Month: August 2013

Words

Words

This little plaque should actually read: Lead me, O Lord…and keep Your mighty hand over my mighty mouth! Words. Spoken. Written. Sung. Everyday I am inundated with words. So many great blogs. So many great books. So many Facebook posts and texts. So. Many. Words. […]

Another Miley Post? Well, kinda.

Another Miley Post? Well, kinda.

I really, really, really did not want to write a post about the now notorious Miley Cyrus VMA performance. Yesterday, I saw dozens of blog posts, pictures and jokes about Miley – and I didn’t want to contribute to the hype. Yet, as I sat […]

Road to Damascus

Road to Damascus

road

In the book of Acts, chapters 6 and 7 tell of a man named Stephen. Heard of him? He was a God-fearing man who faced persecution and death with courage and grace. Gave all for the cause of Christ. The end of Acts 7 records his death. (I strongly encourage you to read Acts 6 and 7 for yourself. But for our purposes today, I won’t digress.)

Acts 8 begins with the words “And Saul approved his (Steven’s) execution.” Chapter 8 continues with an account of Saul’s persecution of the Church known then as ‘the Way.’ In part, his persecution of Christ’s followers led to the scattering of believers. But instead of leading to their demise, their forced evacuation, so to speak, led to them spreading the gospel farther and farther. (Isn’t that just how God works? He takes the world’s evil and turns it to good for His glory. If we only had eyes to see how He does this in the very worst of circumstances.)

But Saul was a persistent sort of fellow. He had a one track mind – and it was focused fully on imprisoning and killing Christ’s followers. Acts 9 shows us that he seeks permission to search out those in the faith in order to bring them back to Jerusalem to be persecuted. He sets off to Damascus…but enters in a way entirely different than he had planned.

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. (Acts 9)

The rest of Acts 9 tells of Saul’s conversion. God took this man, Saul, who had persecuted Jesus’ followers and uses Him mightily to further His kingdom. He changed his name to Paul; He did more than change his name, He changed everything about his life. One who had spent his time and energy in persecuting, now spent his time and energy teaching a Way which would lead him to be persecuted.

This story portrays so many things.

How God can take a man’s evil…and use it for His eventual glory and good.

How God can take the mess we are…and make it beautiful.

How He sees our beauty…and not the ugly. Because what Saul was doing was ugly. But I believe that while Saul was busy being Saul…God was seeing Paul.

How our reward, our eternity is so much bigger than the pain we are feeling right now.

How forgiveness really is so much bigger than us. Saul had hurt many people. But these were the people who eventually let go of their fear…and embraced Paul.

But most of all, this account made me think about my own road to Damascus. When did I stop persecuting others? Persecuting Christ? When did I really admit my blindness and how much I needed Christ? When did I recognize and embrace that Christ is the Way? The only way? Oh, as these super humans in this super world of technology and education, we don’t want to admit to this doctrine of Jesus being the way. We want to forge our way ourselves, on our terms.

And the most chilling question – do I ever meander back down my road to Damascus? Do I start fighting battles for the Lord that He’s never asked me to fight? Do I persecute those He loves? Am I on a mission that is contrary to the work He wants me to do?

I am thankful that on my own road to Damascus, He shed the scales from my eyes. How I hope that I won’t blind myself again by my own ambitions, selfish desires or fears!

He is so mighty to save. Even to those who’ve been ugliest to His cause, He is mighty to save. Might it be so with me.

(I encourage you to read Acts 8-9 to learn more about Saul and his story- preferably Acts 6-9 to also read the incredible telling of Stephen’s testimony. These accounts are so rich with history and truth, my quick little summary really does this no justice.)

A Day in the Life of Unraveled Me

A Day in the Life of Unraveled Me

I didn’t even hear Mr. Commuter’s alarm go off. After he’d showered and dressed, he gently shook my shoulder. Time to get up, Suuuunshine! Chipper. Not allowed.  Not in the morning. What time is it? I groggily searched for my glasses. 5:30! More sunshine drenched […]

Patchwork

Patchwork

  As I walked through my aunt’s home, I found myself taking pictures of her cozy little nooks and crannies. She has this gift of taking a house, and making it a home. She finds treasures, little things probably often overlooked, and puts them someplace […]

Mary Kay and Notes from Mama

Mary Kay and Notes from Mama

lipstick

“Is your face always so … red?!”

Her incredulous tone was a bit much and still reverberates through my head, two years later, on those chance days I decide to spend a little more time in front of the mirror and apply makeup.

Yep, we’ll blame my lack of put-togetherness (Hey, it’s my blog, I can make up words!) on the fear of the mirror, instilled in me by a perky Mary Kay consultant. She was perky, but none too nice thankyouverymuch. Miss Mary Kay didn’t like me from the moment I buzzed in fully ON in “Nicki mode,” giggling and conversing with the ladies around me.  I knew right then, she doesn’t get my kind of crazy.

The sad thing is, I remember getting to know a couple other gals that day who were sweet and totally accepted me in my kind of crazy. But it was the words and looks swept my way by one individual that still stick with me like bees on honey.

Can we be honest here for a minute? (Ha! Like you have a choice!) I have spent so many years focusing and obsessing on the negative thrown my way, it’s become habit. For the one critical comment out of ten to be the one I focus on.

Brutal honesty time. I’m choosing to camp here. Not in a “I wake up and decide to hold on to all the negative” kind of way. But in a “I’ve spent so many years formulating this habit of holding on to the one person who doesn’t like me or the one critical comment out of ten, it is a habit seemingly outside of my control” kind of way. But the painful flip side of this? I’ve learned to treat the loving words, the compliments, the special moments in a cavalier way. The “you’re beautifuls” from those who really matter? One of those is enough to destroy all the comments like “Is your face always this red?”

If I choose to let them. If I choose to savor the right words and filter the criticism.

Some of my favorite words are contained in this laminated piece of paper that resides in my Bible.

moms verse

My mom left me a note a week before she passed away unexpectedly.

“Let the Bible fill the memory, rub the heart and guide the feet.” Henrietta Mears – cool, huh?

Hey – you know what? I really love you – and more important… I really like you!!!”

To this day, I cannot read those words without hearing my mom’s voice. Hearing the love and affirmation.

Those are words worth storing in my memory bank. When I look in the mirror, I want to hear those words soothing my heart as I learn not to focus on my imperfections but instead God working on imperfect me.

This is a hard work for me. Just yesterday, I had a beautiful day with my kids, an unexpected visit from a new friend, time with relatives we rarely see, a send off for a beautiful niece going to do great things, and time with my sisters. And yet the things rattling in my brain as I slowly came out of sleep this morning were a moment when I admitted to a less-than-stellar-mom-move in front of a group of people I don’t know really well. And a brief look and comment from one not approving of a homeschooling choice I am making. These were such little parts of a wonderful day, and yet the embarrassment and frustration take up way too much room in my head!

I am choosing today to pray over my anxious, oversensitive heart. I am choosing to remember the way my somewhat-unfriendly baby girl nestled her head under my big ol’ tough guy uncle’s chin. The laughter – and tears – shared with a new friend. The giggles shared with a sister. The I-love-yous and snuggles given freely by my babies.

When I focus on the “ick”, the good moments- and the good people – get less of me. And don’t they – and these moments – deserve all of me?

My mom left treasured notes of another kind.

scripture card

Scriptures written on dozens and dozens of note cards.

The best words of affirmation a mother could give? Words of love and truth and yes, even constructive criticism and instruction from our loving Father.

Truth that far surpasses Mary Kay mishaps, hurtful words and looks, and the mistakes I make daily. Truth that is eternal.

And that is something work remembering.

(Disclaimer: I have nothing against Mary Kay – great company, great products. And most of the Mary Kay consultants I’ve met have hearts of gold!) 😉

 

 

Torn

Torn

Distance. Like my prayers were hitting the ceiling. I felt out of fellowship with God – and this place of wilderness felt dark and scary. I knew I was in this place of my own accord. The Bible assures us in Hebrews that Jesus is […]

Without Love

Without Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as […]

Homeschooling Q & A

Homeschooling Q & A

“You home school? Wow, you’re…brave.”

Those are the words I hear; but the look and tone say, “You.are.crazy – crazy, with a capitol C!” or “Oohhh. You’re one of those people.”

Ha! I so get it. God has done a big work on me in this department. It wasn’t all that long ago that the word “homeschooling” conjured images of long denim skirts and crocheting with my girls. (Disclaimer: I have nothing against long denim skirts. It’s just a cruel stereotype about homeschoolers. And denim. And I really do wish I could crochet with my girls. I can’t even sew on a button.)

Then God placed some homeschooling families right smack in my path. And ya know what? They were amazing. They were normal. And there wasn’t a denim skirt in the mix.

Let’s face it, in our neck of the woods, we’ve heard or seen the horror stories. Parents who said they were homeschooling their kids. And weren’t. Bewildered kids forced to function in the “real world” who struggled, socially if not academically. Kids unable to function outside the family unit.

But as I studied on this whole homeschooling idea, I found that was not the norm. Homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds but many of us still hold fast to the few “oddities” we remember from our own school years.

I’m approaching you honestly and vulnerably in this series of homeschooling posts in order for you to get a peek inside our home. But I need you to remember with every word of this blog – I am speaking for our homeschooling household alone. There is a wide variety of homeschooling views, opinions, styles and so on. I can only share what this crazy, beautiful life looks like for us. So after that long preamble, let’s get going!

1. Are you worried about socialization?

This is the million dollar question – meaning if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked it, I’d be rich! Let’s start with a definition of socialization from ol’ Merriam-Webster:

:the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status

Folks, this is what I strive for every single day. As I choose curriculum, teach my children, plan outings and extracurricular activities, I am prayerfully seeking how best to guide my child into becoming a successful, productive member of our society.

I don’t feel the only way to successfully socialize my child is to predominately place them in a class with 20 peers. I socialize my child when I actively involve him in the day to day communications with our doctor/dentist/banker/teller/clerk and so on. I see socialization occurring when I watch my children interacting and learning each day with their siblings – problem-solving, doing chores and doing school. Great training for the day they work with someone who knows how to push every one of their buttons!

That being said, we are very intentional about providing our children with opportunities to work in big peer groups. Public school sports, after school church programs, homeschooling co-op groups, 4H – the list goes on. And quite honestly, because we have a bit more flexibility in our schedule and homework free nights, I am more enthusiastic about helping my kids pursue their interests.

2. How will your children learn to obey and take instruction from other adults?

This question/answer piggyback on number 1 a bit. We take it seriously that our children respect and learn from other trusted adults. In fact, this past year I have stepped back from volunteering/teaching in my children’s extracurriculars because I’ve felt so strongly they need this opportunity to have instruction/learning/leisure time with peers and adults besides Mom.

We are in process of joining a home school group that focuses on music, art and physical education lessons, meeting several times each month. This meets two of our needs for our children – peer time and instruction by other trusted adults.

3. Do I hate the public school system in general?

I am so not qualified to answer this question! I do not hate the public school system. Flawed maybe; like many, I have concerns about standardized testing being an assessment for both our students and our teachers. I worry about one-size-fits-all curriculum. But I don’t have practical answers for these problems for such a vast system. And many of the most kindhearted and giving people I know are teachers. How can I hate a system filled with so many selfless people?

4. Do I think our local public school is not good enough?

Not at all. We have a great working relationship with our school. From the beginning, it has been marked by honest communication. In fact, our children are dual enrolled in the system. They have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, class parties and classes…and the school gets a bit more tax money. 😉 Ha! In all seriousness, we are grateful for our public school.

5. Are you accountable to anyone?

We are accountable to the state. We currently complete yearly standardized testing. We also have a supervising teacher who visits our home, peruses our children’s work and watches them as they do school in their environment. (There are rules and regulations individual to your state- but that’s a whole other blog!)

6. Will you home school your children through high school?

We pray about homeschooling one year at a time! Continuing through high school will require utilizing more resources, whether it be the public school or homeschooling co-ops. There are so many options and such amazing curriculum to get us through these years should we choose to do so. Again, one year at a time! This is something that might look different year to year or child to child.

7. Do YOU take classes?

Great question! My degree is in Elementary Education – and it helps. But statistics show that even those homeschooling families with parents with no college degrees are outtesting public school children with parents with 4 year degrees. How is this possible?

I firmly feel it is the different dynamic that is homeschooling. We all delve in together. There are times I don’t know the answer – and so we work as a team to find it.

The advice that has most helped me in this journey is that there WILL be gaps in my teaching. There are gaps in every school system whether it be homeschooling, public or private school. Our job is to teach children how to learn. I don’t know the answer? Fine, then we dive in, research and find it together.

James and I do attend homeschooling conferences each year. And I read – constantly (James would say relentlessly!) It is important to stay educated and on top of the game!

8. Do you home school because you’re religious?

I don’t care for the term religious to be honest. Our relationship with Christ, individually and as a family is very important to us.

It is an amazing opportunity to be able to approach problem solving and day-to-day conflict with a faith-based approach and to intersperse our day with prayer and biblical principles.

We teach our children our worldview, and we teach creationism. But yes, we also tell them about other worldviews they will encounter, and we teach them what the evolution theory is.

“Doing life” with an eternal perspective is as natural to us as breathing. And we are grateful for the freedom to do so!

9.  You know you can’t protect your kids from everything, right?

Absolutely. In fact, our goal in homeschooling our kids, is giving them a firm foundation to be ready for all life will throw at them – good and bad. We believe in exposing our kids to full, rich, appropriate life experiences.

No bubble wrapped toddlers here!

10. So do you think everyone should home school their children?

No. No, I do not. This is the path we’ve been given, chosen, however you look at it. And I love my crazy, chaotic (beautiful!) life. But that doesn’t mean it’s what your crazy, chaotic, beautiful life should look like.

In fact – whether you home school your kids, send your tots to public school or private school – we all have one thing in common. We are doing the best we can in this crazy journey called parenting. And we could all use a little encouragement along the way. So from me to you – happy parenting!!

 

Meet My Cast of Characters

Meet My Cast of Characters

Gracie – my sweet, gracious ten year old. She far exceeds her mama in the maturity and wisdom department. Her dry wit gets me every single time. Jimmy – my quirky, analytical seven year old to whom life is clearly defined in black and white. […]