changed a lot of our relationships over the last year.  My kids and I have been experiencing diminished relationships with a lot of our friends and it’s really starting to sink in, at least for me.  It’s just because our schedules and activities no longer line up , not because my friends don’t care about me or my life!

So I feel like I should find some new friends… not to replace the old ones, who I still love, but friends who have a lifestyle like mine.  This leaves me feeling once again like that socially awkward child, wanting to have friends but not really knowing how to go about finding some.

But I know that God created us to be in community with one another, so I know that I will find people who I can share my life with… I just have to put myself out there, not just for me, but for my girls.

 

Over My Head… Again

Why is it that about once every year I find myself totally overwhelmed with all of the commitments that I have taken on?  Nobody has forced these things on me, they’re things I love, things I’ve chosen and quite honestly, things I’ve prayed about feel like I’m supposed to be doing!

I’ve mentioned before that I started homeschooling my kids this past Fall, and I haven’t a doubt in my mind that God put that call on my life.  I also hold 2 different leadership positions, one as the chair of a major committee within my church and one as a team coordinator for an anti-human trafficking ministry here in Houston.  In addition to that I’m on another church committee, part of another ministry team and help with the Wednesday Youth Bible study at our church.  Are you feeling tired yet?  Because I know I am!

I love my life.  I love all of the ministries I’m a part of, all of the ways I’m able to serve, and I should mention that I really am an extremely high energy person.  I need activity in my life or I’ll create problems.  (I’ll write about that another time)  My problem is that I am totally incapable of balancing all of these parts of my life.

I don’t think I’ve spent more than an hour at a time with my husband in several weeks, other than sleeping next to one another.  (He’s been busy as well, currently he’s away on a junior high youth camp weekend)  My kids’ schooling has turned from fun to routine, with me just trying to cram in the rest of our work before summer.  I’m stressing over an upcoming presentation for the anti-trafficking ministry, as it’s one I’m having to build from the notes of another leader.  I feel like I’m forgetting things constantly and just not doing a good job at anything.

I go through this cycle regularly, and I pray and I try to cut out activities, drop commitments, put aside things that are no longer part of this “season” of my life, but then I just start over again.  Things build and I realize that I’m busy, but it’s fine… I like busy.  But it keeps snowballing and then one day I just wake up and realize I’m not doing anything well, and I feel like a failure.

“When I am overwhelmed,  you alone know the way I should turn.” ~  Psalm 142:3

I know that the biggest issue I face during these times is that I allow my busyness to interfere with my relationship with Christ.  The first thing I do when I wake up stops being quiet time and starts being email.  My prayer journal goes days, then weeks without being picked up and the bookmark in my devotion book doesn’t move.  Now that I know, I’ll recommit.  I’ll get up earlier, get in my quiet time, pray more.  But for how long?  I want to get out of this pattern, I just need God’s strength to do it.

I Knew it Would Be Hard

At least I thought I did.

Homeschooling is something I never thought I would, should or could do.  When God introduced this thought to my mind and the calling into my heart, I was horrified.  I have no teaching background, and in fact have always been more inclined to just do something myself rather than deal with the frustration of showing someone else how to do it.  I’m impatient, self-centered, unstructured and in reality, have never felt like I was even doing that good of a job as a mother.  I have a past full of junk and really just tried to do the best I could not to let it infiltrate the lives of my daughters as I brought them up in what has become a Christian home over the last several years.

I talked to everyone I knew that was already homeschooling their kids, from long-timers to those who were just starting out.  I prayed for months, I read books, I researched curriculum and talked to all of the people whose opinions I valued.   I really prepared in as thoroughly a way I thought was possible but still knew there would be bumps in the road.  My kids wouldn’t always listen to me.  My house would be a mess.  Personalities would clash and schedules would fail, chores would go undone, nerves would be tested and I would lose pretty much all free time.  I got it.

I’m about 6 months into homeschooling right now and I have to say that logically, I really did get all of those things.  I haven’t really encountered any surprises on a mental level, but I have been astonished at the emotional and spiritual stretching that has taken place during this journey.

I’ve scaled back on a lot of activities, like lunches with friends, shopping dates, even volunteer activities and Bible studies.  I grossly underestimated just what chaos would result from the kids and I being here all of the time, and how little time I would have to keep things neat.  I definitely didn’t account for our budget spinning out of control over curriculum, art classes, Taekwondo, piano lessons and library late fees.  Who could have guessed my husband’s business would pick up, leaving me to deal with a pre-teen attitude and an artistically temperamental 7-year-old not just all day, but all evening as well?

My time is no longer my own to spend as I please, that is true, but it means that I have to work to make all of the moments that I have matter.  The time I spend in instruction with my kids needs to be focused and intentional but loving and flexible at the same time.  I’ve had to learn to be creative, to see the value in what it means to pass on knowledge and interests and especially faith.  I’ve had to start carving out time with God so that my relationship with Him stays close, as this walk is all about obedience, love and grace.

“It does not, therefore, depend on my desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” Romans 9:16  

God led me down this path, and He is using it to His glory.  I know my children so much better than I did 6 months ago!  I have the opportunity to do things with my girls that many of my friends don’t, like travel on my own schedule, study the best curriculums and subjects, take field trips whenever we want and learn hands-on.

Thank you God, for teaching me.

What are you waiting for?

I came across this post on Facebook the other day and it really struck a chord with me.  I don’t know about you, but so often in my life, I wait for just the right time before I do what I might consider “frivolous” things.  You know, a time when I’m not so busy, a time when I’ve got extra money or when the kids don’t need as much of my attention.  Do those times ever really come?  I guess they probably do, in retirement.

As I read this though, I was reminded of my grandmother, who passed away just over 3 years ago.   She was a great hero in my life and I loved talking with her about the past, about family and the world.   For a woman who grew up during the Depression and was a young adult during the WWII era, she was a remarkably modern woman.

She grew up living with her much-older sister’s family, and when she graduated high school rather than get married, she went to work as a secretary.  She had photo albums full of pictures of herself with friends of both genders, having fun, travelling, and living a wonderful single life.  All while maintaining her Christian values.  She married my grandfather when she was 34 years old, long past the time she had been deemed a spinster, and had a long, happy marriage.

While I think all of these things made her extraordinary, they are not exactly why this post made me think of her.  The reason she lived her life the way she did was because she wanted to.  She held to her faith and her values at all times, but if there was something she wanted to do, no reason she shouldn’t do it, then she did it.  I admired that so much.

I’ve tried to follow her example, but I’m one of those people who worries too much about pleasing others, about how I might be perceived if I go against the grain.  But every  now and then I feel inspired and I go for it.  I let my hairdresser (my younger sister) put bright blue and purple streaks in my hair.  I joined an adult soccer league for about 2 years, just so that I could say I was an athlete… for a little while.  Best of all, I took the leap into foreign missions a few years ago, which a lot of people thought was crazy as my youngest daughter was 4 at the time.

Sometimes you have to wait for circumstances to be right, I know that.  But sometimes you get something in your head or your heart and you realize that there’s no time like the present.  Pray about it.  God will let you know if you’re meant to wait or if it’s time to Carpe Diem!

Outside the Zone

I stay incredibly busy pretty much all the time, and there are a lot of times when I’m inclined to complain about how much I have to do or bemoan the elusive life balance with friends.  But the truth is, I really love everything I do!  One of the most amazing things I’m part of is a faith-based anti-human trafficking organization here in Houston.  The other night, I had the opportunity to meet up with another ministry, similar to ours, and participate in their mid-week street worship…. I loved it!

There’s something about praising God outside of my comfort zone that’s so awesome to me.  Doing mission work for the last several years has given me the opportunity to worship in homeless shelters, prisons, foreign countries and on the streets.  I’ve worshipped alongside some of the poorest people in the world, prison lifers, drug addicts, prostitutes, transvestites and gang members.

I love my church.  My amazing, loving, Methodist, suburban church. They’re like family.  But there’s something about being among those that society doesn’t always see that really makes me feel God’s love for all of us.  I feel his love for me and I know that he loves all of the people around me and that he wants me to love them too, and I feel that love for them.

Maybe that sounds a little strange, but hopefully it makes sense 🙂