Monday, May 22, 2017

Fruitful Labor

  I am writing this post not to give advice. In fact, I feel the least qualified to give you advice right now. Rather, I write to confess and hold myself accountable to the standard to which I believe God holds me. I didn't write this with grand intentions of it being read, so it is my unedited pouring out of my heart and is a bit wordy.

  I have reached the point of homeschooling at which I no longer look forward and see no end. My youngest is 8 and while that seems to be still early, having two children enter young adulthood has given me perspective on how little time I actually have left to be the primary influence in my children's lives. In 5 years, I will graduate my daughters and God willing send them off to college. FIVE years. You know what that means? It means I have fewer years left with them than have passed with them. We are well over the half-way mark. They are no longer young children. We have entered the "train them to be adults" stage. In five years, as my girls enter independence, my son will then be entering young adulthood.

   Even with at least ten to go with my son, the dynamics of his sisters being done with school will change my season in an exceptional way. In this very season, I see my own "freedom" slowly increasing. My children no longer need me to make breakfast or lunch for them. They are developing their own interests and desire more and more to express their freedom in spending time away from home. My kids have Starbucks get to-gethers. STARBUCKS GET-TOGETHERS. Seriously, I drop them off and they drink smoothies and talk girl stuff with friends. My son gets out of the car at the park and runs off to play while I am able to sit and read my Bible or listen to the radio. Gone are the days of me following him around the playground because he wanted me to watch all of his cool tricks. If not for the legal ramifications I would feel no fear in leaving him there to play by himself for an hour or so.

  This is a season of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Of realizing just how quickly time passes. Of meditating on how "life is a vapor that quickly passes away". It has also been a difficult time for me, but not in the way you would expect. You see, I have no sadness at all over my children growing up. Not because I didn't love them being little, or because I don't love them now. It is rather because I have come to terms with the fact that God did not mean for me to keep them forever. Never were these children mine to cling on to. In fact, we are told to "raise up" our children and I am perfectly content to know that soon, I will no longer carry the responsibility of their every need and that my days will no longer be focused on their spiritual and academic training. Of course, I don't abdicate it completely when they move out, nor do I plan to kick them out the day they turn 18, but even if they stick around, they will for the most part, be solely responsible for their own choices.

  So where is my difficulty? Contentedness, perseverance, faithfulness, pride, idolatry, and obedience. Wow, I am a worse sinner than I realized. Isn't that always the case? I sit here between two seasons realizing that I am not meant to bear the weight of child-raising forever, but also realizing how deeply I allowed my family to become an idol which leaves me grasping for identity outside of them. Let's not kid ourselves. As homeschool parents we are with our children nearly 24 hours a day in their younger years and only slightly less as they grow older and start doing their own thing. Multiply that by 18 years (minimum) and that's a lot of hours. To continue that, we are constantly cooking, cleaning, teaching, refereeing, bathing, changing, disciplining, and training. From a worldly perspective it is a tireless and thankless job and it is very easy to take on the perspective of the world. It is very easy to feel as if we deserve more than what we are getting and it is very easy to mask that discontentment in piousness. "Oh, how I wish I could do more ministry!", Oh, how I wish I could go to more Bible studies!", "If I didn't have to be at home all the time I could be so much more effective for Christ!". If only becomes our battle cry and we settle into discontentment and even resentment, going through motions, but completely forgetting our identity and joy is in Christ not in the activities we are doing ,even if they are "for Him". And so the idol of "get my children to grow up so I can focus on me centered activities that I have convinced myself are better than the calling God has given me now", grows. In the process of this growth we become weary and forgetful of what faithfulness and obedience actually is. In my case, I came very close to disconnecting and just doing what I needed to do until it was over. What a rotten way to raise children.

  To top this off, young adults have a way of giving you a major reality check. They ask questions they never would have considered as a child and you come face to face with the reality of sending them out into our post-modern-technology-dominated world. They trade physically draining you to mentally draining you. Perhaps, what is most important though, is that they remind you that faith is not absorbed by osmosis. You must look at your own faith and come to terms with whether you really trust that God is sovereign and you must look at your view of how His sovereignty works in your child's salvation. Finally, you must recognize that you cannot save or unsave your child no matter how miserably you failed or gloriously you succeeded in being a "good" parent.

 This has been a hard lesson for me. Don't get me wrong, my children show encouraging fruits of true saving faith, and my hope is no longer in my ability to force my faith on them, but up until their teen years I genuinely took it for granted that they were believers. Their good, but extremely challenging questions were eye opening and humbling to say the least. I had set myself up as their Holy Spirit, had set the criteria for salvation, and had judged them saved. Pretty arrogant, huh? I had literally made myself God and the result of this was a crashing of my world when I realized exactly how not God I am. But Praise be to the One True King that the result of my crash has been to, albeit feebly, hand my children over to the actual Giver of Life. Let me tell you, while my flesh found the experience terrifying, (I was physically ill for over a month), my spirit has found such peace that I would not be able to find the words to blog it. My Father has no doubt tested my faith and brought to light many sins I was not dealing with. He has reassured me of my own salvation as I had no where else to run but to Him and he has given me a boldness to share my struggles that has been met with an answer to prayer in the form of several Godly women I have come to confide in. The faithfulness of the Father during these last few months has brought me to tears more than once. Especially, considering how flaky I can be.

  Lest I sound like my sins have been completely conquered in the last 3 months, let me talk reality. Daily, I struggle with the desire to expend the mental energy it takes to have 2 young adults in my house for any amount of time, much-less the amount of time they spend here as homeschoolers. Daily, I have found myself fighting not to just stack their books in front of them, grab the 8 year old and sit at the park all day. Daily, I have to confess pride, discontentedness, lack of faith, and a number of other selfish sins. At this moment I find it physically uncomfortable to have my children spend any large amount of time in my personal space. Something that is a big deal in our home as we have always been very physically affectionate in our home. I am struggling not to look too far ahead, but also being joyful in the coming season. Some days I have to sneak off to pray multiple times, some days I read scripture, know what the application to my life should be and then completely get it wrong all day long. Some days I still judge my success over my perceptions of what my children should look like in my own eyes. Most days I forget, even if only for a short time, that my job is obedience and faithfulness. Sanctification is slow and painful, but the Lord is faithful and I believe the promise of Paul in Philippians that "He will bring it to completion" and I am grateful, that "where sin does abound, grace abounds that much more".

  I am fighting to finish strong and to place my expectations solely in the promises of the Father and the work of Jesus by the power the Holy Spirit. One day my season will change and I believe that God will give me more freedom in what I choose to do for His Glory, but for now my calling is my children and it is my greatest desire to prove my love for my God by loving my children and being obedient to that call that my labor may be fruitful.

  On a practical note, I have been studying Philippians in depth. I believe whole heartedly that the Spirit providentially led me to scripture that is primarily about being content and joyful. If you are struggling, I strongly suggest spending sometime meditating on Philippians.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Update from the Molders

It has been forever since I have written a blog. I just petered out. It became work. So, now that I have had a nice long break here I am back at it!

Of course, in those two years life moved on. Boy did it. We moved back to town. Two years in the country taught me that things are much more romantic on paper than they are in real life sometimes. There were good things about it that I am glad we experienced. Over all, we are back home.

My daughter has "retired" from gymnastics. This in itself was a HUGE change for us. It was time though and we are slowly learning to live without it. She misses it more than I do.

My son started formally schooling and has learned to read. My last child is reading. I will never teach another one of my children to read. That is bitter sweet.

My oldest will be in Jr.High this year. For real. Which brings me to why I felt inspired to pick up my virtual pencil and start writing my thoughts down again. I need to be able to get my thoughts out without annoying those around me.

I suppose the best place to start would be our plans for this year. I have several friends who have been attending Classical Conversations the past few years. In all honesty, I have never been that drawn to it until I read about the Challenge level. On paper it looks fantastic and what I hope my oldest will gain from it, is more of the supplemental aspects of being able to discuss in group settings than for it to be our core so I think it is worth a try. Since my oldest will already be there, the other two will also attend. It just makes sense. I reserve my judgment on the Fundamental levels until I see our campus in action. I am cautiously optimistic though.

There is also a second co-op (I KNOW. I am nuts.) that we will be participating in. This is one of those co-ops that offers everything and is stupid hard to get into. In fact, we were originally denied but were offered a space about two days before all of the fees were due. That was fun. We are going to use it mostly for fun classes. My oldest is taking a cooking class, the middle and youngest is taking some sort of science class with hands on stuff. We are only tied into it on a month to month basis, unlike CC, so if it doesn't work all we really lost was our deposit and that month's tuition.

Both of the girls are doing First Lego League. This has been a fantastic experience for them. I highly recommend looking into it if your child is interested in robotics. It has been not only a great experience from the robotics, but also from having to work together to problem solve in a group setting. As soon as Luke is old enough he will definitely be joining in.

Brianna was accepted into the Jr. Zookeeper program at our local zoo. It was quite an intense process as she had to interview, present a speech and prove she really wanted the position. She was so very well prepared when we went in though and I could not have been prouder.

Considering that Brianna will have a large work load with CC I want to be very careful about what we do outside of that so I plan on working more around their interests this year while still getting in the basics. Brianna will start Teaching Textbooks since she really needs to take her math a little bit slower. Keira will continue on with Christian Light Education. Her math needs are much more intense since she intends on going into an engineering field. Luke will do TT because at the moment he just needs the basics.

There you go. It wasn't that interesting, but it is a start. See you next time!

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Emily Grace - Forever Loved, Missed for a Short While

Emily Grace
Forever Loved

Her name is Emily Grace and she lived. She was a tiny little human. Emily was growing tiny fingernails and the blondest eyebrows. She was hearing her world through her mother’s womb for the first time. She probably jumped in surprise when her sisters screeched with delight when they played. She was gaining weight, length, and fingerprints. She was mastering the fantastic skills of moving her eyes back and forth under her still sealed eyelids and using her mouth to practice sucking. She moved and played and snuggled into her mom. 

 And then something happened and Emily left the confines of her mother’s body and her soul entered into a glorious place. A place where she will know peace and contentment. A place of hope and beauty. A place to wait for that day when she gets her new body and her parents, siblings and family will join her. For her mother, father and all the rest of her family, this was a tragedy. For her, it was a homecoming. 

When my sister handed her to me for the first time, I could not believe how teeny tiny she was. A whopping 5 ¾ inches long and 4.3 ounces and carefully wrapped in a receiving blanket. I loved her the moment I heard my sister was pregnant with her, and I loved her even more after I laid eyes on her. Her tiny baby hands and sweet little baby toes, her little blond eyebrows and broad shoulders are etched into my memory. As her Aunt Amy said, “She had ears that were made for earrings.” She was so small and so light, I was afraid I would drop her. 

 I remember trying not to be a hysterical mess and thinking I needed to stop crying. I wanted to be strong for her mom, my precious sister. But the more I thought of how I would miss her, miss seeing her grow up, miss seeing if she got my sister’s sweet spirit and her father’s conscientiousness, the more I wept. 

I thought of how her brothers and sisters would never on earth be able to play with her, to sing to her, or to tell her she was getting on their last nerve and I cried some more. I nearly cried that horrible ugly cry when I thought of her parents and their deep, wounding grief. We, Emily’s family, will miss her and think about her and look forward to meeting her again in Heaven. 

Emily was more than a “late miscarriage”. Emily Grace, even though small, was her mother’s baby. She lived and is cherished and loved. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day As you go about your day, remember those precious lives that were gone too soon and the families that desperately wanted and loved them. 

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Monday, June 29, 2015

This World is Not Our Home

This is a guest post from my friend, Tami Minor.

I don't expect nonChristians to base their lives on Christian principles. Why would they seek to honor a God they don't know, don't understand, or have outright rejected? So, it doesn't surprise me at all if a nonChristian's behavior is in contradiction to the Bible. I am always disappointed though when a Christian's behavior contradicts Biblical principles, especially when that Christian is me.

Many times over the years, my children would witness or hear of different behaviors and ask me why the people involved behaved that way. "Why do they dress so immodestly, or speak so unbecomingly? Why do they do drugs or get drunk? Why do they commit adultery, or have abortions, or murder, or steal?" I always say ,"Because they don't know the Lord. Because they aren't walking with God... or because they aren't Christians." 

NonChristians have their own morality based on what they think or feel or based on another religion altogether. A Christian's morality is based on the Bible. As Christians, we believe that disobedience to God is sin. The truth is, my worst sins occurred after I became a Christian. So daily, I go to the cross of my Lord and seek forgiveness. I desire to live rightly, and in obedience to the Bible.... one hymn refers to this concept as "absolute sway." I strive to do this. 

Do I wish the world didn't perceive Christians as backward, misinformed, or foolish? Sure, I do, but the Bible says to expect that. Do I wish that Christians weren't beheaded or otherwise persecuted for their faith? Of course, I do, but Jesus taught us not to be caught off guard by the hatred of this world. Do I wish, really truly wish, that the community in which I live, even the state, the country, the world was predominantly Christian and that my children could grow up that way, with predominantly Christian influences on tv, on the internet, at the movies, on billboards, on the news, in schools, everywhere? Of course I do, but I do not expect it. Christian behavior is about Christ. I admit I like the idea of the security of living inside a Christian bubble. 

But Jesus tells us to take Him outside. I am not an effective witness. But He is an effective God. If the world behaves in a worldly way, it is completely in line with its nature. I am supposed to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. Frequently, because of my beliefs, people I love will be on one side of an issue and I am on the opposite side. And strangely enough, it wasn't about sides at all for me. But if an earthquake splits your home, your neighborhood, or your country down the middle, people are going to fall on one side or the other. I am just attempting to live rightly and to honor God with that attempt. 

Can we honor God and love others? I don't think we can honor God unless we love others. Can we honor God without obedience. No, we can't. So sometimes, my children, ask me why Christians behave badly. "Why do they dress so immodestly, or speak unbecomingly, etc etc." I tell them that sadly, Christians aren't always obedient, but that God has made provision for that...that if we will turn from our disobedience, He will forgive us...that being Christians doesn't make us perfect, but that it daily perfects us. Christians are peculiar. Not because they seek to look different, but because following a scriptural mandate for behavior makes them look different. 

If you are a nonChristian, this is your world. I am just passing through.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Day in the Mind of an Extrovert

7am- wake up thinking "wow, I am sure glad I have no where to go today after being so busy the last few days"

7:03am- I AM SO BORED AND LONELY! I wonder what we can do today to get out of the house?
7:04am- update Facebook status
7:06am- Check status to see if anyone has replied. Decide that I should give it a few more minutes
7:08am- Still no replies. Did I make everyone angry? Maybe it just wasn't funny enough. Change status to something funny.
7:10am- Check status for replies. 1 like but no replies. What is wrong with me today?! Message friend 1 with my entire plan for the day.
7:15- friend still hasn't replied so message friend 2 with the same information and head off to get ready.
7:15-9:00am- Homeschooling requires me to spend some time not waiting on FB replies, but I spend the entire time wondering how many likes and responses I will find when I get back on.
9:30am and friend 1 still hasn't replied. Why is she mad at me? Think, think, think, what have I done or said? Ohh my goodness. The other night when we were out I said I didn't like onions. Maybe she thinks that because I don't like onions and she does that I don't like her. STUPID. How could I not have thought of that before I said it?!
9:31am Text friend 1 a veiled joke about onions to see if she is mad at me. Friend replies with LOL and tells me she is at the doctors office. Pretty sure she is lying and is really just hiding from me.
10:00am-as long as friend 2 will tolerate it, I "drive by Facebook" with her. At least I still have 1 friend in this lonely cruel world.
10:30am- See pictures of friend at doctors office with her sick child and realize she may have been telling the truth. Text soon after inviting us to a play date confirms she is not angry. Feeling stupid that I thought my friend was actually angry with me over onions.
11:00am- I have got to get out of this house! I am going to go crazy with this isolation. I would give a pound of flesh just to be near someone, anyone. I would even consider a trip to Walmart! Unfortunately, homeschooling is still calling so I spend the next 3 hours "drive by Facebooking". At least a few people have finally responded on my status. I reply within seconds. They make fun of me for Facebook stalking.
1:00pm- I am literally drained from being alone. I love my kids, but they don't fill my socialization cup. I am mentally and physically exhausted.
3:00pm- Finally, it is time to leave the house. All I am about to do for the next 5 hours is sit, but as long as I am near someone I don't care.
5:00pm- We are at my daughter's gymnastics practice. I sit and where it isn't too impolite, I interject or strike up conversations with strangers around me.
9:30pm- Come home and regret having talked a perfect strangers ear off. Pretty sure she didn't need to know the details of how my first child entered the world. Assume that they will purposely avoid me from now on.

I am pretty sure anyone not an extrovert is reading this as if I was speaking a foreign language. I cannot explain what happens in my brain during the day. I cannot explain why when I do not get an instant response I assume that someone is angry with me. That is almost never the case and the reasons I come up with for the pretend anger are almost always ridiculous to the point of being stupid. I cannot explain how being alone tires me so much, and even depresses me. All I know is that I am not trying to be annoying. I am not trying to be nosy or rude. I am not trying to not give you a chance to talk. When I sit at home by myself it is boiling inside of me and when I finally get somewhere I can speak it explodes. We extroverts have to work hard to be sure we are practicing some self-control, but we definitely appreciate the grace our introverted friends give us when we go a bit over the top!

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Homeschooling Confession

I am probably getting kicked out of the homeschool club for this one.

Confession: I hate reading out loud. I hate the way my voice grows weak and feels tired. I hate the work behind it only to have to work to keep the kids' attention.
I am an excellent read to myselfer.

But I am a homeschool mom. I am pretty sure I am supposed to love to read out loud. I have skated by with audio books (Story of the World on audio - For The Win!) and audio books from the library.  If Apologia put their science books on audio, I would probably be farther than lesson four after working on it for two years. And no,  I am not kidding.  We just wrapped up chapter four.  I even got the audio for First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind.

Unfortunately,  my 6 year will not cooperate in my read aloud avoidance. She is an excellent reader but she wants to sit on my lap and give me things to read to her. Because she is the baby and really cute, she can normally talk me in to it.

She has done it enough that recently the children got done listening before I got done reading. I found myself liking it.

Now, I am not promising to like it again, and I am not promising to actually finish "The Wind in the Willows" but it does at least seem possible!

It just goes to back up what I tell the kids,  with enough practice, you can do pretty much anything.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

When Adoption isn't Wonderful

Growing up, I wanted to be a mother. I did not desire to do anything else but be a wife and mom. I got married at age 21 and one year later my husband and I were told children would not be a part of our future unless we tried some expensive things, and even then it was not a guarantee. I grieved that. I grieved the loss of my fertility, the loss of my childhood dream, the loss of all the children I wanted and would not have. People asked us, "Why don't you just adopt?" Don't say that, by the way, to someone who is infertile. It is rude, unkind, and only demonstrates a lack of knowledge and empathy for their heartache.

Why did we not "just adopt". It sounded so simple, find a kid who needs a home, fill out a few forms, and voila! Instant family. There are so many children available and waiting for a family. Sure they may have some issues, but all kids have issues. With enough love and stability and consistency, everything will work out and be fine. You will all be grateful for one another.

After my husband and I were married 7 years, we decided to pursue foster parenting. We were placed with over 23 children in the 4 years we were foster parents. It was an amazing time that really taught me a lot. Two of those children we would eventually adopt. They were 5 and 10 months when we got them. You would think, well I thought, that if you got a child young like they were, then everything would be okay and eventually adjustments would be made and everything would be awesome.

You know that lady in the news that sent her kid back to Russia with a note pinned to him? I am not saying that was the right thing to do, but I know how she got to that point.

I know how it is to raise a child that refuses to do a thing that she is told, unless she can clearly see how it will benefit her, and even then it is questionable.

I know how it is to have a child yell at you because you expect them to do something as silly as their homework or clean up after themselves.

I know how it is to be slightly afraid to go to sleep at night because you really don't know what is going to happen when you are sleeping.

I know how it is to wake up mad before the day even starts. It is an anger that pervades your entire being and you can't talk yourself out of it and it doesn't wear off and fade away with time.

I know how it is to be tired. I am not talking about physical tiredness, although that is a part of it, I am talking about a mental and emotional tiredness that rivals the tiredness of someone who hasn't slept in three days. There is an exhaustion that can not be contained and it bleeds into every part of your life.

I know how it is to live with someone who makes you question your sanity.

I know how it is to live with a child that doesn't just lie, but is incapable of telling the truth.

I know how it is question and wonder at motives behind every good deed because you know you are being manipulated in some way or are being set up to be manipulated.

I know how it is to have more therapy appointments than you know how to juggle and then be told that those therapy appointments are going to happen *daily*.

I know how it is to question how you can give another dollar, another second of your time, another ounce of energy and more of your heart towards a cause that seems to be lost.

I know how it is to know that no matter how desperately you want to fix someone, that there is nothing you can do, because that child doesn't see the problem in themselves, only their circumstances, and therefore they only choose to try to control their circumstances rather than themselves.

I know how it is to have guilt nearly eat you up because, somehow or another, this has got to be your fault. I am the mom, the fixer of dinner, boo boos and life in general. I should be able to fix this. Why can I not fix this?

I wish I knew what to say to those parents that are engaged in this same struggle. I only know to say that I am praying for myself, my family and my fellow adoptive parents. I am regularly crying out to God on our behalfs for mercy and for peace.

I am praying for healing for my child, who has been hurt with severe hurts by the birth family that was supposed to love her and protect her.

When adoption is good, it is very good. When it is hard, it is very hard. For some people, it is always hard and everyday is a trial. It is hard to be reminded *everyday* that you are not enough. For some people it is a reminder that no matter how much you want to love and help and show God's mercy and grace, that you are not God.

Thankfully, I know who God is. I know that He is capable of healing my broken, hurting child. I know that He is the restorer of relationships and righteousness and the healer of all hurts. I know that He authors forgiveness and He alone digs up roots of bitterness. Even though I want Him to do all this now, I know He will do this in His time for willing souls. I pray for that willingness for me and my child.

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