Wednesday, November 24, 2010

C.S. Lewis, Aunt Jemima and my deceitful heart

Happy Thanksgiving! We've been busy here the last two months getting the animals settled in for the cold season and working on more clean-up. Now that it is fall and the snakes have gone away to hibernate, we can trek in the woods without worrying about them. We've taken off two more truckloads of junk from the woods and cleared out even more brush and saplings. I think we'll be doing a full-fledged bonfire this weekend.

We may even finally start clearing some area for pasture- yesterday I flagged some pines for Cory to get with the chainsaw. My brother brought up his four-wheeler and trailer so we can haul heavier loads, which has already helped a lot. We want to buy seed and disk the existing pasture but that may have to wait until spring. The truck has needed even more repairs, and we still haven't fixed our plumbing yet. I even broke my camera. During such times, I look at my kids and the land and don't think about the plumbing or the ceiling or the bathrooms or the new noise the truck is making. It is also helpful to cover your ears and eyes and sing la-la-la over and over to yourself.

Fall has brought lots of family visits, and I've been working steadily with homeschooling. After five years I am finally in a groove and it is going well. We are getting solid days in each day and the kids are making great progress. Quinn is catching up quickly after being my practice child and Sam is so far ahead of where his age group normally is (with no prodding or pushing at all from me) that it's starting to become obvious he will graduate at least two years early and maybe more if I make any effort to keep him challenged. Quinn exhibits a level of understanding and maturity far beyond his age. Each child is so different in their gifts- it's so clear to me that, though templates are necessary for the basics of education, it's what happens outside of the templates that determines if their gifts will flourish.

I read about C.S. Lewis' childhood once and the image has stayed in my mind. The country place he summered (I think it was a relative's home) had books everywhere and he had endless time just to read... in quiet halls inside, and in quiet country outside. That is one of the reasons we have no television or video games. I want their minds and their spirits to develop unfettered. Do you understand what God can do with a mind and spirit unfettered? It is beautiful just to think about.

I noticed out the kitchen window the other morning one of my two little hens scratching away for bugs, as she normally does. They have become part of the landscape. I was worried there would be chicken poo everywhere when we got them, but there is enough room here that is isn't noticeable at all. What is noticeable is that they've really kept the number of bugs down. They are like little busy mamas always keeping the outside clean for us. I wish I could dress them in little aprons or little Aunt Jemima bandannas. They are our pest control and the cows are our lawn crew. (I haven't mowed since April).

The two hens are putting out two amazingly good eggs per day, which is just about perfect for a family of four, except when Cory wants an omelet and throws my numbers totally off. The rooster, however, is getting more annoying. He flogged me recently and then I proceeded to teach him a lesson with my rake. I don't see a long life in his future but Cory said he will trim his spurs, so that might help him see a few more days.

Overall, things have been relatively quiet here. We still have one vehicle, so it's just the kids and I during the week. They are finding more and more trees that they like to climb as we clear out the underbrush. Physically I do a lot of the same things over and over- teach, cook, clean, wash dishes, do laundry. My mind and spirit are busy with other things- things that are not yet but I hope will be soon.

This month marks my five year anniversary since I left the corporate world. Five years is a segment of time often associated with the word 'plan,' as in, five-year-plan. Though they have been the best five years of our lives so far, I still get very frustrated about things I haven't yet accomplished. In Revelation there is a section where God talks about people who still would not stop worshiping the work of their hands... things that they wrought themselves that they trusted in and worshiped and looked to instead of God. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" A deceived heart seems to always lead to the worship of the work of your hands, doesn't it? David asked God to search his heart. I also have to ask God about my heart. As much as I want, and I desperately want, to accomplish certain things I have my heart set on, there is nothing worthy of placing my hope in above God Himself, whom I already have.

We already have Him. We, believers in Christ, already have Him. It was in the language of all of us over-achievers with deceived hearts that Jesus uttered His last words, "It is finished." He rescued us from ourselves and is giving us daily what we need, even working to bless us with some of our wants- but I believe those wants always are being checked against the state of our heart. So I am trying to daily quit striving and let my heart be conformed by gratitude. If I feel strife, I immediately know that I've pushed into the realm of trying to take or earn what God had freely given, or is withholding for His perfect purposes, or will freely give... in His perfect timing.