The Brief Guide for Summer Living

The Brief Guide for Summer Living

Where have I been? I’ve been taking some time to finish our homeschooling year, wrap up ministries before the summer break, and spend time with family and friends. Time seems to be flying by faster than ever. Each moment seems more precious than the one before. The cliches about time (the ones I heard a million, gazillion times when I had newborn babies) are ALL TRUE!!!

In thinking about time, I’ve been trying to be more intentional with how I spend it and focusing on people and relationships first. This means I’ve been slowing down, sitting down, and quieting down. It’s taken a few weeks to start breaking the habits of busyness. It seems like I am hardwired to be in constant motion (sometimes due to choices and situations; sometimes due to survival of taking care of and living with kids.) It can feel strange, extending, and challenging to slow down but with each moment focused on the less comes more of the life-giving, life-enjoying, and more meaningful things. This heart work is worth it and I have been enjoying it!

Instead of a summer bucket list, I’ve written a “brief guide”  (see above) for how I want to live my summer. It’s the more and less of summer which I hope will lead to creating habits of the more and less of life. I hope you are having a great month and taking time to slow down too. ❤

 

A Ship Called “The Fixer”

fixer

I am a fixer. When something is broken, I want to fix it. Messy situations call to me like a sirens’ song to a ship. I want to jump in and help but sometimes I find myself frustrated and overwhelmed by the rocks of reality and the lack of my resources. Conflict makes me uncomfortable and angry disagreements make me uneasy. I wish the world could find a way to live in peace, love, and harmony, like pretty boats sailing on calm, happy seas at a beautiful sunset. (I know, I am a dreamer.)

There seems to be a lot a whole lot of broken lately. A lot of things that need fixing and many jagged rocks to be snared upon. From world wide issues to individual interactions and attitudes, I have been watching and listening, reading and thinking. I have been praying and  I have been trying to explain and solve situations and circumstances that are completely out of my control. When I find myself tired and heading for the rocks of burden and frustration, I need to steer my ship in a different direction.

If I had unlimited resources and ultimate power, I would drill wells for clean water, make sure each person had a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, shoes on their feet, and food in their bellies. I would find each orphan a home. If I had the power to take away all brokenness, fear, and the hurt, I would. I would cure cancer and all other diseases that destroy and take people away too soon. I would mend and heal broken relationships and anything else that cause physical pain, shattered lives, and futures that seem hopeless and scary.

But I do not have that power, I am not God (and a good thing too. I would royally mess things up.) I cannot see the whole span of time or His divine plan. I cannot see how God orchestrates divine interventions of people crossing paths and circumstances that allow people opportunities to grow in their faith and love. I cannot see the finest details or understand how harden hearts soften or how darkness turns to light through the smallest miracles and touches of love found in the most perilous of storms.

I am limited but I serve and love a unlimited God. When I start feeling overwhelmed and the need to fix things, or more accurately the need to control things, I am better off leaving those things in the hands of God and trusting in His divine purpose and plan. Trusting He will provide.

Yes, I can be the hands and feet of Jesus. I will still reach out, walk alongside, and love the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the widows, the orphans, and the lost. BUT I will not get overwhelmed trying fix the unlimited number of problems that exist or get frustrated with my lack of resources to fix them. God has ultimate control, the power, and all the resources necessary. He is watching and listening. God hears the cries of our earnest hearts. He hears and listens and because He listens, I can be calm, hear and listen too.

In the book of Malachi, chapter 3, Malachi points out different groups of people- the complainers and the believers. The complainers (Malachi 3:13-15) felt as though they were serving and not getting anywhere. They were grumpy, frustrated and could not see the rewards of their faithful service. In their eyes, their world was getting worse and they did not like not having the ultimate control to fix it.

The believers, the faithful remnant (Malachi 3:16-18,) found themselves surrounded by the same circumstances but they remained faithful to God by fearing the Lord and His plans. The believers met together to edify and encourage each other, to worship God. They held God high in awe. They did not try to control the situations, they did not complain, they spoke to each other about the Lord and His truths. God paid attention to them. He paid attention to their words and the way they served in gladness.

   16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

Malachi 3:16-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

When faced with situations that need repair, I can remember the faithful remnant and their example of servitude in gladness. When I feel helpless or overwhelmed, I can pray  in full confidence knowing God hears my prayers and he remembers me. I can remember that I am a treasured possession, like a jewel, beautiful, unique and precious. I can recall my own sufferings, trials, and God’s faithfulness to me and use those past experiences to have compassion and help another person. I can surround myself with a cloud of joyful, glad witnesses who can speak truth and encouragement to me. And I can trust, I can trust that the Lord sees the horizon and all the storms in between. He has the resources necessary and in His strength and for His glory, He will provide.

Be encouraged! Keep sailing your ship forward, diverting the rocks and learning from the storms. Pick up those who have been shipwrecked, help where you can but do not be burdened. Trust that God has you in the right place at the right time, it will be He who gives you want you need and it will be God who completely restores those in need. Fill your sails with prayers and thanksgiving, and enjoy the views as the Lord gently guides you in the right direction through life.

Notes on the Presidential Debate- Some Unsolicited Advice (which may or may not include a Snap Cup)

It’s Monday morning. I am waiting for the coffee to finish brewing and I’m feeling a bit punchy. (That should say something about where this post it going.) The reality TV show I watched last night, also known as the presidential debate, left me feeling like this….

voting

Normally, I shy away from writing about politics but as a teacher (and a mom) I feel the need to give some unsolicited advice to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Just a few little things I teach my children to help build character and improve my children’s social skills. I sure hope Trump and Clinton were once taught these skills but it may be in their best interest to practice and (re)learn some of them before the next debate.

  1. It is polite to shake hands.
  2. If you do not have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all.
  3. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. (Abraham Lincoln and Proverbs 17:28)
  4. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
  5. Listen politely (even if you do not agree.)
  6. Control your temper.
  7. Play by the rules.
  8. Do not lie and do not exaggerate the facts.
  9. Do not seek revenge.
  10. Be kind to others.

My absolute favorite question came at the very end of the debate from a man named Karl Becker. I clapped and cheered when he asked, “Regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?” Cue Elle Wood’s pink, glittery Snap Cup. How awesome would it have been to see Anderson Cooper pass out pink scented paper and fluffy, pink pens to write with. I can just imagine Martha Raddatz singing the “Snap Cup” song. It would have totally improved everyone’s moods.

I am sure it was very difficult to think of positive things to say with such clear dislike from both opponents but Clinton went first and managed to get out how she respects Trump’s children. Trump had a slightly longer answer and said he respected Clinton as a “fighter” who “does not give up.”

In the spirit of being helpful, here are a few “Snap Cup” worthy answers for both Trump and Clinton, you know in the case they were ever presented with a question like that again.

snapcuphillary

snapcupdonald

snapcuphillary2.jpg

snapcupdonald2

snapcuphillary3

snapcupdonald3

See, that wasn’t too hard to do!

In all seriousness, I still think this country is great. I still have hope. I am sad we have such a divided nation but I am not afraid. My hope is not in any candidate or even in the process. My hope comes from the Lord and He is not surprised by any of this. My heart is turned heavenward and my eyes pointed forward. I will keep on praying.  Praying for this country, for Donald Trump, for Hillary Clinton and praying for the leaders of the world. Whoever wins this election, I will continue walking in faith and doing the things that I am called to. There are people in need and people to love. A younger generation is watching and learning. I plan to do what I can to be a good example of what it means to love people and teach my children to do so too. I think we all can agree, despite political stance, that this country needs more love. May God give us what we need and may God bless America.

****If you are looking for free resources on character education. Check out Character First . Their elementary curriculum provides timeless character traits in a bold, fresh manner. Lessons are designed for students in public school, private school, home school, day care, summer camp, or any other educational setting.

How We Came To Homeschool and Why We Do- Part 1

how we came to homeschool and why we do

If you asked me a ten years ago about homeschooling, my opinion would have been quite negative. To put it bluntly, I was ignorant to the whole thing. With limited knowledge of homeschooling, my perceptions came from common misconceptions of homeschoolers and the lack of exposure I had with homeschooling families. My training as a public school teacher and my teaching experience only compounded my strong opinions. I thought that the public schools had the best access to curriculum, services, and educational experiences. I thought “socialization” at school had to happen in order to form a well-rounded, well-adjusted child.  I was way off.

Then we had kids. A funny thing happens when you have them. The moment you look into the eyes of your newborn, the familiar world you once knew seems to change. Holding life in your arms, you are left to navigate a “new” and unfamiliar, selfless world. Constant time and attention is directed to the needs and growth of another human being . You find yourself questioning why you believe what you believe and you start prioritizing your values and obligations. Things that you once held high in importance are let go and you realize that certain things (like faith, family, friends) matter so much more than you ever thought. And oh the decisions, you spend constant hours thinking about, dwelling over, and making decisions. In momentous decisions and small choices you want to do what is best for your child and set them on a path of faith and a good life.

When my first born was about to start preschool, I knew my husband and I had decisions to make about school. By this time, I had been out of the public schools for about three years.  With increased state testing (which I had always disliked), changes in education policy and procedures, news stories of bullying, faith and social issues under fire, my opinion of public school was not as high as it once was. I knew public school WAS NOT the best choice for my family. So what was?

Also, by this time, I had become great friends with a homeschooling mom. She was awesome and her kids were normal, well-adjusted, and socialized! The more I asked her about homeschooling and the more she told me, the more my opinions on homeschooling started to change. My friend choose her curriculum (which I loved), went on a ton of “field trips”, and made her own school schedule. Her children had plenty of opportunities to “socialize” through church activities, baseball, cub scouts, and other unique opportunities.  Was this the best choice for our family?

The thought of homeschooling started to weigh on my mind more and more. Even when I declared that I would NEVER homeschool, part of me knew that was untrue. I had seen the positive impact of homeschooling on my friend’s family. I wanted a family like hers. The teaching did not worry me. It was the “other” stuff which I think boiled down to what other people would think. Who? I am not sure. I constantly prayed for help to decide what to do. I did my research too- reading books, articles, blog posts. One day, I do not remember the exact day or moment, I felt that I had been given a answer to my prayers. I strongly felt that “yes” we were suppose to homeschool and that we needed to have enough faith that it would work out. A sense of peace washed over me and the weight was lifted. I became really excited about all the possibilities homeschooling would do for our family.

At that time, we did not have everything figured out. We actually had two options for schooling.  We had been offered a full scholarship at a Christian School. But at that time, we had spent so much time researching and praying and I felt so strongly that this was God’s plan, we turned down the scholarship. I was so blessed to have my husband’s support.  My youngest daughter went to the Christian preschool while my oldest daughter and I started our first year of homeschooling together. It was a blessed year full of learning experiences for both of us. When my second daughter was about to enter Kindergarten, it was an easy decision what to do-HOMESCHOOL.

100s Days Smarter

September 1st, will start of our third year of homeschooling. It amazes me how the journey began and where we are now. We still do not have everything figured out and are learning as we go. I think homeschooling is definitely a calling and not for everyone. I feel blessed that we live in a country where we are given the freedom to choose which type of education is right for our children. I certainly do not look down or differently on anyone for making a choice of public or private school. I like to believe that we, as parents, are all trying to make the best choices for their children so that together we will raise up an generation that will kind, good leaders, and good stewards of this world.  But as for my family, homeschooling is where we will be educating and bringing up our little world changers. 

Stay tuned for the next post- Part 2: What We Homeschool

Hesitation

I hesitated to start this blog.  Conversations with other moms, about mommy-blogs, produced chuckles and comments like:  “Why would she want to write that?” “How does she have time to write a blog? I barely have time to ..xyz…” Not wanting to be the receiver of those chuckles and comments, I laughed along and kept quiet my own desires to one day start a blog.

In the safety of a few friends, I have shared my thoughts about wanting to blog and in those conversations it was ME who chuckled and made the comments. “But who would want to read what I write?” “Do I really have something to say?” “Writing is not my strong point.”  Those dear, encouraging friends smiled, encouraged me to write, and assured me that they would read what I wrote. Time after time I have talked myself out of it, convinced that “blogging” was not for me. My stalling to be out of a lack in self-confidence and self-consciousness about sentence structure and grammar. (I’ll save the topic of my struggles with a Type-A personality for a future post.)

Days and months went by, but the desire to write and share my ideas persisted. Then came an opportunity to write a few paragraphs for a leadership website. I tried to ignore the opportunity. I tried to not think about what I could write about or the things I could say. I tried to convince myself that I was not a writer and someone better than me could write it. But the harder I tried to stop thinking about it, the more I thought about it and the only way I could get “it” to stop (what ever “it” was) was to sit down and type everything that flowed out of my mind and heart. It felt so good! Therapeutic!

After my initial word and thought “dump,” I took time to add and delete and improve my writing. It was like crafting but without the glue, ribbon, and paper. When the post was finished,  it was more than accomplishment, it was like something that had been stirring inside me was brought out and was staring at me on the paper (or I should say on the computer screen.) I know, that sounds very dramatic but that is exactly how I felt. I decided to send the passage in with no expectations, just thankful that I had accomplished the task. Long story short, the post was picked and posted to the website. And that small bit of writing is what gave me the confidence to write some more and start this blog.

I teach my kids that they should try new things and press on in difficulty. I tell them the more they practice, the better they will become. I also tell my kids that God made them perfect just the way they are, what others say or think should not change what they want to try or who they want to be (in a negative ways, of course.)

I want to write because it is a challenge for me. I know I have a lot to learn. It is a chance to improve myself in a new and interesting way and be an example to my children.  I want to write because excuses, hesitations, other people’s thoughts, and missed opportunities is not the way to fully live. This is an opportunity to take my own advice and practice what I preach one blog post at a time.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.- Lao Tzu