Friday, December 28, 2012

In The Secret, Quiet Place

I don’t particularly like my writing to be compelled, but sometimes it is worse to buck than it is to go with it.  In this case, with the new year approaching I do feel like it would be good to write about it, and so I will.

With every new year there usually comes a whole bunch of resolutions.  Never eat again.  Exercise daily.  Read more. You know, the usuals.  The thing that strikes me about resolutions is that they operate under the assumption that January 1st will suddenly give us the ability to do what we have not been able to do the 364 days before that.  

For the record, I do not do resolutions the conventional way, if I do them at all.  Some years I do resolutions and some I don’t...but when I do, I actually start them before January 1st.  My goal is to already be on the road to change as I ring in the new year.  I do this for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is because change takes time, and there are likely to be some ups and downs along the way.  I prefer to have the “downs” happen in the “old” year.  It is all just psychological, but this way by the time the new year comes I am past the hardest part of changing, which is steadying your feet on the first step.  The second reason I do this is because I am a big fan of crescendos.  I think we fall victim of the classic decrescendo because we insist on starting off with as big of a bang as possible.  You know, you decide you want to get in shape so you spend a thousand bucks on equipment and sneakers, announce to anyone who will listen your fitness plan, and spend hours googling everything you can about exercising and dieting.  

The problem with this is that you have no place to really go but down.  Even if you faithfully do all that you intended, it is just maintaining all the hoopla that you have built up.  But more often than not, you start on the highest note possible, and then it fizzles out.  Decrescendo.  I prefer to start quietly...if you keep your plans low-key, then every step you take is a step up.  You don’t have to announce change- simply live it out and people will see it.

I do think resolutions can be a really great thing.  There is something very innate about the desire to start fresh in a new year.  I just think we get way to fixated on the outside- the visible.  Both the approach and the goals themselves tend to be very shallow.  The truth is, change- real, good, God honoring change- starts on the inside and takes time to accomplish.  You cannot simply become a new person just because the clock strikes twelve.  You also cannot start from the outside and work your way in.  Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.  Your outer person is merely a reflection what is on the inside.  When you meet someone for the first time, you initially see just their outer person. But it can take as little as five minutes for that outer picture to become a reflection of what’s really on the inside...for the good and for the bad.  

Take a good look at yourself...what do you see inside?

I look and I see someone who wastes time.  I see someone who does not enter into His presence nearly enough.  I see someone who is critical and judgmental.  I see someone who lacks patience.  I see a discrepancy between who I think I am and who I actually am.  I see someone who needs to change.

It starts in the secret, quiet place.  It starts with the soul's yearning for something more- something better.  It starts with the Word spoken to our innermost being.  It starts with Him and ends with you.

We still have a few days before the new year comes.  I want to start now.  I want to be changing now.  I am not promised January 1st, but I do have today.  I want to resolve to be peaceful and loving, joyous and merciful, patient and kind.  I want to stop proclaiming from the mountain tops and start whispering faithfully.  Some days you will fail and some days you will succeed.  The only real way to keep your resolutions is to wake up every day as if it’s the wake up every day deciding to live it for Him.

I do not know what this year will hold, both personally and globally.  The only way I can be ready for any of it is to make sure my soul is set in Him daily.  That much I resolve both for the new year and for every day until He comes.  

Should the Lord tarry, I will see you all in 2013.

Monday, December 24, 2012

TMTT- HO HO HO, Merry Give-A-Way!

Merry Christmas friends!!!  I hope you are all having a wonderful day today!  I can’t help but to take a moment to stop and reflect on this past year.  It has been a very difficult year, but I have not walked a single step alone.  That sweet baby whose birth we celebrate today grew up to be my Savior.  There will be many gifts given today, but He is the one who gave us the greatest gift...please don’t forget the beauty of what this day truly is about. 

Despite my difficult year, one of the highlights has been starting this blog.  I truly love to write, and this has given me an avenue to do that...and it is because of all of you who read my blog and support me that I can keep doing it.  So, as a Christmas gift to you, and to say a big thank you for all of your support, I am having my first (of hopefully of many more) give-a-way!  

I am giving away a $25 gift card to Target...and anyone can have a chance to win it!  I am making this as simple as possible, so here is what you have to do to be entered to win: simply leave a comment at the end of this post...not just any comment, I want you to just write the title of your favorite blog post.  And if you haven’t read any and you simply clicked on this to try and win the gift card, thats ok, just look at the list of my posts and randomly pick a title, lol.  Now the only tricky part is that the only way it lets you leave a comment is if you have a Google + account...but it’s quick, easy, and free so don’t let that stop you!  Create an account, leave a comment on THIS BLOG POST with your favorite blog post title, and then tune in next week to see if you won!  

Please pass this on to friends so they have a chance to win too!  

You have until Monday at 6pm to get your comments in, and then it will be closed while I randomly select a winner from among the comments.  I will be posting reminders throughout the week, and the winner will be announced on next Tuesday’s blog post.  

Again, thank you so much for all of your support.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

O Night Divine

I can’t help but feel like I should be writing about the Newtown tragedy.  I mean, not only am I feeling a lot about it, but it feels wrong somehow not to write about I owe them that much.  

But what could I possibly say that hasn’t already been said?

I could talk about the intense grief that I felt and still feel.  About how there is a line that evil is not supposed to cross...and yet it got crossed.  I could talk about how heartbroken those parents must feel and how their lives will never, ever be the same again.

I could talk about the gun control debate and whether or not I think there should be tighter gun laws.  I could talk about the second amendment versus the rights of citizens to feel safe from dangerous weapons getting into the wrong hands.  Or about where you draw the line between a person’s right to be armed and certain kinds of weapons being available to people with their own agenda of hate.

Or I could talk about mental illness and what our responsibility as a nation is in this regard.  I could ask if we are doing enough and providing enough resources to the mentally ill and their families so that they have a place to turn to if they feel there are signs of danger.  

How about personal responsibility?  Our responsibility to teach our children right from wrong.  Our responsibility as parents to provide a stable home life centered around Biblical standards.  Our responsibility to love and discipline and guard our children’s hearts and minds from the evil influences in our culture. Our responsibility as a nation to teach the sanctity of life, while denouncing violence in the media and the entertainment industry.

I could talk about all that...but it’s been done already.

And quite frankly, I am tired of talking.

Christmas is a few days away and while this tragedy seems so fresh and so new, the truth is, the birth we are about to celebrate was also punctuated by terrible tragedy.  Right after Jesus was born the king had all the baby boys under the age of two killed...because he feared the true King.  I can still hear the mothers’ cries two thousand years later.

The king feared Christ.  He feared losing his fragile hold of power.  I think that is what we are seeing more of today than anything else.  People are so lost that they are clinging to any sense of control, no matter how feeble it is.  Abortion disguised as power.  Feminism disguised as freedom.  Gay marriage disguised as love.  Spiritual adultery disguised as tolerance.  And saddest of all, the loss of eternal security disguised as the ultimate enlightenment.

You can convince your mind but never your heart.  Deep in the recesses of peoples hearts lies a terrible, terrible fear and sadness...and this is the very reason why there was a baby in a manger.

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth. A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices...”

I pray that this weary world will find its peace in Him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

TMTT- Kids Questions on Tragedy

I have never before been so undone.  This tragedy hit me harder than anything I can remember...all day Friday I was an absolute wreck.  I am so grateful to all my friends who reached out with love and prayers and support for me.  My parents always used to say that they loved my sister and me so much that they wished they never had us.  It always sounded really strange to me...until I had my own kids.

I wish I never had to address issues like this with my kids.  But we are in this world and as long as we are, there will be difficult things to face.  Today I am going to share some questions that my kids asked me, along with the answers I gave them.

  1. Mom, what is going on?
My son asked me this when he saw me crying and when I told him I was canceling school for the day.  While the younger kids were napping, I sat down my 6 year old, 5 year old, and almost 4 year old and I told them that something very sad happened.  I told them that a man went into a little kid school with a gun and killed a lot of people and that a lot of them were little kids.  I told them it was all very sad and that we needed to pray for the families who are very sad.  We sat and prayed and then I talked to them a little bit and asked if they had questions.  I did not elaborate much more, but the thing I think is most important when having difficult conversations is to make sure you are conveying the emotions that you want them to have.  What I mean is, I did not convey any fear at all...I spoke gently, but very matter-of-factly.  I did not sound scared or pick up very, very strongly on your emotions and if they sense that you are in control and confident, then they will feel secure even in the mist of bad, sad, or scary news.
  1. Is the man still shooting people?
I told them that the man with the gun was dead and that he was no longer shooting people.  I told them that the police and soldiers arrived very quickly and rescued many many people.  I also shared with them that Mister Rogers quote that was going around facebook- that whenever you see bad things, you can always look and you will find people doing good things.  In this case, I told them of all the people who were doing everything they could to help the kids and families.

  1. Why did the man do this?
I told them I didn’t really know why, but he must have been a very sad man to do something so bad.  I told them this is why it is so important to pray for people and tell people about Jesus, because people who do not know Jesus can get very sad and can feel very lost.  They know Bible stories and they know about Satan, so I was able to draw their attention to the fact that Satan is always trying to get people to sin, but that Jesus is always bigger and more powerful than Satan, and that Jesus is always with us.
  1. The kids are in heaven now.
This was not a question, but a statement which I was able to confirm and expound upon.  I told them that the children were probably confused for a moment about what was going on, but then all of a sudden they were being carried to heaven by Jesus and now they are in heaven and can never be hurt or scared every again. My kids like hearing about this- they ask me if you can ever get hurt in heaven, so it is wonderful to be able to tell them just how happy heaven is.  I told my kids very, very seriously that they should never be afraid. I told them that if a man with a gun was ever near them (or if anything scary ever happened), that they should not be scared because Jesus would be with them and if anything ever happened, they knew they would be carried away by Jesus.  My oldest son then told me (and he has said this before) that he wished he could die now so he could be with Jesus.  He did not say this in any way except a kid being honest and comfortable and actually excited about one day seeing Jesus.  This is the best thing I could have heard.  Because I convey truth to them in a confident, loving manner, they are also confident and feel loved and secure.  They are not afraid of death- they know that their loving Lord will be waiting to be with them.

I wish I never had to have these conversations, but I am so happy that we know the Lord and have the wonderful promise that this life is not the end- that we will be together forever in heaven.  Please remember that kids really do pick up on your non-verbal cues.  There is nothing wrong with showing emotions, but remember what you know and believe- that this life is temporary and that even the worst things that can happen can never separate us from Jesus.  Hold your kids, kiss your kids, tell them you love them and pray with them constantly.  Let them see you go through things and let them see you bring it all to the Lord.  

Please keep those families and the other survivors in your prayers.  Their lives will never be the same again and they need the love and comfort that only Jesus can give.

*On a little more positive note, please stay tuned in to my blog posts, because in the next week or two I will be having my first ever give-a-way!  

Thursday, December 13, 2012


What I wrote today comes straight from the places in my heart I have not always been brave enough to go to these past couple of years.  Let's get right to it.

This past Sunday at church Jeff told me that he felt he had a small word from the Lord for us.  He said he felt the Lord was saying to “fast your tongue.”  A few days later, I felt the slightest whisper in my spirit saying “stay your hand.”  Fast your tongue.  Stay your hand.  

I think God is telling us to keep waiting.    

I don’t feel like He was telling us not to talk about our circumstance per se, but more telling us to hold our tongues as far as analyzing and planning goes.  When life gets difficult, it is all too easy to talk it to the ground.  Why are we here? What does God want us to do?  When is this going to end?  What can we do to get out of this?  And so on.  

I feel like the heart of what God is saying is for us to stop making decisions.  To stop trying to plan it out.  To stop trying to figure out what is going on.  To stop talking it into the ground.  To just stop.  

As far as staying our hands, this one is a bit more difficult.  Without going into specifics, Jeff and I have some major decisions to make in the very near future.  Things are coming to a head and after 2 1/2 years of walking the ever slimming path, it has now led us to a cliff.  We must do something or else we fall...and yet God has told us to wait.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take.  How far can you go before you fall?  And yet I find myself daring to believe again.  This small whisper is enough to have kindled what little ember I had left burning in me.  Here we are, standing on the cliff, with all sides closing in on us...and we are going to close our eyes and wait.  Wait to stand.  Wait to fall.  Wait for nothing.  Wait for everything.  I don’t really know, but the last time someone trusted God when there was no way out, the raging seas opened up and they got more than they even knew they were waiting for.

If I sound like a broken record, I don’t apologize.  We are all capable of waiting until we get impatient...until it gets grievously hard.  It is in the waiting that you learn the trusting.  There is an amazing scene in the movie Braveheart that shows just how important it is to wait.  The Scottish rebels have gathered to fight the unbeatable English army, and were using some rogue methods to try and win.  In this scene, the Scotts were kneeling down on the ground, holding large spears that they were going to use against the English cavalry.  The problem was, the only way to impale the horse riding soldiers was to wait until they were close enough to spear.  We see the cavalry charging the Scotts...and we can see their faces as their leader, William Wallace, tells them to “hold”.  The cavalry rages closer, and Wallace says “hold”.  The faces on the Scottish rebels are both anxious and fearful, and still Wallace yells “hold”.  And after the last possible second, when they could see the whites of their enemies eyes, Wallace finally yells “NOW” in a deep guttural voice.  Immediately hundreds of spears go up into the air and the mighty English cavalry was reduced to nothing in a matter of seconds.  The Scotts rose from their success and charged the remaining English army...and claimed their first victory.

Because that is what I think my God is capable of.  Because even though I am sweating and shaking, fearful and frightened, He knows just the right moment to unleash His glory.  It is charging.  It is charging fast...I can see the whites in the eyes of my enemies.  I can’t turn back, and I can’t go forward.  So I am going to fast my tongue and stay my hand...and wait until that glorious moment when My God comes forth in my life and says


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TMTT- Home-Schooling Interview Part 2

Good morning!  Today we have Part 2 of my homeschool interview!  In case you missed last week, I have interviewed 3 friends of mine who were home-schooled to some extent growing up.  They have answered questions that we had for them, and they have given great answers and many, many helpful insights and tips.

(And just in case you are "type A" and have noticed that each question is #1...yes I have noticed!  Something happens when I copy and paste it from a document, and the numbers all change to #1.  I'm working on it!!  lol)

  1. What program did your parents use? Did you like it?
Hallie: We used Advanced Training Institute (ATI), which stemmed off of Bill Gothard’s ministry. We also supplemented in most subjects, using a variety of curriculum and resources. ATI focuses on one major concept, character quality and scripture verse each month that ALL the subjects revolve around, and which ALL of the family members sit down and do together. In this “school bus” method we each would get off of different “stops”, therefore exploring the subject matter in an age-appropriate way. I very much liked this curriculum and plan to use it with my kids when they are older. To this day, I cite Bill Gothard as being one of the most influential people in my life because of how those two years prepared me for God’s calling on my life.

Darcie: My parents used a program called ATI (Advanced Training Institute) as the main curriculum and supplemented with other things occasionally. If it was not for this program, I think I would have HATED the academic side of being home-schooled. This program had a strong Biblical sense and every aspect of it was based around the Bible. Also, it had other subjects that were my favorite such as Law and Medicine. As a Christian, this made a difference in my life. I am not an academic type person that most home-schooled have as their stereotype. I would have hated sitting at a table and just bringing home what was done in a regular school environment. When I went to Bible College, I used my old curriculum often as references for my papers and projects. Also, now being in full time ministry, I use the principles found in the curriculum for a lot of counseling and teaching.

J: My parents used a good deal of ABeka and Christian Liberty, particularly in the earlier grades. For our Biblical training and instruction we used textbooks and storybooks from the Netherlands Reformed Church... I would have to dig up some of my childhood papers to remember the exact name of that curriculum, but it was really good and I credit most of my early understanding of Christian doctrine to that. I did like the curricula they used but again didn't have anything to compare it to for the most part. I balked when my parents tried to switch me to Saxon math in 8th grade... the different way of thinking and approaching math was difficult for me to wrap my mind around, so my parents kept me in ABeka math all the way through. My younger siblings, however, made the switch to Saxon earlier on. In general my parents picked pretty good programs as far as I can tell.

  1. Pros and cons (in your opinion) to homeschooling. 
Hallie: Pros- allows families to focus on what really matters in life all while PARENTS are the most influential people in a child’s life (as opposed to teachers and peers) Cons- depending on the family, home-schooling will take on the weaknesses of the one teaching, whether that be a lack of structure, academic excellence, or socialization. Also, the teacher/mother role can be tough to separate.

Darcie: Pros: Choosing what to focus on and the direction of what you want to learn. The ability to be done with school very early in the day as well as the flexibility in a schedule.
Cons: At first I hated not having the social daily involvement with other people (I am a social butterfly!) but because of my involvement with church and other activities I didn't hate it as much. A lot of home-schoolers have a lack in social skills. My family and I were not that family...but some of the other home-schoolers I was surrounded with were immature in social skills but very book smart. There needs to be a balance. I also did not like that I was not able to participate in sports and school plays.

J: Please note - not all of these pros and cons were a part of my experience... this is intended to be my somewhat 'comprehensive' pros and cons list.
Pros - Greater potential. Flexibility. Freedom to move at one's own pace. Possibility of an academic education far superior to that in the public schools. Chance to be surrounded by a Christian environment throughout critical formative years. Chance to develop and nurture closer family relationships than would otherwise be possible. Excellent chance to develop true analytical and critical thinking skills. Ironically, given the public school system's sham emphasis on everybody displaying 'originality' and 'being your own person' (in exactly the same socially acceptable ways, of course), homeschooling actually provides a better opportunity for a child to learn to think 'outside the box' or to develop a unique perspective on life. For those raised in a Christian home, this unique perspective is arguably a very good thing. Greater opportunities to freely explore individual talents and areas of interest. Smaller classroom sizes! (Lol.)
Cons - At the mercy of the parent's whims, which can be but isn't always better than being at the whims of a public/private school. Tendency towards over-isolation and underemphasis on social skills - can lead down the road to a lack of preparedness for the 'real world'. Is incredibly demanding on the parents. Science labs, phys ed, the arts, and social interaction can easily be neglected unless the parents are really vigilant in this area. Now that homeschooling has become somewhat mainstream, can be a breeding ground for all sorts of weird and highly counterproductive philosophies of education and child-rearing. Parents have to be vigilant on maintaining discipline and a strict schedule - homeschooling can easily become too freeform to where the kids never learn what it's like to stick to a rigid schedule or have deadlines.

8)pastedGraphic.pdf Did you ever get teased/feel like an outcast among other kids? How did you/your family handle it?

Hallie: No, I was a junior at that point. My younger siblings were never teased either, though.

Darcie: I never felt like i was an outcast among other kids. I know other home-schoolers have felt that way. I was confident and very social as a kid. I only got teased about being home-schooled when I got to college! Crazy! I also now being a young adult receive remarks about the fact that I was home-schooled. We chose as a family that we would not be known as "the typical home-schooled family!" We often teased my mom that she was not allowed to dress like a home-school mom. (You know what I am talking about!)

J: Yes. My main social interaction was with church and it wasn't until college that I found people that I fit in with - even though, there was a pervasive sense of not fitting in. I would be interested to hear from other homeschoolers if this is something that's just me, or if it's a common feeling among my fellow homeschooleds. Pre-college, I handled it by withdrawing socially and emotionally. I had no interests whatsoever in common with kids from my church so this was easy to do. In college, I made a determined effort to solve the problem of my social ineptness through observation and analysis of how people around me act. I've made some progress, but, as any of my good friends will attest, there is plenty more to be made. That's right Ashley - I'm referencing our conversation from this past Monday!

  1. Did you feel you socialized with other kids enough? How could this have been improved?
Hallie: My family is very social in nature, so my parents naturally allowed my siblings and I to be as well. My youngest brother, who was home-schooled his whole academic career, is one of the most relatable people I know (able to talk easily with old people, young people, church people, non-church people, etc.) It’s what you make of it. In our home-schooling circles I certainly did see a lot of non-socialized kids, though.

Darcie: We were socialized enough with other kids because we were involved with church, we had friends outside of the schools we attended, and we were part of a home-school co-op. I don't think that we personally as a family needed to improve on this.

J: No. And to be completely honest, I do not blame this on homeschooling. This is not intended to be self-deprecatory or a plea for attention and sympathy, but I was truly a WEIRD kid. As referenced above, I think this would have led to an unbearable level of bullying in a public or private school setting, so I actually think that in my case, homeschooling was the best option. I sometimes wish my parents had made a more conscious and deliberate effort to develop me socially as they did with me academically, but I was also incredibly stubborn and willful, so who knows if it would have worked?

10) Any tips for parents homeschooling for how to make it better for them and their kid(s)?

Hallie: Don’t stress about the little things. It will all get done eventually, but in the meantime don’t strain the precious relationships that God has given you. Make sure you have your child’s “heart.” If God and you have your child’s heart, they will not rebel or resent you in the long run.
The same teaching style/curriculum will not work for every child. Learn how they learn. Don’t pit siblings against one another by comparing or making things too competitive. Praise each for what they are good at.

Darcie: Oohh this is a great question! I think anyone who wants advice about who to make it easier for kids being home-schooled should talk to my mom! :)pastedGraphic_1.pdf My mom and dad are amazing parents. They really sought God in every decision regarding what we should do and not do as a home-schooled family. You need to know your children. Each child is different and each child has different needs. Since our school district was not allowing home-schooled kids to participate in sports, my parents fought to make that change. The law as now been changed. My parents knew I wasn't good at math~ they made me do math but they didn't get upset if I didn't ace the tests. My parents made us write a paper on the first day of home-school, making us describe our feelings. They told us we could be as honest as we wanted. We were! But then on the last day of home-school of that year, they had us write the same paper. Our feelings had mostly changed. They heard our concerns (or complaints!) and they worked with us. Be fun! Make memories. And don't compare your children. Some our academic, some our artsy, and others may be athletic. Your job as a parents is to train your child in the way they should go. My parents were pros at that. They knew I was called to be in ministry so they put as many opportunities in my path that would later on be of benefit to me.

J: I would beg and plead with ANY parent considering homeschooling to keep a couple of things in mind. You have a WONDERFUL opportunity to shape and mold your kids in ways that will completely shape their entire lives. It's staggering to think about the amount of time kids spend in public schools - 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for 12 years. That rough approximation gives 24,960 hours, and since I was homeschooled I don't need a calculator to know that. That is a HUGE amount of time and you can do so much with it. Don't waste ANY of it! You have the chance to bring up children, not in your image, but in God's image. Take full advantage of all of the potential benefits of homeschooling. Give your kids a great academic education - but that's only the start. Encourage them to explore their interests - find a church home and a homeschool group and get them involved with other kids. As a homeschool parent you are in charge of their social lives as well - don't neglect that!
Some warnings - and while I cannot speak as a parent, I can speak as a homeschooled child, and one who struggles daily with some of the things I'm about to warn about.
- Don't homeschool your children to protect them from the world - you are doomed to failure. Homeschool them because you believe you can better prepare them to face the world with all of its challenges.
- Instill a sense of discipline - this is SUPER important! Just because you homeschool doesn't mean you can start the day at 1pm and finish at 6pm. In the real world, most people still have 9-5 jobs, fixed schedules, and deadlines, and children need to learn this from an early age. Also, as a parent, you will completely fall apart if you can't maintain a sense of diligence and rigor - homeschooling is hard enough as it is.
- Don't be afraid to acknowledge your weaknesses. We all just flat out suck at some things. If you had to re-take algebra three times growing up, please don't try to teach it to your kids. Maybe your spouse can teach that subject. Perhaps there's a homeschool group or co-op in the area. If necessary, see if you can send the kid to a public or private school just for that class. By the time they get to those difficult subjects they should be ready to handle some exposure to the 'outside world' anyway. Would you try to teach your kids piano if you don't play? Of course not. So don't do it for the other subjects. It's a whole lot of work to micro-manage your child's education that way, but that's the challenge of homeschooling.
- Be vigilant to your child's emotional and spiritual well-being. While this isn't universally true, many parents who choose to homeschool do so because they wish to bring their child up in a Christian environment. Separating your kids from the secular environment of a public school doesn't magically solve all problems. If anything it places more of a burden on the parent to consciously set the example they want their kids to follow. So just be cognizant of that.
A concluding note: while my ramblings may not exactly come across as a glowingly positive review of the wonders of homeschooling, I AM glad I was home-schooled. My childhood was imperfect as everyone's is, so there are good things about it and not-so-good things. Homeschooling is not a 'perfect solution' because there are no perfect parents or perfect kids. However, I'm very thankful for the experiences I had growing up and have been very blessed in the short time I've been alive. I could not, for a second, wish away the wonderful good fortune I've had in my life, and I do truly believe that I've been so very blessed to have the friendships, relationships, and education that I have now as a result of my upbringing.

Excellent!!  Thank you so much to my friends for contributing...I took away many valuable tips on homeschooling!
Hope you all have a wonderful week, and I will see you Friday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Time to Stay

I am still very emotional over last Friday’s post.  After posting I felt exhausted and encouraged.  I was exhausted from pouring out my heart, but encouraged from all of the prayers and support that poured my way.  This post is simply me going through some remaining feelings I have about all this.

No, I am not doing any better physically, but that doesn't mean I am not right in the palm of His hands.  If this is my new normal for now, then I need to walk in it with grace and take a look at the things that I have gained in the the love and support of so many, and the chance to learn new lessons.  I wanted to share my story with you for several reasons.  Of course I was hoping that it would minister to someone, and I did feel like it would be good to share my heart...but I felt it would really help you understand a little more where me and my writing are coming from.  I know I seem intense a lot and it is not just because thats the way I am- it is also a product of the roads I have walked.  You are a culmination of your experiences, and that is why it is so important to know where you are and to remember the things that really count.  There is something so unique and so beautiful about who you are, and that is because you have developed a personhood in the mist of what life has brought your way...and you have a lot to offer from it.

I do see the sweet side of following the Lord- I truly do.  I know it is not all dark and twisty paths that we must walk.  I really do know that.  But life has ebbs and flows, and it is OK to be where you are.  I may be in a desert, but I know He has equally beautiful places.  I know that He is loving and kind, merciful and forgiving, generous and joyful.  When the Bible refers to God as the I Am, it’s because He really IS.  Right now, He is my shadow under the secret places.  One day, He will be my dance of joy.

Take time to just sit and be.  Take time to look around at where you are and where you have come from.  Take the time to really believe that this is all for a purpose...and that one day, it will all pass away and the only part of this that will remain are the things that you invested into eternity. 

I guess what I am trying to say to you, and to myself, is that it is OK to be where you are.  Not that you shouldn’t be seeking the Lord and following His leading, but that sometimes He leads you somewhere and then has you set up camp for a while...and thats OK.  There is a time to move and a time to stay- be very prayerful so that you know which is which. Being in a difficult place does not always mean that it is the wrong place. Don’t spend too much time analyzing how you got there or how you will get out- instead spend your time cultivating the land right where you are at, and the person you are while you are there.  

The journey really is the destination.

"Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you."   -Isaiah 54:10

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TMTT- Home-Schooling Interview Part 1

I just can’t start this post without first sharing my heartfelt thanks to you all.  The post I put out on Friday was by far my most read and comment on post since I started blogging.  I was completely overwhelmed by all of the comments, prayers, and support I received.  I felt so much love and so much encouragement from you and I just want you to know that it means the world to me.

And also, thank you for all the birthday wishes!  I had a wonderful day and a nice night out with Jeff.  Looking forward to being 29!

Today is a special post, and I have actually decided to split it up into 2 for today, and one for next Tuesday.  I interviewed 3 friends of mine that were home-schooled growing up and asked them questions about home-schooling from the perspective of the “kid”.  I am so happy with how this came out- I think it is very informative and helpful if you are a parent and home-schooling, and if not, it is still very amusing to hear the different perspectives.  A special thanks to my friends who took time out of their busy lives to answer all these questions...I am so grateful to them for letting us learn from them!

  1. So we know who you are, please say your name, age, how many siblings you have, how long you were home-schooled/what grades, and if you were not home-schooled for all grades, please say what grades you did public/private school. 
Hallie:  Hi, I’m Hallie McLaughlin, age 30, and I was home-schooled with my 4 siblings (one of them being Darcie Martone!) during grades 11 & 12. Prior to that I attended two different Christian schools. My parents made the decision to home-school, so we all came home at different points in our education.

Darcie:  My name is Darcie Lane Martone (Wiezorek)~ (Hallie's younger sister.) I am 27 years old. I have 4 siblings~ 2 older sisters, an older brother and a younger brother. I was home-schooled 7th- 12th grade. I went to a private Christian school from preschool thru 6th grade.

J:  "J" (not giving out my name on a public blog :P), 25, oldest of 6 children, home-schooled through 10th/11th grade, mixture of homeschool, prep school, and junior college in 10th-12th grades.

  1. What was your favorite thing about being home-schooled?
Hallie:  Flexible schedule (sleeping in, taking December off for “Christmas school,” able to help in ministry, etc.)  Able to spend more time focusing on “most” important things, like character-building, sibling bonding, spiritual growth, life skills, hobbies & interests, etc.

Darcie:  I would have to say that my favorite thing about being home-schooled was having the ability to focus on the subjects I was most interested in. I knew I was called into full-time ministry when I was 12 years old and in 6th grade. I was able to spend a lot of my high school years focusing on things that would prepare me for my future. I also LOVED the flexibility. I was able to start as a part time nanny when I was 16. I would do all my work in the morning and then at 12pm I would head to my job. I also was able to travel and visit my older sisters, help my mom by being the East Coast representative for a company. It was great!

J:  Being the oldest, homeschooling was all I knew, so growing up I didn't have a sense of comparison to public school or private school, or what other kids my age were experiencing. That made it more difficult to say things like "wow, I wish I got to spend 8 hours a day out of this house" or "I'm glad I get to spend my days here"... I hope that makes sense. I did enjoy the freedom to progress at my own pace, but I had no concept of what it would have been like to not have that freedom.

  1. Least favorite thing?
Hallie:  Home-schooling naturally takes on the strengths and weaknesses of the one teaching, so where we had a lot of creativity, spirituality and fun, we lacked academic structure. Having to make-up lost time (night or summer school)

Darcie:  My least favorite part about being home-schooled was not being able to participate in school sports and things like a school play. I also felt intimidated with certain subjects that I didn't feel I was good at and my parents were not either. (aka MATH!)

J:  Unfortunately, my home environment was not a particularly happy one (for reasons unrelated to being home-schooled). As I entered my teenage years I grew more conscious of not wanting to be at home, but since I had accelerated beyond the normal grade level for my age, I never had a wish to attend public school or private school. I guess I would say that I missed the opportunity to do more hands-on science lab type work.  
I would note that in discussing my favorite and least favorite things about being homeschooled, I've tried to answer from the perspective I had at the time. Those were my thoughts, as best as I can recall, at the time I was being homeschooled and I would give quite different answers now after 7 years of college and 3 years of being in the professional world.

  1. Did you feel it helped your family bond or did it have the opposite effect?
Hallie:  Home-schooling did more for our family bond than anything else I can think of. My sibling relationships still reap the benefit of those years spent together, and I am forever grateful.

Darcie:  Home-schooling most definitely helped with our family bond. Anyone who knows our family knows that we are extremely close. I also think that my parent's parenting style in the midst of home-schooling helped direct us to be close. We have a lot of inside jokes and memories linked to our time of home-schooling.

J:  This is a tough question to answer because of the number of other factors that have influenced my family bonds for better or for worse. I think that it did create a common experience among the 4 oldest of us, aspects of a childhood that were shared to an extent not present in every family... we had our own social dynamic that persists to this day. There is a more substantial age gap between the first 4 and the last 2 kids in my family, and starting at around 7th and 6th grades, the youngest two began attending private school. It's interesting to see that they're not as much a part of this bond that we older 4 siblings have.

  1. Did you ever wish you went to public school? Why?
Hallie:  No, I never wished to go to public school. My one brother regretted not being able to get involved in sports (we lived in the city, which was hostile to home-schoolers). I was old enough to understand the reasons my parents decided to bring us home, I had plenty of friends and socialization at that point, and was actually relieved to “be forced” to spend more time with family and God. 

Darcie:  I never wished that I went to a public school. I am grateful for my time at the private Christian school but in my mind public school was not something I felt I needed to experience. I had friends who were a part of public school and I felt they had a lot more drama and friend troubles than I ever had. Also, I never felt I missed out on life simply because I didn't experience public school. Being home-schooled helped me to mature quicker and to start my process of becoming a responsible adult.

J:  No. I had such a sheltered childhood that I honestly couldn't develop a realistic conception of what attending public school would be like. I was aware, however, that it would be distinctly less Christian than my upbringing, and wanted to have no part of that. I was also painfully awkward as a child, had no common interests with other kids my age as far as I could tell, and thus had a fear that I would be the target of unbearable bullying. Although my evaluation of my homeschooling experience is somewhat mixed, I remain quite thankful that I did not attend public school. I think I would have done very poorly in that environment - would have been unable to deal with the social element at that age, and would not have been at all equipped to deal with the level of bullying I think I would have experienced.

Hope you enjoyed this so far, and stay tuned because next week I will post the remaining 5 questions that they answered!