Monday, October 2, 2017

Living in Fear

This year has been full of so many terrifying things....hurricanes wiping entire cities off of their feet... tragic pointless shootings taking lives in the blink of an eye at schools, movie theaters, malls, concerts, and even churches.  Is nothing safe? Is any location or activity out of harm's way?  What are we to do to protect ourselves???

My first reaction today at the news of Las Vegas, my hometown, was No Concerts EVER!!! But now I sit back, breathe, and pray.  I'm reminded of the encouraging words of Paul, "For God did not give us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."  This spirit of fearfulness and doubt is not what we are called to do.  Jesus himself warned us that we should "not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."  I'm not supposed to instill in my children (or myself for that matter) a fear of all the things that can go wrong.  I shouldn't hide away fearing what could and might happen.  Yes, I can exercise caution, but not fearfulness.  Not fearfulness when there is power, love and sound mind.

As we drove through town this evening, my son asked me what event caused the flags to be at half mast.  I explained about the heartbreaking sadness of evil taking the lives of the innocent and how the whole nation is mourning for them.  In my reflections on the pointless loss and pain,  the rest of Jesus' warning came to mind, "Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell."  The true evil one is out there, disguised in many ways, searching whom he can devour.  And yet, when he attacks, when his victims fall, often we don't mourn for them.  We don't put up an outward show of flags at half mast for another soul who has fallen prey or weep because a life is no longer thriving.  How would we react if every time we fell to his evils, everyone heard...everyone mourned?  How would we feel if each time we slipped, everyone prayed for our lost life, prayed for another chance for us...for more time?  Wouldn't we live more cautiously?  Wouldn't we be looking out, living, but being more on guard, full of caution?

I mourn for all of these losses of life in both the body and the spirit.  My heart and my prayers ache for them and their families.  May God continue to give us strength in this world and the one to come.  And may we each put on the full armor of God as we face the true fear that is out there.

Friday, September 29, 2017

20 Things I Learned From My Grandmas

 Oh, how I miss my grandmothers!  They left my life way too soon.  I feel like if they were here now, I would treasure them more than I ever did before in all my years put together.  Even though they are gone from this world, those beautiful women left their mark on me.  In the short years they were here being an active vital part of my life, they taught me things that will be with me forever.

I could probably write books on their fascinating honorable lives, but here is a sampling of their lessons I carry with me daily.

1. The journey of the treasure hunt is even more memorable than the found treasure.

2. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are great for your smile.

3. It's not about eating the taffy, it's about the fun in pulling the taffy together as a family.

4. Shoes can make you feel pretty and they help to dress up any outfit.

5.  Playing on the floor is how you build the foundation of communication for many years to come.

6.  Handwritten letters send a piece of yourself to your loved ones that they will read, stare at, smell, and hold close to their hearts.

7.  Teasing your hair actually has a purpose - finally volume!

8. Always find the humor, even if you've heard the story one zillion times.

9.  Pulling out the good china isn't just for holidays.

10.  Have essential ingredients always on hand for a quick and easy meal.  This way you will be able
to open your home to others whenever needed.

11.  Hugging makes everyone feel better.  Look for those who need one.

12.  Forgiveness and silence at the right moments bring survival and peace.

13. Have a nightly set apart time for your favorite show or delicious book so that all day you can look forward to it.

14.  Putting God first sets an example for generations, even if you think no one is noticing.

15.  Knowing someone's favorite food/drink and having it available when they come to visit shows them your love, forethought, and how special they are to your heart.

16.  Outward beauty takes work, upkeep, and practice.  Inward beauty takes even more work, upkeep, and practice.

17.  There's no such thing as a stranger; speak to everyone with love, knowing they are actual people with souls and lives of their own.  We are all children of God.

18. Demonstrate true love and concern for others by listening when spoken to.  Then remember it, and follow up; show them that what they confided in you matters.

19. Share your stories and history as much as you can, for it will be missed and longed for when you cannot.

20.  Never stop voicing your love.  Hearing you are loved never gets old.

ADDENDUM: In looking for these pictures of my grandmothers, I realized they were SO young! And my mother was even YOUNGER than I am now.  Wow!  It made me realize my legacy has already begun.  May the eyes who are watching my daily moves see even a fraction of the good that I saw in my godly mother and grandmothers.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Welcome, please come in. Just don't look in there, or in there, or behind that door, or perhaps you can just close your eyes...

Last night as I walked through my house, I noticed that there truly was no single clean spot anywhere.  My kitchen counters were cluttered with the randomness of items dropped off in the rush of entering and exiting the house.  My den was blanketed in the crumbs and residue cup rings from our family night dinner and a movie.  My living room was littered with toys of play battles, play kitchen, Chinese Checkers, and other items dropped and forgotten.  The stairs...yep, even the stairs...had tons of stored up items on the steps ready to bring up later, but still sitting there waiting.  Then I seriously had to gulp down my humiliation as I walked into the upstairs restroom that the kids use in the rush of getting ready for bed.  Out loud, I literally said to myself, "Your mother would NEVER have allowed this!"

I tried to comfort myself with the liberating thought that maybe, just maybe, the phrase "cleanliness is next to godliness" might actually mean that if you teach them godliness, then cleanliness will eventually Right?!

You may judge me thinking that I have enough kids that they should have those responsibilities, and you'd be right...they do.

You might suggest a plan on how I could manage the pick up of my home in a better manner, and you'd be right....I normally do.

Believe me that I judge myself harsher than anyone else possibly could.  But then I walked into the dark bedroom and saw my darlings sleeping without a care, knowing that they are loved and treasured. 
And here's what I remembered from Ecclesiastes 3...  "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...He has made everything beautiful in it's time.  There is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil-this is God's gift to man."

There is a time to clean, do chores, purge, scrub, and make perfect.  But there is also a time to relax and enjoy.

There is a time in my life where my house will not be pristine, orderly, and spotless.  But there will also be a time when it will be decluttered of toys, sticky fingerprints, leftover cups, and will appear vacuumed, dusted, and sorted.

While I am in this particular time, perhaps I can eat, drink, and take pleasure in my toil as a momma.  I can focus on this "gift" that God has given me.  I can focus on the "why" of the mess, that here are five children playing, learning to do good, loving, and living.  Perhaps kids' messes here and there are much more tolerable than my incessant reign of terror on them "knowing better."

May my kiddos remember the love of God and Mom, and may I remember this time is truly a gift.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Blessing Rock

About a month ago, one of my daughters and her friend placed Blessing Rocks that they had painted with words like Love, Joy, and Hope in a few neighbors' mailboxes.  It was a tiny gesture that they hoped would brighten someone's day.  We never heard anything or knew their reactions...until yesterday.

Yesterday, a note was left on our neighborhood networking site.  This is what it said,
"I want to thank whoever it was that put the small blue-painted rock in our mailbox with the word JOY on it.  You have no idea what a blessing it was for me the day I found it.  I was just coming back from an MRI and was still very scared about what the test would show.  I felt that God had sent me a visible sign of His love and support through the thoughtful hands of an earthly angel.  My diagnosis was life changing, but I already felt the love and hope and joy supporting me in so many ways.  The message on the rock has helped me experience more fully the joy in many of the lighter moments over the past few weeks:  the kindness of nurses, the unexpected visit from co-workers, flowers from far away, messages of love and support from students.  There have been some really heavy, hard moments too, but in them were friends and loved ones who cared for me, physically, emotionally and spiritually, friends who sat and held me through even harder news.  That joy might have been harder, even impossible, to see and feel without the small blue Joy blessing that went with me to the hospital and stays close with me now.  So whoever you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You have helped me through one of the hardest times of my life with your blessing rock.  May God bless you and yours now and always." 

What an amazing God watches over us!  We never know how He will use us.  To take such a tiny, simple thing and turn it into a comfort and hope for a hurting soul brings me to my knees.  I'm thankful for this reminder to me and to my children on how our actions, big or small, reach out and touch others in ways we may never know.  May He open our eyes to seize the moments we can let our lights shine and share his Joy.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Current Prejudice

In this day and age it is shocking to me that there is still so much prejudice against minorities.   I am not referring to the racial discrimination that our forefathers fought to bring to equality, or the sexual discrimination that our foremothers stomped down to lift women up. I am referring to the discrimination that is occurring right here in our own backyards...that of the homeschooler.  

We, as a society, may think we are living a cutting edge life of equality as we welcome all races to sit at the same tables, hire all sexes for positions across establishments,  and even turn blind eyes to those who wish to cross barriers of natural orientation, but a small group amongst us continues to be received with contempt and ignorance.  Homeschoolers.

When I started homeschooling my children, there were small pockets of other homeschoolers that we came across here and there, but chances were slim and far between that our paths would cross.  Now, there are innumerable curriculums, cooperatives, classes, clubs, field trips, societies, graduations, sports teams, and the list goes on and on.  Yet, we, as homeschoolers, are still looked on as odd...misfits...different.

Sure there are some who fit the common picture of an odd homeschooler, but we are all individuals, not a massed unit.  We are all different from each other, just like you.  We may choose to educate differently.  We may choose to study in ways that you don't.  But we are still people.  We still have feelings.

When raising a homeschooler, we know that our children will be tried in ways that we ourselves were not.  Knowledgable and influential adults will ask them leading agenda-filled questions about socialization, education, and responsibility that we as parents might even struggle to answer intelligently. They will be laughed at, joked about, and singled out by peers and even adults, because their parents made this different choice.  They will have to be taught to ignore prejudice, to grow in character, and to have a thick skin reflecting on how God loves them and accepts them even when others fail to do so.

When I chose to homeschool, I, in all honesty, did not realize that I would face these criticisms.  I didn't realize that family members may take years to realize the advantages of this lifestyle, that friends would drift away because of the choice, that those I met would instantly label me as different and look at me as though I suddenly morphed into a creature from another planet.  I certainly did not realize that my children would be the pioneers paving the way and educating others that homeschoolers are not freaks but are families striving to educate in a way that they think best for their own particular family unit.

I do not judge those who choose not to homeschool.  I believe much good can come from a public or private school.  Not only was I brought up in the public school system, but I taught there for many years.  It blessed me in more ways than I can even acknowledge.   In fact, I may not continue to homeschool my children forever.  Our family takes it a year at a time, praying, talking, and deciding what would bring about the greatest spiritual encouragement for our children at this particular time. My point is not at all to say that homeschooling is the answer, because frankly, in all cases, it is not.  

My point is this...
Please take a moment to pray for all of our kiddoes, no matter which way we choose to educate them.  Lift them up. Encourage them.  Make their way a little easier by acknowledging that they are precious souls sent here to do a mission that God has designed specifically for them.  Remind them that they can be who God wants them to be regardless of where they do their schoolwork.  And let them know that we love each and every one of them, no matter what!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Precious Moments Hidden in the Chaos

In a season of life where sleep is lacking, children are bickering, and baby is continually crying, I find myself desperately searching for the precious moments.  Deep down, I know that my years are filled with them; in fact, I know for a fact, that each day is filled with them.  Yet, lately, its hard to see through all the messes, and listen through all of the static to be aware that they are in my grasp and happening all around me.
I find myself in a season that five years ago, I never would have imagined.  I've discovered that I'm not Wonder Woman (although don't tell my sister, because she still thinks that I am;-) or the Baby Whisperer...seriously, I'm not even the example homeschool mom with perfect-test-scoring children or daily healthy home-cooked meals on the table.  I am a fabulously flawed woman who clings to what I know is most important, regardless of the noise.  
The Lord is faithful and He will reward those who seek after Him.
If my kids learn nothing else, they will know that there is a God who loves them and loves their mother.  They will see that when their mom falls down,  she seeks out the One who can pick her up.  They will experience the frustrations and infuriation of this life with me, but they will also experience the joy and love.  They will know that I love them with a constant faithful love, and that I will, just like my Father, be there to help them up, if only they will seek what is right.
At the end of the day, in that brief moment when my head touches the pillow before the baby... or the dog... or the teen seeks me out, I remember and thank God for the precious moments.  There were many, even in the chaos.  We are blessed!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Facebook Envy

More and more I hear the term, "Facebook Envy."  It's basically a specific reference to that not so good self-doubting feeling of catching the happy-ever-after glimpse into other people's lives.  Even if you are not a Facebook junkie, I'm sure you've experienced the sting by witnessing the side of people that they want you to see.  Perhaps you've encountered it when you see that totally put-together family sitting a few pews ahead of you, or those madly in-love parents having a quality conversation with their laughing  children two tables over at the restaurant.  Today, I am reminding myself that there is another side!

Yes, there will be families that seem to have it together better than I do. And yes, there will be mothers exercising the patience of Job when the same situation may have put me over the edge of insanity. BUT we are all human.  We all have our struggles.  Sometimes those struggles are just more hidden, behind doors and not posted on Facebook for me to see.

It's funny! When I had my older four, and Little Man was out of the tantrum stage, I felt like the mommy expert. I could trust my kiddos to go play in the other room and know they'd behave.  I could run with all four through the grocery store in record time, and come out with my list complete and a smile still on my face.

Then I had Baby Girl. 

She brings us laughter and cuddles and loads of joy, BUT she also brings me back off my pedestal.  She reminds me what a frazzled mama looks like.  She reminds me how I am not in control and how each stage of parenthood brings its own challenges.  She also reminds me that these sleepless nights and tears over who-knows-what will all too quickly pass (although on some things I wish faster than others).  I'll survive this stage, even if it may not always be pretty and "Facebook worthy."

God does not call us to be as perfect as the people beside us.  He doesn't tell us to compare ourselves to each other, but to His Son. He knows that we are all flawed in our own unique ways.  He knows that He is the only true one to which we should compare and measure. He gives us each other so that we can learn from and encourage each other, not compare and beat ourselves up over.

Next time I see those happy-go-lucky pictures of someone who seems to have it all together and doing a better job at it than I am, I will try to remember that we are all in this together, having our own moments of joy and struggle, and only with Him can we get it right.  So pat a  friend on the back, give her a compliment, share a "When I was in your stage..." story, and together let's point each other closer to our Goal.