Monday, January 12, 2009


When Orville was 2 and Wilbur was one, my husband, Michael, and I moved Orville to the "big boy" bed, while Wilbur stayed in the crib. Orville loved this change because it gave him the freedom to move around while his little brother had no choice but to watch him perform from the crib. Wilbur was literally a captive audience but enjoyed watching these shows as much as Orville enjoyed putting them on.

I knew when nap time was over each day because invariably the sounds of Orville bouncing about, followed by cackles from the crib would resound down the hallway. One day this we're-up-now-Mommy announcement came in a very unusual way. I heard Orville yelling something, then a loud THUMP, followed by Wilbur's cackle. It scared me at first, and I took off for their room as fast as I could.

I put my ear to the door and determined that everyone sounded okay, so I gently cracked the door and peaked inside, careful not to be seen. I wanted to catch Orville in the act of whatever it was he was doing.

What I saw cracked me up!

Orville had an open book on the floor in front of him. He looked at the book sternly, positioned his fists on his hips, and proclaimed, "Boo cadoo! I cun do!" With much anticipation, he jumped onto the open pages of the book, only to shake his head in frustration when he landed on top of the book and not within the world of the illustrations.

Those of you familiar with the show Blue Clues understand what he was doing. There is a segment in each episode in which Blue and Steve sing, "Blue skidoo... we can too." Then they jump into a book or painting and explore the drawings up close and personal. Orville just knew that if he persisted he could "cadoo" just like "Boo."

This is one of those mom stories that I will always cherish for its cuteness, but there is a lesson for us in there, too. We ladies have so many temptations to skidoo set before us. Our generation has been bombarded by unbiblical teachings, and it is so easy to live by one of many skewed definitions of womanhood prevalent today. We have been taught to be independent and self-reliant and that when things get tough, we need to "get away from it all" and take a little "me time". Or we need to get our act together and get things done. Don't be a wimp. Find what's at the heart of your problem and fix it.

I fought the skidooing temptation hard this past fall. It was a crazy time in the life of the Olive Plants family. There was a lot of stuff going on, and I wanted to skidoo into the realm of "me time" on a daily, maybe hourly, basis.

There was the mom stuff.

My regular readers are familiar with my boys' better qualities. You know about Orville's remarkable memory and Wilbur's artistic abilities. The Lord has blessed them and through His goodness, they have accomplished some interesting things. But, don't get the wrong idea about us. My boys have sin problems. I have sin problems. Sometimes my sin problems bump into their sin problems, and it isn't a pretty sight. There are times they argue. There are times they talk back. There are times they make glue mounds on their school desks and the hardwood floor under the guise of a "science experiment". Discipline is an on-going and often exhausting process.

There was the school stuff, too.

As you all well know, lesson plans don't write themselves. Teaching and grading take up most of my days. Record keeping and preparing materials for the upcoming week takes up most of my Saturdays. Homeschooling is a full-time job in and of itself.

There was also the wife stuff.

Michael had a challenging semester as a high school teacher. It is a well recognized fact in our home that he is the head and I am the heart. One of my roles as helpmeet is to be his counselor. When the going gets tough, I have a lot of listening to do. Sometimes hearing how students or parents talk to him is distressing. It can be so hard sometimes to see him pour himself into the lives of his students only to receive angry phone calls from parents who want their kids to get something for nothing while he does his job for a lot less compensation than professionals in other fields with comparable qualifications and experience.

Then, there was the extended family stuff.

My parents moved from TN to GA just before school started. This was a happy move for them and for me, but, it took a lot of work and help from their only child. Also, both Michael's and my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversaries this year, a milestone for which I rejoice greatly. With that rejoicing also came the distinct honor of planning not one, but two celebrations.

There was the irritating stuff.

The driver's side window on my car broke, not once, not twice, but three times, my friends. It's actually still not fixed completely right. I was without my car for a total of 2 and 1/2 weeks. Meanwhile, faucets broke. Appliances broke. The computer died. Vandals tore up the mailbox... twice. The dog got loose and stole the same pair of shoes from the neighbors more times than I can count on my fingers and toes.

There was the house stuff.

Oh, there was the house stuff! In part I mean the cleaning and upkeep, the cooking and washing and all of the stuff that no matter what else is going on, it must get done. I am also referring to our trying to sell our house in this lousy market and in the process finding out that it is need of costly repairs. With that has come the time consuming process of acquiring a loan, getting estimates and buying as much of the materials needed for a complete remodel ourselves to save as much money as possible.

There was the national stuff.

I voted in a presidential election in which I didn't really care for any of the candidates. I worried about the ramifications of a liberally controlled federal government. Will we suddenly face federal challenges to our rights as parents? As I mourned over the lack of godly leadership in our country, I also felt the blows of a troubled economy. I have had many moments in which I have worried and thought, "What is happening to America?"

Unfortunately, there was the heart-breaking stuff.

Recently, unchecked sin took root in the life of a family member and has destroyed one branch of our family tree. This branch was very closely positioned to Michael's and mine and has hurt us deeply.

There was the scary stuff.

I turned 35 last year and so it was time for my first routine mammogram. It detected a cyst. I had to schedule an ultrasound to determine whether or not it was cancerous. I would have to wait two weeks for the exam and another week for the results. Three long weeks to wait and wonder. Just one year previously, I had to have a complete hysterectomy. I had lived with chronic pain for a long time and have had multiple miscarriages. My reproductive system had been in such a mess for so long that I really don't even know how many miscarriages I had in all. Last year, these problems all came to a head. My OBGYN ran a pre-op biopsy. I had an MRI run to rule out a spinal tumor. Then came the endoscopy. My reproductive system was completely covered in cysts and a full hysterectomy had to be done so it could be biopsied. There was no cancer but a disease called adenomyosis. The hysterectomy cured that. But, here I was a year later, hearing that dreaded "c" word again, wondering if I would loose the rest of what makes me feel female. Thankfully I finally got the results, and it wasn't cancer but a benign little pocket of fluid.

Last, but not least, there was the viral stuff.

Just as Christmas break started, a break I really needed, a stomach virus hit our house. It came in two waves, and we were all pretty sick during most of the break. The Saturday before school was to start back, we had just gotten over the stomach thing, when Wilbur started sneezing and coughing. Soon, he had a fever, and the cough was relentless. Michael was next. Then, Orville.

Then me.

That's when I found myself in the same posture I had found my skidooing Orville. I was frustrated because things were not going my way and I wanted to skidoo.

Skidooing can take on many different forms. Trying to rework the schedule in hopes of making life easier. Searching for a better curriculum that will solve all my problems. Taking more "me time" in hopes of feeling more at ease. Sometimes skidooing isn't so much what I do as it is what I think.

If only we could get the house sold.

If only I could lose more weight.

If only I could get away from it all, just for a little while.

I suppose the ultimate skidoo would be giving up on homeschooling altogether and enrolling my kids in public school.

I am not suggesting that any of these are wrong in and of themselves. There is a time to assess and make changes or to take a break. There is even a time for God-fearing parents to transition from homeschooling to other options.

However, I am talking about the times that I try to use these things as quick fixes. I do these things hastily, not prayerfully. I do them in hopes that they will magically cure life's frustrations. It's when the hope of something better causes discontentment in my life. The problem is that skidooing never works because it does not get to the root of the problem.

In fact, skidooing usually compounds the problem because the root is selfishness. I can never cure my selfishness by doing selfish things.

So what is the cure?

How do I fight the temptation to skidoo?

First, I have to stop idealizing.

Think back to my story of Orville attempting to skidoo. What was his core problem? He was trying to do the impossible. I think one root of discouragement in my life is trying to do the impossible by being a perfectionist. In our society of experts, there is always someone telling us how we should cook, eat, dress, exercise, love our husbands, discipline our children, teach, fix our hair, wear our make up, decorate our homes, feel, think and live.

Advice is great and necessary, but too much can only fuel perfectionism. I have to exercise discernment and only accept the advice of those who do not contradict or place demands on me that exceed what the Lord requires.

I have to admit that sometimes I even get frustrated in trying to live up to what I perceive is the standard of Proverbs 31.

Being a Proverbs 31 woman isn't about mimicking Martha Stewart or living up to the standards of Better Homes and Gardens. The beauty of the Proverbs 31 example is that the work she does is unto the Lord and for the benefit of her family and God's Kingdom. The Lord, her husband and her children are at the heart of all she does.

She does not eat the bread of idleness, meaning in part that she works hard and at many tasks, but meaning also that she does not feed her mind on the idleness of worldly thinking. Her sustenance comes from God's Word. The work she does is not rooted in pride. Although she is put forth as the perfect example, she is not a perfectionist. She is fueled by love... love for God and His Kingdom, love for her husband, and love for her children. I must remember that the purpose of Proverbs 31 is not to give me a check-list of things to accomplish but a solid reminder that she who fears the Lord is worthy to be praised.

Secondly, I have to remember that I live in a fallen world.

There is no picture perfect place here on earth for me to skidoo to. My children will sin. My husband will have difficulties as he works to support our family. Messes will happen. Things will break. Others will disappoint me. And, yes, people, including me, will get sick.

My blessing as a Christian isn't that I will escape the trials and tribulations of this present life. The blessing is that the Lord will be faithful. He will continue to make me the fruitful vine written about in Psalm 128 not in spite of adversity but through it.

Remember Rom 8:28? "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose." The good spoken of in this verse is explained in more detail later in the same chapter. Verses 35-37 state, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." The Lord has conquered sin and will continue to help us die to self and to conform to His image. This is how we produce good fruit.

That list of "stuff" I shared earlier probably sounded like a big list of complaints. Without Christ, that's all they would be. However, the Lord has worked each of those events to my benefit. Along with each problem or headache, I could also give testimony of one or more ways that the Lord has provided or that He has shown me the error of my ways and led me to repent. If we could skidoo out of adversity, think of what we would miss.

Thirdly, I must rely entirely on the Lord.

Remember what Orville did each time his skidooing attempt failed? He regrouped, demonstrated his determination and proclaimed "I CUN DO!!"

I. Can. Do.

It's a subtle little lie that has saturated our postmodern culture.

The religion of the hour is humanism (actually it's been the enemy's lie since the garden), and the world has taught us that if we think it, believe it and try it, we can do it! Or as the enemy said to Eve, "Ye shall be as gods." 2 Cor 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. " The Lord is not glorified by our ability to do whatever we set our minds to do but rather in our weakness and our total reliance upon Him.

I know you remember Martha from Luke 10. She had her mind set on doing many things for Jesus that day. Verse 40 says that she was "angered because she had so much work to do." Is it possible that Martha had put more on herself that day than was necessary? Did she in her zeal to make the meal the best it could be, give herself and those around her too large a burden?

Meanwhile, Mary had chosen the right thing. Jesus said it would never be taken from her. She had chosen to sit as His feet and receive from Him. He says His grace is sufficient. We cannot attain this grace by striving or by doing. Rather, we receive it by asking. "Ask", the Lord says, "and it shall be given unto you". (Matt 7:7)

Finally, when I am discouraged and tempted to skidoo I must immediately look to Christ.

When I remember that He left the riches and glory of heaven and endured the cross and the wrath that I deserve, I realize that putting aside my plans for His will pales in comparison.

When I reflect on his body that was broken and blood that was poured out, I know that my responsibilities at home are just not that hard.

When I contemplate his agony, I become aware of how small my present suffering really is.

When I remember the price Jesus paid for me, I come face to face with just how sinful skidooing is and am led to repent. It is only then that I feel that peace that passes understanding and I am encouraged in the knowledge that I have a loving, forgiving God who is pleased by my service at home and who continually gives me the grace each day to be more and more satisfied in Him.


Amy W said...

I think this is absolutely what the HSA ladies need to hear tonight! You have poured your heart into it, and it shows! I am encouraged by what you have written, and I know the ladies will be, too. I'll be prayiing for you tonight!! You'll do great! :) LY!

argsmommy said...

I've had to read in small chunks throughout the morning, but I thought it was wonderful. If it's not what your group needs to hear tonight, it was at least what I needed to hear this morning. I think I spent most of last week trying to "skidoo" (My kids were never into Blue's Clues, but I think I get the picture). Thank you for letting your readers get a preview!


Homeschool Dawn said...

Thanks, ladies for taking the time to read this today and to leave me some feedback. I appreciate it, especially since I posted it very quickly and very last minute.
The meeting went very well tonight. My only issue was that I still have a cough from my cold and kept coughing throughout. In a way, it added to the presentation, seeing how viral stuff was one of the discouragers I mentioned.
Your nice comments helped calm my nerves. I got a lot of good responses tonight, too. The Lord was pleased to use my words for His glory.
Thanks again.

Christy@MercyEveryMorning said...

Hey Dawn,

I just now read this, and am glad to hear that it went well, despite the cough! Very convicting, and encouraging. Thanks for sharing it.