Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Trip to England: The Ultimate Field Trip

You have probably noticed that I have not blogged in a while. I have been having a major brain fog with blogging. Thankfully, our trip to England gives me plenty to share!

My husband is British so we try to make a trip every few years so that his elderly grandparents can see the children. Last time we went, Luke was only 2 so it had been a while. The kids were definitely excited!

Loaded up and ready to go!
Waiting for our plane

The moment we arrived we got to start visiting with family!

This was not our usual trip though! About 6 months ago my brother and sister in law had a baby girl and we were meeting her for the first time. She was absolutely precious and we loved playing and snuggling with her.

While we were there we even got to help celebrate Nana's 90th birthday!

These trips are primarily to visit family but we always try to get out and do a few educational activities. How can you not when you are in a country so rich with history?

Our first stop was Warwick Castle. It is a a well preserved castle and they had all kinds of interactive programs for the kids. Of course, with school in it was also pretty quiet. We explored the rooms and read the history and I even managed to climb the tower, during which I may or may not have cried for my fear of heights. I couldn't manage to allow myself or the kids to get too close to the edge, but even the view from where we were was spectacular and my husband so kindly took the photos I was too afraid to take myself. I closed my eyes while he did that.

Next on the list was a train ride in an area known as the Lake District. We had done this one before but this time we took a chance and drove further to get to a second train we had not done. The drive was long, but WOW, very few places could compare to the beauty of this part of England. At the end of the train ride was the quaintest little village I have ever seen. We stopped and had ice cream made from local milk. Delish!

Our last trip was to York. York is one of my favorite places to visit in England and I hadn't been since my oldest was a baby so it was almost brand new for me! Since we are studying medieval history, the Gothic architecture and the old Roman fort beneath York Minster were a homeschool mom's dream come true!

We are glad to be home, but will definitely cherish the memories we made on this trip. It really was the ultimate field trip!

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Emptying My "Hurt Closet"

I very recently worked and worked on a project. I am very good at starting things of all kinds, relationships, groups, projects, quilts... and the list goes on. Sometimes, after the ball is rolling fairly well on those things, I am glad to hand it off and let someone else continue it or finish it. I am not one of those people who find satisfaction in completion, but I do find a lot of satisfaction in laying solid foundations and working kinks out of things.

A few years ago, my husband made the comment to me that if he could work for someone else, then surely he could work for himself. He was just getting ready to finish heating and air school. I asked him if he was serious about wanting to do that. When he said yes, I got a notebook and a pen and proceeded to help him make a list of what we needed to get to be able to go into business on his own. The very next day we cashed out his retirement and procured a business license. He ran his first call a couple weeks later. Sixteen years and some months ago, I decided I wanted to get married. I met my husband on April 24th and married him 16 days later on May 10th. I have a knack for making things happen. It is just how I roll.

I jump into things with both feet, I don't necessarily look where I am going to land, exactly, I do, however,try make sure I can land and most of the time manage to not get hurt in the process. I give my whole self, my whole heart to my relationships and my projects.

The project I mentioned at the beginning, I worked on it and held it up when it would otherwise be hanging. I talked to everyone about it, garnered interest, and prayed diligently over it. People I trusted got involved and through my prodding and bringing it up ad nauseum, the project finally grew some wings. The process was fairly painful. I am a different sort of person, I suppose. I will be honest with you. I refuse to hide behind a curtain of any kind in order for people to "like me". Frankly, if people don't like me when they first meet me, it is a fair bet to say they won't later down the road, so I figure why put off the inevitable? Just be who you are are real from the get go and weed out those who will judge you and make assumptions about you do their own thing. The world works differently than that I suppose. Those I trusted with the project made judgments about my character that were just plain ugly. They made assumptions that were incorrect and rather than come to me, became cold and distant. It was not until I asked if there was a problem that they came forward about it.

I am not involved in the project that I worked on and prayed so hard over. I could not stomach the thought of ever being involved. I have prayed and prayed about this. I don't want to be resentful or bitter towards anyone that was involved. I went to them, in love, to try to fix the issues and I found myself being put on the defensive, they had no real complaint besides not liking the way I said something. I apologized as best I could and explained what I said. But, it made no real difference. Their mind was already made up.

Another group I was involved with also caused me a lot of hurt. I don't know why Christians seem to be so intent on hurting one another. In the process of "showing love" and "ministering" to someone, a person made a derogatory comment about black women. It was ugly. I did not say anything at the time, because I was SHOCKED and all the words that came to my mind were not fit to be said aloud and two wrongs do not make a right. I could not believe that she had said what she did. I know that racism and prejudice still exist, but I was floored by this. It made me sad for my children that someone would make judgments concerning them based on the color of their skin. Another time one of the members were speaking of ministering to a child who had a physical injury, they said the child said their Dad did it. I asked if it had been reported to the proper authorities. No one said that it was but "they were sure it had been". I insisted that someone had to tell about it and I was rebuked in class, in front of everyone. They only wanted their feel good story about how they went out of their way to minister to this poor kid who lived in a bad neighborhood because they went and fed them and played games with them. They did not want to take real responsibility or really help in anyway that may be uncomfortable for them. When I got home, I called the child abuse hotline, but without more information, nothing could be done. Another person voiced their "concern" about a couple of my kids' reading ability. She approached me as if I had no idea of their struggle. I tried to listen to her concerns and tried to explain the problem they were having, but she did not really listen. She did not offer new solutions that I had not already tried. She certainly did not offer any practical help that would cause any work for her. It was as if she only wanted to announce the problem and not be a part of the solution.

I lost my desire to attend this group. So we started going sporadically. When we would go a few weeks without attending this group, no one called. No one came by. No one seemed to care. But when we went back, there they all sat, exclaiming how we should be a "community" and build relationships. I wanted to scream at them - there is something wrong! Can't you see?!

At the end of the day, I could not fix what caused any of these people to act the way they did, that is a problem with their hearts. But I could commit to praying for them and try to love them regardless. I was at a bit of a loss about how to do that so I put it all in my "hurt closet" and closed the door. Surely if I ignored the problem and just told myself that people are deeply flawed and I needed to find more grace to give them, that would make me feel better. I would be less hurt.

That did not work. Through my own self denial of being hurt and berating my own mind for feeling hurt, I felt bitterness starting to grow. I was back at a loss of what to do.

Today, during some quiet time I had, I found this: "But I say to you who listen, Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you ... If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them ... But love your enemies, do what is good and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

I am not suggesting that either one of these groups of people are evil or hateful or are even my enemy, they are not. They did treat me wrongly. They did mistreat me. But, putting things in a "hurt closet" is not letting things go. Ignoring a cluttered mess doesn't make it any less messy. That is not how to show the love of a Father who, in his word, says he is gracious to to the ungrateful and evil. Am I any better than God that I should be less gracious, less merciful than he is?

With this being said, I also believe that it is okay for me to know that they don't "get" me, they don't even try, and they don't accept me for me. I don't have to keep "clearing things up". I don't have to keep trying to convince them that they are wrong about me. It is *okay* for them to think whatever they want, because when I stand before Christ, He is not going to ask me what they thought and I am not going to care. The only thing that matters is what Jesus thinks of me.

Today, I am completely emptying my "hurt closet". Even though I am not typically a "finisher" of things, this is done. All of this is finished. I am laying this all at the feet of Christ and going forward. I am letting go of the expectations that I had. I am going off of the defensive. I am going to make sure that should any of the people in these groups come to me and ask forgiveness, I can freely and gladly offer it to them. I have taken concrete steps toward this goal. I am allowing myself to shed the tears that needed to be shed instead of denying them. My feelings were hurt. But, I have an intimate relationship with the healer.

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