Where is the Road?

“A man who walks by the side of the road can turn himself around…he can pick himself up and dust himself off, and start all over again…” (Kenny Rogers).

Ok, so October was a month full of issues for me and my computer was not to be left out of that series of events.  I’ve been a bit absent because, though my fingers have been aching to hit the keys, my computer apparently was not missing the pounding my fingers gave said keys and refused to cooperate! (Note: I began writing this before I wrote my post-election post, but am just now publishing…sorry). Hopefully, it is better now and soon, perhaps, I can take it into the computer doctor for a check-up!  Until then, I will just have to plug away as she allows and hope for the best (and get a hand cramp using old fashioned pen and paper should the worst occur)!

ANYWAYS, so ya, October was rough.  I had some issues accepting the turn of events because our hearts are being led one way while our brains were told something else.  SO alas, we wait for God…for His righteous right hand to guide us and lead us in His time, not ours.  Patience is a Fruit of the Spirit that we (collectively…yes all of us) rarely produce.

So let’s talk about roads.  Amazing things can happen on roads.  I love songs and poems about roads!  There is David Lee Murphy who sings about coming back down the road you leave behind you, there is one of my all-time favorite country duos, Brooks and Dunn, who sing about all that can be learned on a red dirt road, and we can’t forget Frost who speaks of the road less traveled and how it can make all the difference.  Roads are significant in our culture and have been since…oh, well, probably since roads were first made.

Roads signify change, moving forward, the future, and even trust.  One of the most significant roads in history is the Road to Damascus and the story of [P]Saul on that road.  If you aren’t familiar, I am going to paraphrase the story in my own words, but you can find the story in your Bible in Acts chapter 9.
So, Saul is really this pretty mean guy who persecutes Christians to the fullest extent of the law (and probably beyond)…we are talking beating them, imprisoning them, and even killing them.  He was rough.  One day Saul was walking along nearing Damascus and searching for Christians and disciples to take as prisoners when a light blinded him and he heard a voice asking why he was persecuting “me” (that’s Jesus).  Saul was like “I don’t know you” and Jesus is like, “well, you are persecuting me, now go to the city and you will be given more instructions”.  Now, Saul wasn’t alone but the other guys with him were obviously rendered speechless, I mean, what do you say when the presence of the actual living God is before you, right!?

So Saul goes into the town, he was blinded by the way and didn’t eat or drink during this time, so he goes into town (being led by those guys I spoke of earlier) and meets Ananias whom the Lord had already spoken to.  God told Ananias that this guy from Tarsus was coming and that it was Saul and that He gave Saul a vision to see and speak to Ananias to get his sight back.  Now, Ananias has heard of Saul…what do you think he said.  He’s like, “Lord, please, this guy is bad news and I don’t want to die” but the Lord is like “This is my work, so just do it and quit being afraid because I am God.  This guy is going to have his heart changed and is going to end up suffering for me.  Don’t argue”

So, of course Ananias does what he is told, because who really says “no” to God, right?  He heals Saul and sees Saul get filled with the Holy Spirit…then Saul got baptized and ate and drank and got strong again so he could do God’s work now.  Ok, so remember, Saul is a Roman citizen turned Christian…he is now gonna be in BIG trouble with the Romans!  BUT, guess what else, the Jews (of which he has now left) got mad at him and tried to kill him because he was spreading the Word of God around Damascus and proving that Jesus was the Christ.  So, Saul escapes and gets to Jerusalem but the disciples are afraid of him until Barnabas takes him in.  Barnabas tells the disciples to chill out because Saul is good people and how the Jews in Damascus tried to kill him for preaching about Jesus.  So, thus we have the story of Saul’s road to Damascus; the road that not only changed his life, but the lives of thousands of others and the course of history.

So you see, roads can be pretty important, whether they are asphalt and literal or ideas and figurative.  So friends, there is something good about roads whether they are literal or figurative; they go two ways.  Now, I know streets can be one way, but technically you can walk or drive either way if you choose, right?  So, roads can run two ways, they can have forks, four way stops, roundabouts, on ramps, and yield signs too.  My great and deep thought-provoking question for this post is, how do we determine whether to continue forward, merge, turn, or go back?  I mean, God isn’t going to physically meet us on the road as he did for Paul and blind us for three days until we get it right.  Of course, Paul (or Saul, same guy) didn’t have the entire Bible then as we do now either.

So we took this road recently, and there is this road block.  We know what we feel God is telling us to do, we just can’t figure out how to get there or how to get a clear picture of where He is sending us or what exactly He is telling us to do.  It’s so…well, to be quite honest, it’s frustrating!  I mean, do you think Paul was frustrated just a little, maybe, over the three days that he was blinded?  He had NO IDEA where he was going, what he was doing, he had to fully rely on a few guys to get him where they said he was going AND he had to rely on a God he didn’t even know before he was blinded to guide these guys who were not believers to the place God was sending them.  Did you catch all that…I know it was a run on, but I would have said it that way, so I typed it that way (in my mind I stress certain points and they go on and on…I wish you could hear me speak sometimes LOL!).  This guy had to blindly follow God.  And apparently, so do we sometimes (well, many times, actually).

Have you ever really done that, friends?  I mean really.  Have you ever just closed your eyes and said “ok God, send me on Your way”.  Well, we did that and there is a road block.  Now we don’t know if we were supposed to turn somewhere or take a different on ramp or if we are simply supposed to be yielding (that is waiting our turn).  What I do know is that we have made a commitment to follow Him, so that is what we will do.

Roads can be scary.  Sometimes it is a dark mountain road and you’re driving in the late hours in the rain and take an off ramp by accident (that’s for you MMG) and sometimes the sun is shining bright and your way is completely uninhibited.  There are no obstructions, just a clear and simple path to take.  There are potholes and bridges that are really scary and construction.  No matter what happens, though, there is a way.
The Word is quite clear and these verses give me much hope in this time of confusion:
“Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:20-21 NIV).

This voice is the Spirit.  We will let Him guide us.  We will listen to His instructions, though right now they seem muted. Just because we went down the road and hit a block, doesn’t mean it isn’t our path.  Just because OUR plans changed doesn’t mean He changed HIS plans. Roads run TWO ways, our way, and His way.  Find His way; when you are blinded, pray and be patient and find His way.  That’s my wise advice, now I have to take it;).

Pondering Politics

Just a quick note-this is a picture of my family after we voted.  You can just barely see Myrah’s head over my shoulder.  My sticker was covered by Noah’s head and Scott’s covered by Myrah’s jacket lol, but here it is!  Lessons were learned and fun was had…and we were in and out quickly!

So here goes probably the only political post you will see from me, for at least the next four years anyway.

Ok, so here’s the deal in black and white (and, of course, in my very humble opinion). When Obama was voted in, a ton of people were up in arms about it and I told them that even if they do not like the president, they should still respect the office. Think of all those times your mom or dad made you mad or annoyed you, you may not have liked them, but you still should have respected their position.

So, of course, I am going to say the exact same about Trump. I will NEVER share who my votes were for in either election, but I can tell you that Obama was not my first choice in two elections, and Trump was not my first choice in this election. Neither of these men took stands that represent my personal beliefs on many issues, but here we are. If you want my honest opinion for this election in particular, we the people lost our best choices when we didn’t push them through in the primaries, (we really had some decent candidates back then, remember?) but that’s neither here nor there.

SO, I know there are conspiracy theorists and I KNOW the American system is NOT the best, but one thing I have seen proven in our government is the system of checks and balances that keeps control out of the hands of one person so we do not fall to tyranny. Whether or not you like the president-elect, try to have faith in this system. Pray that the system works so that any nonsensical plans do not get pushed through, but the things that truly do make America great will be brought to light or kept in place. Pray that our elected leaders (Senate, House, Justices, etc.) will stand firm in what is right and best for the people whether it is foreign policy, education, or health care.

Teach your children the history of the United States whether you are a home educator or they attend public school. Teach them the words written in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Teach them WHY the people chose to immigrate here and write these documents. Teach them the trials some groups of people had to overcome to get the right to actually vote and have a voice in this country. Teach them about the men and women who have fought and literally died to protect the rights of this country to have a voting system and democratic republic. We have that, guys. A democracy is a form of government where the power lies with its citizens who elect representatives. A republic is a sovereign state whose ultimate power rests in its citizens who elect representatives. (It is also a constitutional republic…the semantics go very deep).

Teach your children what the Electoral College is and why their vote matters, but stop teaching hate. We are teaching hate with our words and actions! Do this now, guys, because tomorrow will be too late. If you don’t like what is going on, help change it, but don’t lay the responsibility of educating your children about the workings of the government on another, take time to do it yourself so you KNOW they learn it correctly. Teach them it is ok to disagree but, for goodness sake, that there is no sense in tearing another down. And if you choose to be uneducated or not to vote, don’t complain and remember you are teaching your kids that it’s acceptable to not use your voice (I am a firm believer in voting, can ya tell?).

Finally, can’t we all just get along? I know that sounds preposterous, but when I look on social media and see the gloating and insulting of one party and the shame of defeat and insulting from another party it just seems gross. Everyone is being so ugly and mean! Of COURSE the world is scoffing at us, we are all being hateful! What if the whole point; the grand scheme of this election was just to divide us further!? Let us all, every American citizen, unite and take a stand against division. Let’s follow the words of our pledge and, when we recite that we are “one nation under God, indivisible”, let’s actually be one nation under God and indivisible! Our country looks weak and silly from the outside; we are divided among race and gender and even lifestyle choice, but what if we weren’t?

What if we lived our lives in peace with everyone so far as it depends on us? Christians, are we not called to do this? And no, I am not taking this out of context.  I KNOW we are to confront our brothers and sisters in love when they sin, and I KNOW we are to first examine our own hearts and be blameless so we are not hypocritical when we do this.  I also KNOW we are called to love the least. We are divided, America, and the fault really lies with us.

We have allowed a few to dictate the beliefs of many. Who has decided to make America the land of rampant racism again? Who has decided to make America the land of division among men and women again? Who has decided that one group of people is better than another again?  Friends, we have! We have made these choices. We have collectively made the choice to believe lies and fall prey to the enemy which has resulted in division.

I don’t care who you voted for, it isn’t my business, (there’s a reason we are taught not to share, I happen to like having friends…HA!)  just as who I voted for isn’t your business. But it isn’t the elected that is the problem at this moment, it is us. Let’s quit allowing this division and remember to love one another again. Let’s be an example to our leaders. Remember that we are to love our Lord with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves. Christians, we are NOT doing this. There is much division even among believers!

Friends, let’s write in the sand and let us not be the Pharisees. Let us respect the office of the president without sewing discord among ourselves. Let us unite and be strong and courageous, and let us have faith that God is in control and that the system of checks and balances our forefathers put in place will work in our favor.

Whether you were for or against Trump, the reality is that he is our president-elect. History is made, it is done.  We can either unite and flourish or we can continue to be divided and flounder, the choice is ours. Let’s not lose our friends and loved ones because of it. If you got annoyed when people talked bad about Obama, remember that feeling when you talk bad about Trump. Treat others how you want to be treated, not how you were treated ;).

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:9-18 NIV).

Remember, these are my opinions, I do my best to stay neutral. I also do my best not to insult others for their opinions and would appreciate not being insulted for mine.  If you have a strong opinion, I have no problem with it, however, please email me directly with any comments of a negative nature and we can talk.  I don’t have an issue talking, but I won’t allow my posts or page to be turned into a political tear down session of other people. Let’s build each other up in love.

A Closed Door

Ahhhh…my keyboard.  I have been so busy lately I have not been able to peck away at these keys and I forgot how therapeutic it is for me.  It feels marvelous…and I need marvelous right now.  I can’t sleep; today was a bit emotional (HA…that is an understatement for me, I know!).

Ok, so first let me just say, God does NOT always use us in the way we THINK He is going to and I learned that fact today in a way I never thought I would know.

Some back story is required because many have no earthly idea what I am talking about!

SO, back in about August I was browsing good ole Indeed (a job site) and put out my resume.  It was bravery at its finest!  (I kid).  Anyway, I got a response from this great church in Northern Michigan…a beautiful church in a beautiful place full of what we found to be beautiful people.  SO I get an email, a few phone interviews, a couple video interviews, THEN these wonderful people pay for me and Scott to go up there and check things out (and have an IRL interview of course).  This is probably the most exciting and scary thing I have ever taken a chance on, and God was talkin loud so I had to listen.

We go up to this gorgeous place with these great people in the amazing church and just hit it off with all of them.  Seriously.  Neither Scott nor I have ever felt so comfortable…so at home with a group of people we have never met.  And we were getting grilled for real…like a grand inquisition!  But it all felt right…mostly.

On Sunday I was getting a tour of the children’s department from this beautiful soul and she seemed so much like me in the way she loved what she was doing.  She seemed like she was relishing in the delight of teaching children and leading them; she was working with those who were working with the children…it was meshing.  SO (because God is kinda funny this way sometimes I guess) I had to ask her why she didn’t take the job.  THIS could have been my down fall, but I still don’t regret anything.

She told me her story and it is a story that was similar in ways to my own story except she was on the opposite side that I was on.  Her best friend left the church and she was so convicted by this.  I felt her heart break as my own, and I don’t say this lightly.  I have been the one who had to leave, I know very well the feeling of the other person, but here I was feeling the pain of the one who stayed.  We all have to follow where He leads, but for some reason I felt the conviction of this girl fully on my own heart.  So much so that I brought it up in the meeting Scott and I had with two of the pastors the next day…like I said this could have been my undoing…but I stand behind always being honest even when it doesn’t go the way I wanted it to…even when it hurts.

Fast-forward to today…I get a call from them telling me that, though she and they thought she wasn’t the person for the job, turns out she was running away (Jonah!) from God’s call and she feels a conviction to give it a shot.  Before I go on, I want to say that though this was so hard for me to hear because my heart is there, I am so proud of this girl.  The position she has put herself in is a vulnerable one and she could possibly lose her best friend over it, so I know she does not take this lightly.  If you ever read this sweet sister in Christ, please know that I really and truly am proud of you.  Often listening to God’s call makes our personal lives sticky…I know, girl.  I have literally been there, and it is hard.  I have no bad feelings toward you or anyone at the church, and I am proud of all of you for following your convictions.

But, ya, bummer for me, though!  Now I am sitting here late this night and wondering what in the world God is asking me to do.  We do feel the call to this place, we know God has plans for us, but what are they?  Why would he send us on this LONG journey just to have us stay where we are?  Is there a place for us here and if so, how do we discern this (how fitting that right now in my personal Bible reading I am in I Kings…I JUST read tonight about Solomon asking for wisdom!)?  I mean, I gotta tell you guys, the path to Michigan seemed so ready and steady and straight that this has really shaken me a bit.  I was convicted when this person told me her feelings, but was also assured that they knew it wasn’t her job…that it wasn’t where God was sending her.  Obviously convictions change…so where do we go from here?

I always hear people say that “when God closes a door he always opens a window” and other “inspirational” things, but have you ever had the door slammed in your face?  And really, who wants to crawl through a window?  (I am really speaking in jest, but seriously).  I gotta ask ya, the way we felt up there, the people we connected with…what was the reason if not to lead us there?  God places people in paths for His reasons…did he REALLY fly us across the country for the Spirit to convict someone that she was running away?  Did we really meet all those amazing people once to never see them again?  I mean, the guys who drew lots on the boat with Jonah were already on the boat…already on their way!  This was foreign to us!

So…what is meant for us and does it involve this particular church.  I pictured a future for us there…I pictured the people, the place; all of it because it felt real, but now it isn’t.  And now I am a little lost.  If I am being honest, I did struggle very much with the final decision to leave Oklahoma because I love my family and this is familiar and comfortable, but at supper one night in Michigan someone much wiser than I reminded me that God often calls people away from their comforts (more specifically their families).  It would be a piece of cake to continue to minister in my comfort zone, too easy some might say.  So this change of events He brought about has me so very confused.

If I seem a jumbled mess it is because I really am right now!  It is late and the day has been LOOOOONG!  But I am so curious now.  We still feel our hearts there, so what is it pulling us?  This seemed so right, but wasn’t…what else could it be?  The way things played out really appeared from this side as though God was literally going to pick us up and carry us there whether we agreed or not (LOL…he really does that you all)!  I knew whatever path we took would be difficult after I met the people we met there but I was truly unprepared for how I felt after the call today…I think I felt just as sad as I did when I told my family I was probably GOING to move…and to top it off I kind of feel like I let my family down, though they don’t think that, that is just my wonderful humanity shining bright!

So alas!  Here I am a jumbled mess of letters placed together to strategically form words, sentences, paragraphs, and essentially another part of my story.  You guys, I am still wandering (yes, with an ‘a’).  I do not have Moses or Joshua here to guide my direction…I have Christ, though.  And while I am not seeing the path lay out clearly before me right this moment, I know He will bring about his will and it will be done.  I am a bit taken aback by today, it was quite unexpected, but I know His ways are higher than mine.  I know that He guides me with his righteous right hand.  He leads me; he is my Fortress, my Stronghold, my Shelter, my Armor, my Strength, and my Shepherd.  He is my Savior.  He is grace and I will find his guidance and direction even if it is not where I thought it was leading.  This knowledge certainly does not make it easy; it just makes it His way, which is, of course, always right.
So I am here humbly asking for prayer for guidance for myself and my family.  Lord, take us where You would have us go and let our lives bring You the glory.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).


“I bow my head to pray. I know You hear each word I say, I’m pouring out my heart to You like water.  I have faith; I have faith; I have faith in You.  I know the road is long and we don’t always get to understand it all, but we are asking, God, help us to trust You anyway.  For every mile we walk, for every sorrow that seems to break our hearts, would You give us strength to face each day in Your Grace” (Smith, Faith in You, 2007).



Myrah the Miracle

So, according to the wide world of Google, National Daughter’s Day falls somewhere between August 11 and September 24 (apparently they simply go by algorithms; how many people mention it on social media etc.…yes, I do random research because I am random like that sometimes.  You’re welcome), and according to my Facebook, I recognized this day as such last year SO…this is all about Myrah.

Today I want to share her story…dedicate this to Miss Myrah; she was a HUGE surprise.  We had just returned home after another extended stay in Texas for more surgery for Scott.  At this point he had had several surgeries and some extensive radiation and we basically knew the end of our child bearing days had come.  I mean, we had to be honest with ourselves, between my reproductive difficulties and his radiation/stress/surgeries there was just NO WAY another child was in the card for us, right?  I had generally come to terms with it though my heart ached for another; my sole focus at this point was my husband getting better!

So we are back from Texas and changing our lifestyle completely.  We took about 90% of any kind of medicine out of our cabinets and about 90% of the food out of our kitchen.  We really cleaned out our house so we could clean out our bodies.  We went drastic.  We actually ate mostly raw for a few months and while I know many will think this is hocus pocus, I feel that it really did have a hand in helping our bodies to heal; I feel that God wanted us to go in this direction so we could begin a healthier lifestyle.  And in this process, not only did Scott begin to get better, but to our amazement, I became pregnant.

My pregnancy with Myrah was ROUGH to say the least.  I was terribly sick from the very beginning.  I mean awful sick.  When I was about 7 weeks along I had a terrible gall bladder attack which required even more attention to my diet and actually left me where I could eat almost nothing.  Seriously, I probably consumed 500 calories a day at this time…I couldn’t eat a thing.  I also couldn’t have surgery unless it was actually life threatening because I was considered a moderate risk during my pregnancy.  It was rough.

Then to delivery…this girl was for real not doing anything the easy way (this is still true).  The week I was in labor (yes, I said week, though there was a three day period I was in true labor, the week before I was just in a lot of pain) I ended up in the emergency room three times for dehydration.  I could not re-hydrate no matter what I tried and I tried everything!  I was drinking the smartest water and several different electrolyte replacement drinks…but I wasn’t able to eat and apparently if you can’t eat and you are dehydrated then you won’t re-hydrate.  Ya, weird, right!?  So the third time I am in the hospital I am so miserable, I can’t even sit because I am in so much pain.  Everything hurt and Scott and I just knew something was off.  During my pregnancy I had decided I was going to have a natural delivery though I had previously had C-sections…but in this moment, Scott and I prayed (really, Scott prayed for me) and by the time he was done we knew natural birth was not going to be an option.

While nothing bad showed on the ultrasound, we knew something was wrong, the nurse knew, and even the doctor had a feeling.  We made the very difficult decision to do an emergency cesarean section and from there it was a whirlwind.  Things moved so quickly that within the next hour our daughter was born.  We found out that my uterus had actually ruptured in two places and had we waited much longer things could have ended much differently, but God has a plan and His plans will not be thwarted even when our own human stubbornness gets in the way.  He meant for Myrah to be here and here she was.

She made a grand entrance but I wasn’t even able to see her at first…they whisked her away and while the surgeon was trying to reassure me a team of 6 or 7 NICU workers came running full speed through the doors of the operating room and began working on my little baby.  I saw them put the mask on her and squeeze the tiny bag full of air to inflate her lungs and breathe for her, I saw a tube go down her throat, and then I saw them wheel her out.  It happened so quickly that I honestly don’t even remember if I actually got to touch her before she was wheeled away.

I was open on the table and they kept assuring me that all was well but I was terrified.  Scott stayed with me through the operation—they had to repair my ruptured uterus, close the incision they had made, and drain a very large cyst on my ovary.  It felt like forever, but as soon as they were done I sent Scott to be with Myrah and my wonderful birth doula stayed with me.  I went from recovery to my room where I was stuck in bed for the next day because of the amount of blood I lost.  Thankfully I was agreeable and continued to rest so I did NOT end up having a transfusion…apparently I came close to the point of needing blood, though.  It was so very hard…while Isaiah did go to NICU after he was born also, I at least got to see him and touch him and meet him first.  With Myrah none of that happened.  I remember them quickly showing her to me and then taking her to work on her.

This little baby girl…I am in tears as I write this because God is just so good.  Satan worked against us through my whole pregnancy but God was simply not having it.  I remember once my BBCI instructor (and also a sweet friend) looked at Myrah (she was about 8 months old at the time, I believe) and said “that girl just looks like she is supposed to be here; God has big plans for her”.  I’ll never forget those words because I feel them as well.  It was a fight to get her here and God will not be shaken.

SO, that is the crazy and miraculous story of our little girl, and now I want to tell you about the toddler I have!  I often call her a hot mess because she is all of that and so much more.  Both boys were speech delayed so the fact that she says SO MANY words astounds me!  She has a huge vocabulary and a huge personality.  She loves accessories (bracelets, necklaces, bows, purses, shoes…seriously) and she LOVES getting dressed, particularly in dresses!  She is my prissy little girl for sure!  She also loves dirt and pizza and FRUIT!

She loves to fist bump and play shoot and pretend like she has a sword or light saber (I mean, with two big brothers, what do you expect, right).  She has this lip she pouts out which really gets her out of too many things.  And her babies; she has at LEAST 15 babies that wear diapers and get baths and have quilts and blankets…and she takes very good care of them and it is precious to watch.

So that is the outline of how our daughter came to be.  Myrah isn’t perfect, she is stubborn and has a strong will and even at her young age has a natural inclination to reject authority and do her own thing.  But, she is a miracle; a blessing from God as all children are.  She loves to sing and dance and put on a show, but she is also shy and attached very much to me, her daddy, and brothers.  She has a heart full of love already, though, as well as a passion to care for others and an empathetic nature I’ve never before seen in a toddler.

My point of this is not to build up the perfect image of Myrah, but to share that miracles are real.  We weren’t focused on having another child when Myrah came along; we were focused on Scott’s healing.  God gives us hope, though, even in the times when things may seem hopeless.  He does not always give us what we want because what we want is not always in His plan or for His glory, but he is our hope.  He is our Refuge, our Right Hand, our Fortress, our Salvation.  When we were at a dark hour in our lives fighting to keep Satan behind us, God shone his light and as always, it was good.

And, it still is.

Myrah is pretty amazing, and so very special.  God is even more so.  He made her, after all.

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14 NIV).


Tie Breaker

(Just a note:  I actually STARTED this last week and finished just now…because sometimes I have to be patient and wait for the rest of the words to come)

I am having an under the weather day so kids are getting a free day and though I am not feeling well, I decided to be somewhat productive by listening to some sermons…now I feel compelled to write for a bit.  SO, I just got done listening to this sermon about the parable of the vineyard workers and it REALLY got me to thinking…all ‘bout our selfishness.  Essentially, isn’t that what the story is about?

I know I have often quoted “the first shall be the last and the last shall be the first” to a group of kiddos who are all shouting to be first in line or first picked for an activity or to hold the flag or Bible at VBS opening.  We OFTEN use this quote, but boy was I humbled today when I realized I was misusing it…most of us are, as a matter of fact.  This pastor put it into a perspective I have never even thought of…he said (this is paraphrase) “what happens in a race when there are two runners and the first is last and the last is first” (Vermilya, 2016)?  You guys, it took me a minute to figure out where he was going…THEY TIE (for the record, Noah got the answer in like 20 seconds…don’t judge)!  They finish together, they get the SAME REWARD.

SO, what happens when you are given a promise and you work years toward your goal and another person comes in right before the end and they get the SAME REWARD!

For instance, let’s talk about salvation…I dedicated my life to Christ when I was fifteen, my (step-but-not-step) dad did not dedicate his life to Christ until MUCH later in his life (8 or 10 years ago, to be more precise).  Does that mean when we get to heaven I get to go straight through the gates but dad has to wait a bit because I was there first?  OR does that mean I have to wait (first shall be last) while dad goes through?

This pastor also focused on the fact that the Lord calls us all to Him to do His work (we were made for His glory, after all).  Is there a time where we think of one kind of work more mundane than another?  I remember about two years ago when my husband felt it in his heart to begin cleaning the church we attended at that time.  So often people think of this kind of work as menial or less than what someone else is doing.  In fact, I have heard it said with my own ears that so and so is too good to clean toilets, but this is never how Christ acted, is it?  ALL work is done for the glory of he who made us (Colossians 3:17); after all, if Christ could take on the humiliating task of washing pooh and mud off his disciple’s feet, can’t we clean a toilet with gloves and a brush? My task of changing Myrah’s diapers (cloth at that) is no less rewarding to my family than my husband’s task of going to work each day, am I right?

The Word says that we all sin and fall short of his glory (Romans 3:23).  It doesn’t say we all sin and SOME fall short.  It doesn’t say those who don’t fall TOO short get VIP passes.  It doesn’t even say those who live their lives being as good as they possible though they are sinners through and through will get a better salvation package.  Nope.  It says we ALL sin and we ALL fall short.

SO, while we ought to do good things for people (the least of these, remember…we aren’t worrying about position, right?) these good deeds are done out of reverence and obedience to our Lord, not to get a greater benefits package.

Isn’t this an amazing thing to hear?  I am NO BETTER THAN YOU and vice versa.  Repenting and having your heart changed by the Spirit and living for Christ; accepting the gift of salvation means ALL who accept that gift are given the reward.  We should strive to do good things BECAUSE of this gift; because that is what we are supposed to do and for no other reason.  We can never attain perfection, but we can strive to keep our eyes lifted to Him and our hearts living for Him and by doing this the world sees Him through us THAT is a BIG deal!  THE WORLD!  You know how big and bad that world out there is, right?  There is so much anger and hate and evil in this world, wouldn’t it be great to live for the Lord and show people He is the good.  That he is the Way and the Truth; the Bread, the Water, the Light and by His grace we can be saved.

This is exciting!  This is wonderful.  He is everything good.  We are nothing good, but if we allow the Spirit to guide our hearts and direct our lives then we can do good things in the name of the Lord.  We can all finish this race together if we just have Him.  I want to finish with you, so friend, think about it!  It doesn’t matter if you are 15 or 50, think hard about this “race” because friend, it doesn’t matter if you are first or last, if you follow Him then we go together.

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend.  Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go.  I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?  Or are you envious because I am generous?’” (Matthew 20:13-15 NIV).

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the word, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17 NIV).

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged” (Proverbs 17:6 NIV)

“The road you leave behind you is another road you’re gonna have to go back down.  It’s just the way this big ole world turns round.  You’ll find sometime you gotta go back down the road you leave behind” (David Lee Murphy, 1996).

I want to write about my grandparents for a minute, ya know, since it is Grandparent’s day and all.
My grandparents are so amazing.  I mean, I know that sounds so cliche, but it is also so very true in this instance.  If I said I had nothing but fond memories, I’d be lying and doing them a disservice because, while most of my memories are fond, there were obvious teaching moments during my childhood (AND adulthood) that were not so easy to hear (and to be honest, I don’t recall them, really, but I KNOW they are there because I know my grandparents).

Before I go any further, though, I want to really impress upon you all just how blessed you are if you have living grandparents and how important it is to show them respect and love and to take care of them.  You literally would not be here if not for them, so show some respect.  If you are my age, your grandparents probably lived through things such as at least one world war, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and the like.  These people lived more frugally than we could EVER imagine and yet still raised their children with love and discipline that seem to be a lost art anymore.  (Ok, so maybe I speak for my own grandparents in this aspect, but that is how I see them.)

So, I want to paint a picture of my grandma first, and in my eyes, this is what a grandma should always look like (and feel like).  I KNOW that sounds really narrow minded, but to me, my grandma is a story book grandma and I wanna be just like her when I grow up!

So my grandma is short (though being short is not a requirement for a grandma), and soft.  And by soft I mean that she radiates a softness; a gentleness that makes her always approachable.  In my memories of my grandma there is almost always laughter and a plate of cookies and chocolate cake with peanut butter (or yummy fudge) icing, always homemade.  She always has a ready smile, even now when the last year (two actually) has been so very hard for her.  She is so loving and it is easy to love her.  When I think of her, I think of Proverbs 31—“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done” (25-31 NIV).   She is faithful and loving and honest and kind and generous and so many other things.  She has blessed me and my family in so many ways and she is so dear to my heart!  I cherish her so much, and seriously, I hope I can follow her lead and be this kind of mother and grandma to my own.

Now for my granddad…when I think of my granddad the first thing I think of is ornery and stern.  Now, these two things may SEEM like polar opposites, but they really go together well.  You see, my granddad was a godly man, but he did not lose his childlike sense of humor ever.  My granddad was obedient and expected obedience, which seemed harsh to some, even to me at times, but I totally get it now.  Granddad was also very hard of hearing and certain noises just grated right to his ear drum so we had to be careful about noise around him.  When he spoke, you know he had something good to say because of his hearing.  If he had something to say, you were to be quiet and listen because it was either hysterical, or profound, and he was a very wise man.  I remember last year, not long before he died, he said something to me that I still can’t get out of my head.  We were talking about how my family had been considering an out of state move but I kept holding off because one family member or another needed me and it wasn’t a good time to leave so and so.  My granddad leaned over (which meant something wise was coming) and said “Cissy, if you keep waiting for the right time for everyone else you’re never gonna find it.  It’ll never come.  If you keep waiting, you’re not gonna get to live your own life”.  Such wisdom…granddad saying this reminded me that even though I was striving to take care of my family, I might be disobeying the Lord by ignoring His call to go elsewhere.

When I think of my granddad, a Psalm comes to my mind “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him.  You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.  Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.  Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the LORD.  May the LORD bless you from Zion” (Psalm 128:1-5 NIV).

These things were my granddad who (along with my cherished dad) was the model I looked to when I found my own husband.
My grandparents weren’t just great individually, but their marriage was an example for me as well.  They persevered through many trials, and you know this one crazy thing?  My grandparents NEVER went to bed angry with one another.  They both told me many times how they would lose sleep for a night or two before they slept on their anger.  This is just…well, it’s miraculous, really!  They also weren’t afraid to be affectionate and always made each other a priority no matter what.  My granddad loved my grandma and my grandma showed him respect, two things a marriage thrives on—“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33 NIV).  They may not be perfect (because, ya know, they are human) but they were such excellent examples.

Which brings me to my final point—if you have even the slightest opportunity and your grandparents are on this earth still, serve them if you can in any way you can.  You have no idea the difference this makes in their lives.  It may take some creative reasoning skills, and it may humble them a bit, but serve them when you can while you can.  They won’t be here forever.  Trust me, I know.  I never dreamed of losing my grandparents as a little girl.  I never imagined a world without my grandma or granddad in it, but last November the world I never dreamed became a reality and we lost my dear granddad.  Guys, get the one last hug.  Tell them you love them.  Mow, scrub, sweep, and visit because tomorrow might not come.  I could talk about my grandparents all day long, really.  Just remember that you will have to walk the road again one day when you are a grandparent…you will have to come back down the road you leave behind.
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’” (Psalm 92:12-15 NIV).

Think BEFORE You Speak

If there is one thing I have learned in my love for writing and reading, it is that words are powerful; so very powerful.  Think about it.  Everything you say, read, or write garners a reaction from someone somewhere.  So do you think before you speak?

Over the past year thinking about what I say before I say it has hit home more than once because I love words and I’m obviously a wordy girl.  In short, I love to talk!  An explanation from my husband may take 30 seconds and 100 words while one from me…well, let’s just double (or quadruple) the amount of time and words for the same explanation.  Yes, I admit, I have a lot to say and I am not always concise when I say it.  This is not the problem at hand, however.  The problem is when people speak BEFORE they think.  I mean, we are such rash beings who need instant gratification so why would we think before we speak, right?
Well, friends, can we change that, please?

SO OFTEN we are not putting forth the fruits of the Spirit in our words because we allow our fast acting mouths to direct our reactions.  You may ask a simple question and mean no harm, but it is taken the wrong way because of the way we speak about it.  We ASSUME.  Now, I had a WONDERFUL English/Literature teacher in my high school (shout out to Mrs. Holt and my Macomb posse’) and she taught us that assume means you make a donkey out of you and me; HA!  Get it?  Ok, I am SURE this is common knowledge, but she taught it to me and while I don’t really like to use derogatory words like that, in this case, it was needed to make her point.

So, I too have a point, I promise.

Even in texting there is a tone.  For instance, if you text someone assuming one thing with never asking the details on what actually happened, the recipient is going to probably be annoyed and/or offended.  Is it so hard to extend common courtesy?  Before you begin assuming and spout off angry words, think!  Scripture tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19 NIV), so why, friends, are we not doing this very thing?! SLOW to speak.  And the best way to be slow to speak is to take time to think before we speak.

While it is common knowledge that I am an over-speaker, the fact that I am an over thinker may not be as well known unless you know me well.  I often think of the outcome my words will have before I share them.  I can’t tell you how many blog posts I have that have never been published because of this, and don’t get me started on the number of texts I have taken eons to write out but never pressed send.  (AND, because I am a writer, I also save 99% of these messages…hey, we all have our quirks, ok).  Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?  Let me find the biblical equivalent real quick, not because I don’t have it memorized, but because I want to copy it word for word so we can ALL see AND so I can ensure accuracy:  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NIV).  THIS SUMS UP THE LAW.  Hold on, though, I have more!  Did you know that the disciples asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment AND (as he always does) He answered!?  “’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’”.

Hold on a sec, ALL the Law hangs on these commandments?  AND we have to love our neighbor as ourselves?  Well, isn’t that a lot to ask of us?  I mean, can you imagine loving someone else as much as you love yourself?  Be honest here, we live in a society that teaches us love of self.  We read self-help books and relish individuality like no other generation.  We are IN LOVE with ourselves and NOW we have to love others that much?  AND we have to be nice to others (I mean, are we even nice to ourselves anymore, really?)

Do you realize that Christ prayed before every sermon he gave?  Did you know he reached out to his Father for guidance too?  I mean, He had the power to stand on a boat in the sea and make his voice heard to thousands with no sound system; he didn’t take his job lightly.  Ever.  But Scripture tells us again and again how he prayed!  In Mark 1:35 we read how Christ prayed BEFORE going and speaking to people.  In Matthew 23 He prayed then went to save the disciples on the stormy sea.  Jesus prayed long and hard before preaching the well known Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus knew to think before he spoke, so why are we not doing the same thing?  Are we above Him?  Are we too good to pray and think before we speak and act?  (Again, I include myself because I am FAR from innocent!).  How dare we!

Besides, why would we NOT want to do this?  Are we so intent on building ourselves up that we must tear each and every person down in the process?  Have we become so self-important and involved that this is what we do; this is the norm?  Have we forgotten that we are to do HIS will and not our own?  (Obedience is really hard, am I right?!)  Friends!  I beg of you to stand with me on this!  Let us become a community of people who are mirroring the image of Christ as we should be!  Let us REALLY be His hands and feet; healing and moving, working for His Kingdom!  Let us do this in ALL things, but why not start here!?  I think if we all worked on this tiny aspect of simply being considerate we could really make a difference in His name.

Think about it for a minute.  If we are practicing the art of self-indulgence do you really think we are going to reach the world (remember that final instruction from Jesus?  Go out and preach…)?  If our nation is selfish on a whole, what is the point of us not letting “any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may BENEFIT (emphasis added) those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV) (little side note, this happens to be my favorite New Testament book).

Now friends, this is not to say that discipline or judgement is never needed.  I think I have made my point of view on judgement clear before (recap in my words as per Scripture: if you are going to judge, be prepared to be judged, and before you do said judging, make sure you are without sin and in a position where you are not being a hypocrite before confronting your brother or sister).  There are times when it is necessary to judge our BROTHERS AND SISTERS which means there are times we can speak the truth in love, but the truth may hurt and sound harsh.

The long point is, have some compassion.  People are always going through something and you have no earthly idea what it is at the time, so, before you send out an accusing text or long ranting facebook message or drawn out voice mail, stop and think about that.  Think about the last time you went through something really difficult and how you felt when someone assumed your life was roses and clovers when in reality it was a jumbled mess.  Don’t be that person, be the one who has compassion; the one people won’t  ignore when they see your name on the caller i.d.

In a nutshell, just be nice!:)

Words are powerful!  Isaiah is reading one of my favorite poets in school right now (who doesn’t love a good Frost?) and seeing him read the words that help nurture my own love of writing makes me realize just how powerful words are.  Think of how you feel when reading “Stopping by the Wood on a Snowy Evening” and contrast that with how you feel when reading something like “The Raven” by Poe.  Both wonderful and beautiful, but when I read one, I hear a promise of tomorrow and all the things to come while reading the other makes me think that tomorrow might not come.  Going deeper, think of the difference when you read passages from a book such as Psalms which is full of hope and praises and hymns and compare that to a book such as Revelation where we are reading apocalyptic and prophetic narratives.  But also think of the words of Christ when he assured us that there is a way to the Father through Him, or when he tells us to take heart during our troubles because he has overcome the world.

Words are powerful, friends.  Those anti-bully campaigns don’t lie, so use them wisely, please!


We (GASP) Home-school!

Can I talk about home-school stigma for a sec, please?  I want to preface this by saying how thankful I am to live in the United States of America, specifically in Oklahoma where I have so much freedom in my homeschooling choices.  Many states in our nation have strict laws regarding home education, but several do not, and in Oklahoma, it is written right into our state’s constitution that homeschooling is our right.  SO, I home school.  If you do not, I respect that, if you private school, that’s great, if you public school, awesome (I LOVE teachers!  They seriously get so much heat for short comings that are not their own! And they work SO SO HARD!).  SO, we have a choice and our choice was homeschooling. I mean, I get it, homeschooling isn’t for everyone; neither is pizza (though I’ll still be your friend if you don’t choose to home-school, if you don’t like pizza, we may have a problem).

It is actually an interesting story how it came about that we made this choice…some things happened, events occurred, and I sheepishly went to Scott one day and told him I felt like we needed to pull Isaiah out of school and home-school him…you know what Scott said to me?  Well, I was floored because his response was “I was wondering why you ever put him in public school”.  WHAT!  (Communication, friends, it’ll save many confusions)!  The Lord was REALLY guiding us in this direction because six months after we pulled Isaiah out of public school Scott was diagnosed with cancer.  Our choice now meant our family could stay together during this long trial which was quite difficult but also made us stronger as a family.

ANYWAYS, so I want to talk a little about the things people say to home-schoolers that they THINK are kind, but in reality they are often just responses to cover shock (I say this in jest, and I am smiling as I do; please don’t be offended).  So, when we made our decision to home-school here are some of the things we heard: “home-schoolers are weird, they are isolated, what about socialization, are you qualified to teach them, what about sports, what about Isaiah’s Asperger’s?”.  These are just a FEW of the MANY questions we were asked, but you get the picture; so did I.  For a short while I felt guilty about my choice, like I was somehow robbing my children of normalcy, average, or standard regarding education.

THEN, I found out that my kids are totally my version of normal and everyone has their quirks.  If you’ve read other posts, you know Isaiah loves track and Noah baseball.  You may not know that we participate in a home-school co-op, pe class, and are a part of a very large home-school community in our county which holds various activities including things like awards night, soccer, and even graduation and prom.  SO, the point I am getting to is simple, and I will get there, eventually.

First, I want to tell you three recent experiences when we told people we home-schooled our kiddos.  First happened as we visited a church and a man asked what grade my kids were in…I guess you could say we are quite typical home-schoolers because we ALL had to think about that answer!  His response: “Oh, ummmm, well ok, that’s ok”.  The next experience was from a therapist (NOT Isaiah’s btw) who very kindly and subtly expressed her concerns regarding socialization in a child with Asperger’s who is being home-schooled while telling me how well she thought Isaiah was doing regarding said Asperger’s…and also expressing to me how she has neither the time nor patience to do such a chore.  The final encounter was at another church when a woman asked what school the kids attended and they simply said “home” and her shocked response was “oh!  That’s ok too”.  *sigh*

Seriously, you guys, I KNOW homeschooling isn’t for everyone.  It is NOT the right fit for everyone and everyone should not do it.  Just as not everyone should be a teacher or doctor or drive, not all people are meant to home-school and I am not one of those people who think that all people who choose a different schooling option from mine are terrible and setting their kids up for failure!  For MANY, public school is the ONLY option!  For many, private school is the ONLY option.  For many, online school is the only option!  The point is, we have options!  PLEASE don’t be critical (either internally or verbally) of our choice!  SO, here is my rebuttal to each encounter.
Ok, the first one was just kind of cute and I really don’t have anything to say about it…the poor guy was just caught off guard, I just really wish telling people that we home-school didn’t come as such a shock, though. Seriously, with the looks we get I sometimes wonder if I left my shower cap on or forgot to clean my face mask off!  Why is it such a big deal?  It is MUCH more common nowadays, so the surprised looks still throw me off.

The second encounter is a bit more difficult to address as this is a person in the medical community.  My main response to that is we have had Isaiah evaluated and his doctor is confident that we made the correct decision for him.  After the first six month our family doctor actually said he had never known a child with a social delay to thrive so much in a home-school environment; I call that a good report!  We did not take this decision lightly.  I mean, my children’s future is literally in my hands.  I am SOLELY responsible for their education or lack thereof (and while I am on this horse, please do not try to quiz my children when you see them.  I promise they are learning, they don’t need an inquisition as many kids freeze when asked questions on the spot anyway).  To the final encounter…do I have three eyes?  Is my shower cap or face mask still on?  Seriously, it isn’t a big deal!

If you have questions, just ask, but please, don’t admonish us for our choices unless our children show obvious signs of neglect.  My kids are in “grades”, but different levels.  Noah does a higher than 2nd grade level for math and reading and history, but is a bit slower in science.  Isaiah is a grade or two lower in math and language arts but excels in reading and science (and wrote his first poem today by the way!).  They are being taught, it just is not in the “traditional” way many expect.  We do school every day, but they do not have 100 worksheets a week to show for it.  Our schooling looks different because it is, it isn’t only different from others choices, each of my boys learns differently so their individual school looks different as well.  SO, ask me questions all day long, just be nice, please!  I love that we have choices!  I love that you are able to make your own choice and I am very open to answering questions about my choice, but I don’t want to be overly criticized about it.  I love that we are able to make our own choice.  I LOVE most of all that we all are doing what is right for our children because that is EXACTLY what God has told us to do!

Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (NIV).

All they have to do is learn and our job is to give them the best environment to do that in whether that is your home or a classroom.  It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme as long as we are starting them off right!  Training them up, teaching them, leading them, and guiding them is our job.  If we show them how to demean others for their choices now (even if we are doing it unintentionally) that is what they will learn.  We have options, friends.  Let our children learn that options aren’t always bad.  Accept diversity.  Doing what us home-school moms do doesn’t take some crazy amount of patience (trust me on this…I have my days), it takes trust in God for leading us down this path and in ourselves that we won’t fail our children.  I am no better than you, I may even be lazier because I’ve been known to stay in my pajamas…a lot…please call or text BEFORE you pop in LOL.  We have a LOT of pajama days LOL!  There is nothing special in me that makes me feel superior to you, I don’t want you to think that I think I am better because I home-school, but I also want my decision to be accepted by you.  I’m a little quirky, a little crazy, and a whole lotta loving.  I am also flawed as I was born a sinner through and through.  I have my bad days, and my very bad days.  I have days where I longingly watch the yellow bus drive down the street and for a brief moment think of what it would be if my kids were jumping on it.  BUT, I chose this path, I was not forced.  We didn’t make this decision lightly and I don’t take it lightly, but please know, this is my job.  My occupation at this time reads “home school mom”.  If you wouldn’t criticize a public school teacher for their choice occupation and all their hard work (seriously, props to my teacher family and friends bc the job can seem thankless at times, I am very close to my aunt, I see what she goes through, but I also see her love and devotion for the job), then please don’t do it to me and mine. I love my job…most of the time;)

Basically my point was, give us a break, please.  I KNOW you don’t mean to come off as critical, but that is how it feels.  If I am in need of correction then by all means, be critical according to the Word!  I might get mad, but if I need it, I need it!  BUT, if you just think home schooling is ridiculous, don’t tell me, please!

Remember: “let us build one another up” (Thessalonians 5:11).  This parenting gig is tough stuff so let’s build together.  It really does take a village!

FINALLY-enjoy the photo!  That was our first official day of school this year!  We get donuts every first day since Isaiah started Pre-K and I am so happy that we continue it!

Back to School

NO PLEASE, do not run and hide, I KNOW back to school time is scary, that is exactly why I need to talk about it!  EEK!  Because it is that time…and I’m scared!  No, really, it is super scary, I mean, I home school my kids.  If they completely bomb anything in the education category, that is all on me.  I cannot blame teachers for their lack of concern, I cannot blame the system for the common core crud, I can’t even blame the text books for being in a different language because I choose those books!  Seriously, it’s some pressure you guys!  AND, I bet even if you don’t happen to home educate your kiddos like I do, it is still a scary undertaking!

Here is how our school year usually begins:  I spend about a month before school begins planning the next year out to the letter.  I plan the year, then the months, then the weeks, then the day by hour.  BOOM!  I am SUPER AWESOME ORGANIZED MOM and I am totally going to ROCK THIS SCHEDULE FOR THE ENTIRE…first six weeks.  Yes, friends, you read that correctly.  That is IF I keep on track for that long HA!  (In my defense, I was much better at the scheduling BEFORE the baby decided to grow into a toddler!)

Do you know what happens after those first few weeks when I start falling behind or things come up or life happens?  I beat myself up.  No, really, I barely sleep at night, I give myself the hardest time, and I give myself even bigger and more unattainable goals to fail at. I mom-shame myself. Do you mom’s realize we are harder on ourselves than anyone in the world?  Do you know that we criticize ourselves about things that other people have no earthly idea even exist in our minds!?  Let’s call this a kind of follow-up to the mom-shaming post, except that we are shaming ourselves.  We have let the world get to us so very much that we can’t even give ourselves a break!

SO, this year I came to a realization—I home school.  For me, that actually means I have freedom.  In the beginning of our home school journey I used to try to look very much like a public school—desks and TONS of work sheets and busy work and…you get the idea.  NOW, there is NOTHING wrong with how you choose to school your children; for many, public school is the only feasible option, and I in NO WAY criticize you for that!  BUT, since I am not using that option, I realized our school does not have to look like that!  (The realization only took me FOUR or so years!).  SO, what exactly does freedom look like?

Well, glad you asked.  This year I still planned out our year.  BUT, I didn’t plan it to the letter like I usually do (which is how I usually set myself up for failure).  I plan our schedule based on a year round school schedule of 36 weeks and/or 180 days.  This is pretty much the only “law” Oklahoma has regarding home school (along with subjects that need to be taught, which in my opinion is kind of common sense, but I digress).  So I plan our schedule with four weeks on and one week off, we take off weeks of the children’s birthdays which may mean that we get two weeks off in a row or have school five weeks in a row.  We take off the entire week of Thanksgiving and two weeks for Christmas.  Two weeks in the spring, which we actually take later than most schools do their break, and 3-5 weeks for summer depending on how the year goes.  In Oklahoma, I would rather school through the summer because the summer here is a bit miserable, but that did not happen this year.  SO, that is my YEAR planned out…what I did not do that I usually do is pre-plan all of our field trips and such.  This is kind of a big deal because I LOVE to plan field trips, I mean, I go extravagant, I’ll have to share my friend’s blog post about our Route 66 trips sometime.  I like to plan field trips around what we are studying or make them relevant in some way, the problem is that once I got behind on my schedule, the field trips got scattered and then we would miss them an then I would feel bad and guilty and like a failure…see, you get the picture.

SO, I wrote in field trip IDEAS for the month and when that month comes, I can plan accordingly and care free!

While I have planned out basically the work needed to be done each day, I did NOT place specific month/dates on what had to be done and when.  SO, for example, instead of saying X needs to be done on August 12th, I instead have written “week one day 3”.  That means if we end up taking off a week unexpectedly because of an illness or some other reason, I am not going to be behind, I simply continue with the next week/day in order with no worries.  I am learning to be much easier on myself.  It is NOT an easy task.

Yes, we still do have a daily schedule, schedules are a part of life in the grown up world, and I do feel the need to set my children up for success in that way, but this is working for us, and I am NOT stressing or freaking out like I usually am about this time.  I feel pretty content with all this school stuff, as a matter of fact.

So moms, dads, caregivers of small people who are in desperate need of an education and also a sane parental figure, don’t stress.  If you public school, don’t worry too much, it’ll get done.  Make yourself a little daily schedule for things like homework and chores so you can stay on task and plan the rest of your day accordingly without feeling bogged down.  If you home school, do the same!  Make yourself a daily schedule, but don’t make your yearly schedule so rigid that you forget to live life.  Don’t make this journey stressful!  Our kids are only going to be this little once.  This day only comes once, this week will never come again, this month will fly by and be a memory by tomorrow.  Relish it.  I KNOW that is easier said than done, believe me, I know, but you can do it.  In all the scheduling and planning and striving for unattainable perfection, remember to enjoy what you have.  It is a blessing, my friend, a miracle.  You have today, school will happen, learning will happen, but more importantly, let love happen.

Take a breath, grab some coffee, get your calendar and use white out accordingly!

Remember this:
“I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.  He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that people will fear him” (Ecclesiastes 3:10-14 NIV).
There is a time for everything, this is the time to heal, build, dance, laugh, gather, embrace, search, keep, mend, speak, and love.  We will have trials along the way, because there is a time for everything, but in those times, don’t forget these!

P.S. The photo is from one of our Route 66 field trips.  There was a huge map on the floor and we were each standing on a town we visited on our trip…SO FUN!!!


Noah played ball, baseball, actually:

A little background regarding Noah and sports…Noah has only ever done soccer because that is all he chose and it made life easy because both boys chose soccer and our little home-school community just happened to have a non-competitive soccer “league” where all ages practiced at the same time and games were immediately after practice.  Seriously, it does not get any easier than that! SO, he has always done soccer, but he didn’t really seem to love it.  When Noah loves something, there is no question; he does it with all he has.  He never wanted to run in soccer, he really seemed to just be there for fun and friends not for the love of the game.  Fast forward to this spring when I gave the boys a list of options for sports (they are allowed to choose one a semester) and he said he wanted to try baseball.

Baseball!  Well, this made Scott VERY happy because Scott grew up playing baseball and was very good at the sport.  I was a bit nervous about baseball as the last baseball experience we had was with Isaiah who really liked to play in the dirt during a baseball game!  Baseball is MUCH more time consuming than our little home-school soccer program AND Scott ended up coaching (but that is another post altogether) so it took up SO MUCH TIME!  All I could think was “Noah better LOVE this sport!” and love it he does.

A little about Noah, Noah is something else.  He is full of fire, determined, ornery, kind, and an all-around good kid.  I mean, he has his moments (I used to call him my drama king), but he is great.  He is full of love and loves what he loves to the fullest, so while I knew that if he loved baseball he would give it his all, what I half expected when Noah decided he wanted to try to play baseball was another child of mine playing in the dirt in the field as the ball whizzes by. Isaiah was not into baseball, and that is ok because all people are different (Isaiah loves soccer, Noah doesn’t), but Noah shined from the first time Scott took him out to play catch.

I’ve always thought of Noah as the more athletic kid, not because Isaiah CAN’T, but because it is not Isaiah’s thing, really.  Noah is skinny and wiry and never seems to tire.  He always wants to be outside and the first time Scott took him out to practice, he came back in amazed because of how well Noah did.  NOW, of COURSE I figured it was simply because baseball is Scott’s sport and he was just thrilled that Noah was into it; I figured it was parent talk, ya know.  We all do it!  Our kids are the best in our eyes because we see how much they want it or how hard they try and we give out A’s for effort because that is just a part of our job description.

So, Scott comes in beaming from the first play practice he and Noah had out back because Noah threw and hit and caught the ball.  Now, I know basically nothing of baseball so in my mind I’m thinking “of course he did all those things, that is what baseball is”.  I didn’t think I could be impressed by a six year old playing t-ball…then I saw the first game. So we go to the first game, which was insane because the other team seemed to have not read the rules regarding age (6 and under) and had kids that were 8 and 9…big deal in t-ball, but I digress.  SO, I watch Noah at the first game and I am impressed.

Noah playing baseball reminds me of a figure skater on the ice or a gymnast on the beam or a dancer in their pointe shoes.  He just looks like he is supposed to play baseball.  He is immediately comfortable on that field, in the shoes, with the hat or helmet and glove.  It is like peas and carrots…he and baseball just go together.  It was like the world melted away for him and he was completely focused and it just went so smooth.

Now, Noah did not always catch the ball, but watching him crouch and dive and slide for it; it just came so natural to him.  Noah hit harder than any other kid on the team and many other kids in the league (ok, so I KNOW that sounds like a parent brag, but it is totally for real, no lie) and even though he did not have to run full speed to get to a base because the ball went so far, he ran his hardest anyway.  His determination never wavered.  He goes for it; gives his all; sets his eyes on the prize.

Noah is going to be…well, already is…one of those people who love life and live it to the fullest.  I’d be lying if I said this did not worry me a bit, though.  Noah is so very passionate in all he does that he does it all with all he has (did ya get all that).  He loves life so much, but it worries me because he is so stubborn, I often wonder if the things we teach him will get through and if he will learn to love the Lord more than he loves this life.  Noah is so good at baseball, but I pray with all my heart that boy learns something from the hard work and determination he puts forth to play ball.  Everything in this life comes by hard work and determination, and faith is included in that.

I want all my children (and the world, for that matter) to learn that while the path to faith is Christ and that path may seem easy and as simple as the A, B, C’s (Admit, Believe, Confess), there is really much more to it than that.  Noah learned t-ball, and next year he will learn more as he moves to coach pitch, and he will continue to learn, and that is how life should be; continually learning.  In order to keep our faith, we must be diligent in our learning.  We must always be studying the Word, always praying, always fellowshipping with others so we can learn and share what we know.  This is what I want for my Noah; I LOVE LOVE LOVE watching Noah play baseball, I am so serious, he is meant to play baseball, but what I love even more is watching him sing for the Lord.  I love watching him get excited about learning the Word of God at the young age of 6, and I pray with all my heart that this passion he has continues.  I pray that I can learn from him how to apply myself, be diligent, and that when I speak of the Lord it looks as beautiful as Noah does playing baseball.  More than anything, I hope that Noah and I (and we all) can remember to do what we do for the glory of God, and not to glorify ourselves. AND I pray that the gifts He has given us, we learn to use in a way that brings Him the glory!

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)