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. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

"This is Why!"

I'm forever seeing God and His works around me.  Often times, I see it in the small everyday things, like these spacious Texas skies, the healing of baby's runny nose, or the sparkle in my children's eyes.  But yesterday I saw it blaring loud, staring me smack dab in the face....you know, the kind of act where chill bumps travel down your spine and every hair on your arm stands straight up.
Yesterday was much like every other day, full of school, mothering, and errand-running all over town.  Because of a rare consignment sale being open, I decided we would squeeze a shopping trip into an already jam-packed morning.  Happily, we raced to get in the van, and paused like we always do when I drive, to say a prayer for safety and thanksgiving (and also forgiveness for crabbiness, but I'll save that for another post ;-).  We zipped through the sale, got in line with even a few minutes to spare to get Big Sister to her class on time.  That's when all of my planning and clocking went down the drain.  With only one person in front of me, with only a few items in her hands, the minutes slowly ticked by...5 minutes, 10 minutes...It made absolutely NO sense!  I began to steam and tap my foot.  Finally it was my turn, I gave the keys to the kids, told them to go get buckled, and we were going to fly out of here as soon as I checked out.  And then, another 5 minutes clicked by as the credit card machine decided to fail over and over again.  Finally, 15 minutes behind schedule, we were loaded in the van and screeching out of the lot.  (Okay, maybe not screeching...I do try to be extra safe behind the wheel).
I told the kids I was sorry it took so long, and explained that I had absolutely no explanation for that long of a check out.  I reiterated, as I sometimes do during disappointments,  that I don't know why these things happen sometimes, but perhaps there is an unknown reason and we should try to make the best of it.  Then, 12 minutes down the road, God showed me.
Flashing lights and sirens blocked my way.  Shattered, tangled, and mangled vehicles were tossed here and there in every direction in the middle of the intersection.  First responders were just arriving on the scene.  And tears streamed down my face as I turned to look at my five precious sets of wide eyed babies, still alive.  "This is why!" echoed the passengers in my van.
Oh, how we prayed and thanked our good Father for stalling that line, for blocking that credit card machine, and for saving us to be here witnessing of Him yet another day.  We prayed for those in the accident, who were thankfully okay, knowing that had we been there at that moment of collision, it would be a very different story for each of us.
May the God of us all, who sees beyond the moment, continue to open our eyes to his power and might.  And may I be a testimony to my little ones to point it out again and again.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Don't Cry over Spilled Tea

Oh, to be a mom filled with patience and kindness...a mom who takes each stressful moment and turns it into a training experience for her children where it happily ends in hugs and love and joy all around.  At the end of the day, when I lay my head on my pillow and go over all of those tense moments of the day when I should have breathed first before reacting,  or had a soft answer instead of harsh, I pray for the calm and wisdom to seize the day and touch these hearts entrusted to me.

After reading another mother's experience with a dropped cake, I hid her lesson in my heart and promised myself that I, too, could react in love.  Little did I know that the Lord had heard my vow and would put me to the test.

On this particular "teaching me" Sunday,  we were hosting a large lunch with many guests after worship services.  Being the planner that I am and knowing that chaos is always at it's peak on a rushed Sunday morning, I'd already done the cleaning, the setting of tables, the list of what to pull out after church, and even had the dinner in the crockpot.  I was feeling on top of things, which is a rarity now that #5 has joined the crew.  The kids were dressed, the Bibles were gathered, and that's when my eldest decided to be helpful.  To help get her brother's milk from the fridge, she gingerly reached around the full gallon of sweet tea on the top shelf of the refrigerator.  It was one of those moments where time stands still as everyone watches helplessly as the fast falling pitcher dropped from the shelf, poured it's contents over every shelf of the refrigerator, seeped through the rug, pooled an inch deep of sticky brown puddles across the freshly mopped floor, and proceeded to flood into the pantry soaking every item in it's wake...a moment that she, nor I, will ever forget.  My normal reaction would be to yell, cry, question her barbaric actions, and storm about madly, while frantically cleaning, raging, and questioning, "Why, dear Lord? Why?!?!"  But this day, this blessed day, I actually rose to the challenge.  Before her face could even fall and the tears begin to burst from her eyes, I grabbed her in a hug and told her it was all okay.  I assured her that it was a mess that was easily cleaned and a gallon simply remade.  I reminded her that I make mistakes all of the time and it could have easily happened to me.  And I thanked her!  What a wonderful daughter I have, who would volunteer to help to try and ease my load.  She is a constant blessing to me, and I never want her to forget that.

Our Father is so good to take us in His arms time and again, whether it be our accidental slip or a failure we've done for the hundredth time.  I'm thankful that He allowed me another chance to finally get it right, and I'm prayerful that His reminder will play in my head the next time this challenge arises...which knowing my family, may be before this post even makes it to save.
I may not always get this mama-thing done right, but thank the Lord for friends' encouragement and clumsy children that provide me with lots of chances.





Friday, October 17, 2014

Bullying Unaware

In today's hyper-sensitive awareness to bullying, it surprises me how much I see it happening daily.  I think we are all very aware of the bullying that occurs when words are used to tear each other down, or when actions are used to make someone feel bad about themselves.  The bullying I am talking about is that of absence - an absence of inclusion, an absence of caring, an absence of reaching out.

We've all been in situations where we feel excluded.  It may be as simple as being left out of a conversation, or feeling awkward in a room where everyone else seems to be in on something you are not, or even just feeling like you are present but everyone else seems to think you are invisible.  Putting it simply - It's not a good feeling!

What makes the difference in a circumstance like that?  All of us know, because all of us have been rescued by some sweet, caring soul who has reached out.  He/she took a moment to acknowledge our presence, to come say something/anything, to let us know that we were noticed and wanted. It sounds easy enough, yet it takes awareness.  It takes effort to notice someone feeling this way, and commit to making it different for them.

We often hear the story of the Good Samaritan and we wag our heads in disbelief.  How could that priest or the child of God, Levite walk by...completely ignoring, pretending not to see or have the time to help?  Yet, how many times have we sat in our seats, knowing there was someone who needed a "hello" or conversed in a room full of people and been too busy to reach out to the uncomfortable.  This omission of kindness should shame us.

I've been on both sides of this. I've been the one feeling ostracized and I've been the one too wrapped up in myself and my conversation to go out of the way for someone hurting.  I've also seen it happening to my own children.  I don't like it, and I'd love to rescue them from it, but it is true that character can be built and trained from uncomfortable circumstances such as this.  Instead of fueling their hurt and anxiety from being left out or uninvited, I try to encourage them to be that much more aware of others struggling with the same feelings and learn to reach out, to remember how it felt when they were the one and to make it their mission to rescue a kindred spirit.  If only we can take a second to look around a room, it is obvious who needs our attention.  It may not be in our comfort-zone to go sit with them, or invite them over, but every single bit helps and the more we do it, the more comfortable we will be with it.

Please take a moment to think of those who are looking over with longing eyes, reach out to them in even the tiniest of ways.  It won't only help them feel better, but you may make an amazing friendship you would have completely missed out on.  Yes, enjoy your friends, fellowship with your brothers and sisters, but welcome others (even if you don't think they want it); it can only do good.