There are many, many days in my life when I know I am "not like the others." It began when I was a child, I think. I hate Vegemite and I detest Weet-Bix. These are two Aussie breakfast staples. Vegemite on toast or Weet-Bix with milk and sugar are pretty much what my father and brothers had every single day, between them. Weet-Bix with warm milk....gag. My Dad used to tell me I'm not a very good Aussie kid, because "Aussie kids are Weet-Bix kids", you know. In that ad (click on the link) you even see a man eating Vegemite on toast. Really, I should have been born in some other country at some other time in history!!
A couple of recent conversations have reminded me I'm not a normal 'girl' either. Not when it comes to shopping. I shop like a bloke: Get in, get the thing you need from the place that sells it, and get out. These are decisions made well before you even enter a shopping centre of any kind. When our senior pastor's wife begins a sermon talking about needing an inordinate number of shoes and that one shops for these at whim, my eyes glaze over. I'm sure it is a form of torture. Shopping tours, therefore, are the ultimate torture. A whole day of shopping for things you don't need as a form of entertainment? Oh just kill me now! My kids know they get about a two-hour window of opportunity for shopping, first thing in the morning, when we need a whole bunch of stuff. After that I start murmuring things like "why are we here" and "I can't do this". If we go in the afternoon that window of opportunity significantly decreases. Like, there is no window in the afternoon.
Living in a "third world" or "developing" nation as a child has surely contributed to the way I view shopping. Where we lived you only shop for what you need. If you can get it. Chances are what you need isn't available and must be ordered from "down south" (aka Australia) and you had to wait a long time for it to arrive. This idea of shopping for entertainment was simply not part of my world until I was nearly 15. By then it was too late.
I have passed some of these things on to my children. Only one eats Weet-Bix. Only one eats Vegemite (not the same one). None of them are inclined to shop for fun unless one of their friends insists this is essential for spending time together. That's rare. It takes half an hour to get to this version of entertainment from where we live so it's not all that enticing after all.
I posted about a week or two ago about how we were limping to the end-of-term finish line. We made it. Just. And now my family are rebelling and my husband is complaining about "take away...again?!". I need to plan to do better because without obsessive organisation and planning absolutely nothing will improve in the next few weeks. I have four weeks and three assignments to go and I already know that I go into a kind of assignment lock-down. I get so engrossed in the most urgent things (assignment due dates) that I could easily forget I even have a family, except they are noisy and demanding when it comes to things like food. They are just so unreasonable! Really, who ever said they had to eat every three hours anyway?
I looked in my freezer last night and it is practically empty. This is a distressing realisation for this bunch of food-motivated people. So I have a plan. Well, I'm playing fast and loose with the term 'plan', but from 8.30 this morning we'll have no electricity, so I can actually construct a solid plan and then we'll be good to go. My plan is to put lots of stuff in the freezer so that over the next four weeks I can pull out good food rather than junk. It will be my buffer between my time constraints and our need to eat better than we have been.
Today I will sit down and think about what I'll put in there and how I'll go about it. For example, this week I have a casserole and a lasagna planned so that I can freeze half and voila I'll have two meals all ready to go on a whim. Maybe I'll even do a whole-month menu plan for the first time in forever and assign the kids to cook meals. Although with Miss Sunshine entering her final Yr12 exam period and Miss Mischief preparing for Yr11 exams just after that I think it'll be Mr Busy and the freezer stash I want to have there.
I've just submitted my fourth (out of seven) assignment for the semester. It's a rather satisfying feeling to hit that 'submit' button and be done with a piece of work that has challenged the very heart of what I believe about the Bible.
Over the past few weeks, in my Religious Education unit, we have been looking at Biblical criticism. You may have heard of the words hermeneutics or exegesis. Essentially it is the scholarly, scientific methods through which scripture is examined, interpreted and understood. I have come away from these past few weeks feeling like the only way to understand the Bible is to have a theological degree in hermeneutics and ancient languages. I have felt uptight, tense and ill-at-ease. Critical methods for interpreting the Bible are helpful - there is no doubt about that. I have learnt that some of the perceived inconsistencies can actually be explained. In so many ways I have had "aha" moments about the Bible.
There are a ridiculous number of methods for interpreting the Bible. Methods that are complex and hotly debated amongst scholars; old methods superseded by new methods, each looking at the Bible through its own lens, looking for particular things. Each method brings something different to the table. But they are all human endeavours. All human perspectives on what the Bible says, about what the original author may have intended and about the life context of the first readers. So I have been cautious and I have had this wariness deep within.
Tonight I figured it out. A beautifully expressed quote from R C Sproul in his book Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow (thank you internet!!) eloquently nailed the heart of the problem I had been wrestling with:
"The Bible is also profitable for reproof and correction,
which we as Christians continually need. It is fashionable
in some academic circles to exercise scholarly criticism
of the Bible. In so doing, scholars place themselves
above the Bible and seek to correct it. If indeed
the Bible is the Word of God, nothing could be
more arrogant. It is God who corrects us; we don’t
correct Him. We do not stand over God but under Him"
(from Chapter 1, emphasis mine)
Whilst interpretation methods can be really helpful, the Bible is so powerful all on its own. It is God-breathed (or inspired, depending on your version). It reveals the character and heart of the God who created us. It reveals the incredible and perfect love our God us for us. It convicts us, directs us, instructs us and transforms us. The Bible is powerful enough to change the very hearts and lives of people without scholarly explanation.
My assignment has been submitted. My world has been righted.
Last week the 'boys' in our house took a little road trip. Mr Busy could not get his homework done quickly enough, nor pack with enough speed when we suggested he might like to accompany his Dad on a trip to install a coffee machine in some out-of-the-way country town in northern NSW.
This left us 'girls' with three nights at home without the pleasure of our menfolk to entertain us. The house was quiet. And calm. And peaceful. We all spent some of our time studying. With a student-free day on Friday, we spent some time catching up on episodes of 'Under the Dome' and 'Extant'. We enjoyed a shared pan of nachos without feeling like we had to hoard our share, because we just picked away at it til it was gone. No competition.
And then the boys came home. In a whirlwind of noise and teasing and general kerfuffle they arrived home at lunch time on Saturday, ravenous and prowling through the kitchen. I spent the entire afternoon telling Mr Busy "it was quiet while you were gone!" Indeed, I went and did grocery shopping all the way down in the suburbs to get away let the dust settle a bit!
I know when I've been away for the weekend without my family I find the reentry to family a little bit bumpy. Coming home drops you back in the deep end of refereeing arguments and fielding requests that begin with "Mum, can you...." or "Mum, can I...." like all those questions have been building up to be blurted out the moment you walk in the door. After a weekend away it's hard to come back to the full force of that. But what I discovered on Saturday is that when anyone in the family has been away there is a period of readjusting and resettling that is necessary. And not always that easy. My best reentries have happened when the family have been out and I've had an hour in the house on my own to reacquaint myself with my real life. I suspect that may be have been useful to remember when the boys came home. Mind you, they had been on a three-day sugar bender, so there was extra fuel behind that reentry noise!
The back seat of the car looked like an archeological dig - layers of rubbish that told a story.
We're back to normal now, and a visit to 'The Dish' as they drove through Parkes netted me a new thimble for my collection; a softening of the reentry whirlwind.
It's two weeks until the end of the term; three-quarters of our way through the school year and we are limping, people. Seriously limping.
Last week I didn't make a menu plan. Bad, bad mistake. Figuring out what to eat nearly brought me to tears more than once because I have lost my will to cook. It feels overwhelming and completely overrated and I daily wonder aloud why these people in my home think they need to be fed. Five. Times. A. Day. We are resorting to freezer meals and take away too often because I have lost my will to cook. In the words of Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show: Sad and pitiful!
Mr Busy keeps asking about putting together a Gandalf costume for his Hobbit Party next week and I just can't make my brain work enough to think about what that even means. And then there are all the school holiday dates that I can't even make myself put into my phone. I know there's a Kids Church leaders thing, and movie days and a Uni thing and maybe a trip to South Australia for a few days. My brain is sludge and it won't cooperate with keeping those things straight in my head let alone putting them in my phone where they won't be forgotten.
To top it all off I am not waking up at the crack of dawn, even though it's light by 6am now. I am an early riser. I beat the birds all through the winter without a second thought. But two weeks before the end of the term and I'm struggling to get out of bed with the alarm that is waking me from a dead sleep.
Yes, we are limping. The girls are tired. Mr Busy has to be reminded ten times to do anything, including turning his light out at night. I am just doing the next thing and saying no to stuff I want to say yes to. Dh keeps telling me how tired he is and I have no sympathy for the poor man. The other day I told him "we're all tired, it's not unique to you so suck it up and get on with it". Not our finest moment!
The problem with this picture is that we're all sad and pitiful. None of us seem to capable of carrying another. In eleven sleeps we can stop going to school for a little bit. Eleven sleeps can't pass by soon enough.
Tonight....roast chicken. If I remember to pull it out of the freezer, and there are no guarantees between here and there.
How are you going this close to the end of the term?How do you protect yourself from being the worst end-of-term family?
I wonder how you handle those really big decisions in life? Those ones that occur at a major cross-road in life, but where there doesn't really seem to be a 'right' or 'wrong' way ahead, just a choice to be made.
When you come to the end of a season these decisions are inevitable and necessary, yet not easy to discern the path ahead. My degree will be completed in a mere 7 weeks + teaching rounds. By the middle of November I will have completed all the requirements of my course and be qualified to register as a teacher. I know this is what God wants me to be doing. He pushed me to enrol at University. It was an impression over my life that I simply could not escape. I could not disobey what I was being asked to do. God has reiterated that the response He requires from me is to teach. The big decision, for me, comes with questions about where will I be teaching.
Over the last few weeks I have been doing some major wrestling over the desire of my heart and whether or not that might be the same as God's will in regard to where I get to teach next year. The desire of my heart is so strong. To have to step away from that will mean heartbreak, one crack at a time for weeks and weeks. It would mean leaving where I am. Leaving the children I simply adore. Leaving staff I respect and love deeply. Leaving the shared history of knowing and being known by others. I can tell you, this possibility has caused more than a few tears.
Yet I know to my very core that being outside of God's will is not a pleasant place to be. Being in that place means that when the wheels fall off and things get tough everything is just harder because you're not where you're meant to be. Knowing you're in God's will when things go haywire makes it just a tiny bit easier to endure.
The last few weeks have meant wrestling my way to a place where I have been truly able to say not my will, but Yours. You know my heart and my desires and I hope there is a way for them to be the same, but I'd rather be where You want me to be. The future is uncertain. There is no clear direction with few opportunities to apply for at the moment.
And so in my waiting my prayer has become make my will the same as Yours and give me a passion for where You want me to be.
This image above gives you an idea of the beginning of Mr Busy's day, when he realised his PE clothes were hanging on the line. Wet. Whilst we don't have a uniform at Our School we do have a you-must-wear-appropriate-PE-attire-and-school-sports-shirt rule for PE classes, so I had to write a note, which I opted to email because you know, you don't hear about these details until three seconds before running out the door.
For you amusement...the note:
It is probably a little late in the day, but I promised Mr Busy I would email you about his PE attire today.Dh, the resident laundry guru (as in, I
have no idea how the laundry appears clean, dry and folded in this house!),
upset the normal laundry routine yesterday, which meant Mr Busy's PE clothes
were all wet this morning.You can't
imagine how upset he was that he wouldn't have the right clothes, because I
have passed down my rule-following genes.It took a bit of convincing that normal clothes would OK this once,
considering the alternative (ie wet clothes that would stink, or ... nothing at
Hope the day has been bright for you both :)
I didn't end up emailing til late in the day because Miss Mischief left information for a SAC on the table so I uncharacteristically dashed back to school for her. I never take homework to school after we've left home (you know, if I was home to do it on a normal day), but this was an assessment thing, and I knew she would stress out over it. In payment, she is now my slave for life, which will includes shoulder rubs whenever I desire. It's a small price I'm sure.