Thursday, August 8, 2019

Trusting God


Proverbs 3:5-6   Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

There are soooooo many reasons to be anxious, aren't there?   I get anxious about our society and government and crazy dark world every time I see a headline or read a news article. Going to the beach is out - have you seen how many Great Whites are lurking out there, along with the riptides?!  Everything I put in my mouth or breathe in or spread on my body  is going to absolutely ruin my health.
And homeschool mamas, we also face the fear of ruining our kids' lives because we don't really know what we are doing.  So there's that.

* Trust = to wholly and entirely rely on; to be completely confident and secure in

We mamas usually have a pretty short list of who we will trust with the well-being of our kids. And you have to really have a long and solid relationship with someone to trust them with your deepest feelings and fears.

Can I trust God?
  • God is FAITHFUL.   I can read Scripture and see how God has been faithful to lead, protect and provide for His people over and over and over. I can look at my own life, and see how God has been faithful to lead and protect and provide.  Little things and big things.  * Having a son who wanted to play high school baseball before homeschool teams existed and a year long inquiry into whether he could play on a school team as a homeschooler which resulted in an answer of "no, that isn't possible". Telling him that his dad and I had prayed and still felt that homeschooling was the right choice for our family, and his acceptance of that. Followed within a week by a phone call from a friend who was starting a homeschool baseball team (Wake Co. Warriors). God cares about our desires.   *  Or a sweet Christian retired teacher who was teaching a homeschool writing class (again, before this was a THING and was the only class in the whole wide area, but the class was full when I heard about it through a friend and inquired -  but a week later she called to tell me she was adding one more student to her class because she had a DREAM where God told her to add my child. 😮  okay, you've GOT my attention, Lord.  Yes, you provide! Not in every single instance when I've prayed for something - but in those cases you've also been teaching me. Sometimes I THINK I need something, but you want to show me you'll still provide for my family even WITHOUT that thing that I really thought was necessary!!!   Lamentations 3:22-23 – “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.”        2 Timothy 2:13 – “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 – “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” 

  • God is LOVING John 3:15 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in His should not perish but have eternal life. " God sent His own Son to pay the penalty and take the punishment for MY SIN, in MY PLACE, so that I could be reunited with Him. That's how much He loves me. The whole Bible is God's love letter to me. 

  • God is ALL-KNOWING & WISE  I wish I could see the future. I wish I could know without a doubt that my actions and choices and decisions today will produce good in the end, and not lead to disaster!  I do not KNOW ENOUGH to believe that my decisions are fault-less. But God knows everything, sees everything, Psalm 139:1-4 "You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with ALL my ways. Before a word is on my tongue -  LORD, you know it completely!"   Psalm 147:4-5 " He determines the number of stars and calls them by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has NO LIMIT." Romans 11:33  "Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable are his ways!"

  • God is ALL-POWERFUL.   He is sovereign and rules with authority over all things - including my family, my finances, my time, my decisions.  Everything that comes into our lives must pass by Him first. He is the Creator, Author, Master, Redeemer, Refuge, Ransom, Anchor, King.  Revelation 4:11  "Worthy are you, Our LORD and God, to receive glory and honor and POWER, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."  Matthew 19:26  "But Jesus looked at them and said, ' With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'  What a relief that this all-powerful God is also faithful, loving & wise!

Not saying that any of you watch  "The Bachelorette", but if you did, you might have heard the word "clarity" about a gazillion times this past season. Because aren't we ALL looking for CLARITY???  God, give me a sign!  Put up a billboard, with flashing lights, please!  Open a door!  Close a door!  Let me put out a fleece and if it is wet in the morning then I'll know ... or is it supposed to be dry to be a sign from you????
agh!!   Because we DON'T KNOW ENOUGH!. We don't TRUST ourselves. We are fickle and tend to make emotional decisions and later regret them.
Just last week, as I was working on this devotion, I found this story on clarity in a book I am reading. 
"When John Kavanaugh, the famed ethicist, went to Calcutta, he was seeking Mother Teresa... and more.  He went for 3 months to work at the "house of the dying" to find out how to best spend the rest of his life. [ no small decision!] When he met Mother Teresa, he asked her to pray for him.
'What do you want me to pray for?' she asked.
He then uttered the request he had carried for thousands of miles.
'Clarity. Pray that I have clarity.'
'No,' said Mother Teresa, 'I will not pray for that.' [ yikes!!!]
When he asked why, she said, 'Clarity is the thing you are clinging to and must let go of. '  When Kavanaugh said that she always seemed to have clarity, the kind of clarity he was looking for, Mother Teresa laughed and said,
'I have NEVER had clarity. What I have always had is TRUST. So I will pray that you trust God.'"
How could your homeschool year be transformed if you could learn to trust God like that?!

Now I can tell you that God can be trusted with your most precious possessions, and you can read that God is trustworthy, but how can you really know that He can be trusted?  In order to trust someone THAT MUCH, you have to really know him.  So that is my advice to you.  Make KNOWING GOD your #1 priority this year. 
Bible study, prayer, meditation, worship =>  NOT. OPTIONAL.

ACKNOWLEDGE : to KNOW, to OWN;  not simply give a nod to, but to recognize the authority, power, wisdom, goodness, and providence of HIM, because you have a deep knowledge and connection with Him (as deep as lovers, people) ; you KNOW him.
God created you.
He created your children.
He knows you better than you know yourself.
He loves you more than you can fathom.

So what are you anxious about?  What do you think you area messing up?  Is God not able to work through you despite your weaknesses?  According to the Bible, He sure can. Do you have to pick the perfect curriculum and have a perfectly scheduled day and all the money and endless patience and perfectly behaved kids to be a successful homeschool mom? I think not.  Look at Abraham.  Not perfect.  Look at David.  Not perfect. Look at Rahab. Not perfect. Look at Peter. Not perfect.  Only one person has ever been perfect.  The rest of us - every person in the history of the world?   A mess! 

This doesn't mean Easy!  It doesn't mean your kids will do all their schoolwork cheerfully, neatly, and on time!  They might throw fits. They might argue with you and fight with each other. You might have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.  It means IF we TRUST HIM and don't try trust in our own abilities instead, and if we KNOW Him, THEN He will direct our paths to the destination that is GOOD and BEST! Despite all the mess.  The journey might be bumpy, but the destination is glorious.  Would you rather have an easy journey that ends in destruction? or a difficult journey that ends in GLORY?

If you truly KNOW God, then you will LOVE Him. If you truly love Him, you will TRUST him. If you love and trust Him, you will OBEY Him.( not my words, don't remember where I read them) 

Matthew 6: 25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[ And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Why You Should Go to a Homeschool Conference

As I sat at the table at Tuesday night's Lighthouse "Teacher Appreciation Night", asking the other moms when they were finishing their homeschool "year", I was reminded of the many years when the end of our school year was marked by "Conference"!  


I went to my first NCHE homeschool conference in 1994, a few months before we actually started homeschooling. I was eager to start but my husband was very hesitant about the whole idea - however attending Conference, seeing all those families and their kids (and it was a fraction of the number that now attends), seeing all that was available in the vendor fair, and hearing encouragement from the speakers gave him the confidence to give the green light and agree that we should try homeschooling for at least a year. 
For the next 23 years, the NCHE Conference in Winston-Salem was an annual "must do" on our calendar. We considered homeschooling my career, and because we wanted me to be as equipped and informed as possible, attending these workshops was part of my "professional development".  A couple of times we went as a couple for a weekend getaway. A lot of years we all went as a family - with strollers, backpacks, snacks, Odyssey tapes (yes - cassette tapes! ) and coloring books. Other years it was a girls' weekend for me - sharing a hotel room with my homeschool peeps and talking late into the night about curriculum, homeschool philosophies, and parenting challenges after long days at the book fair and workshops.  Later, it was me and my teens who enjoyed a weekend together  - well, we slept in the same room at night and ate meals together - as they attended the Teen track workshops as part of their school requirement for the year while I went through my checklist of workshops and book fair time. ❤

Some years was like drinking from a fire hose, and some years it was dainty sips of refreshment. But I always came home with nuggets of wisdom, encouragement and insight that made me a better teacher and homeschool mama. It was motivation to stay the course. It was conviction to make a change. It was affirmation of my desires  and encouragement for my doubts.
Even today, now that all five of my children are graduated and in their 20's and 30's, I get a thrill of excitement as I read through the list of workshop titles, and I'm tempted to attend Conference for at least one day - or maybe three-  to sit in on some workshops and soak in all those good homeschool vibes. I might browse the vendor hall, and with great restraint choose one or two books to take home for me. And maybe one or two to tuck away for that first grandbaby and future homeschooler on the way.

Do it.  Go to Thrive! or go to another homeschool conference. Invest in yourself and your decision to educate your children. Strive for excellence. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you and direct you.  Don't think you aren't ___ enough and that's why you have to send them out or sign them up for other people to teach.  Sending them out or signing them up could be part of what you do this year, but make that an informed and intentional part of your homeschool, not a desperate move.
Remember that Jesus used one little boy's lunch of a few fish and some bread to feed thousands. Bring Jesus your lunch and watch him multiply it and do a miracle.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Putting Together a Prayer Binder

For a long time now, I have been wanting, needing, searching for a way to make my prayer time {sporadic, unorganized, unproductive,pathetic} more effective, more engaging, more meaningful.
**apparently I'm into lists this morning...
I am highly visual and easily distracted, two things which don't bode well for a concentrated period of prayer to a God I cannot see.  My prayers for a long time have been of the fleeting, shoot up an arrow, immediate while I'm reading it, in my brain and out again type.   I know that God hears ALL our prayers, and doesn't require us to pray in a certain way, at a certain time, with certain words, etc.  But now that my season of active parenting is behind me and I have the time, and the burden to pray has grown heavier on my heart, I have felt the NEED to be better at this, more deliberate, more consistent.
The movie "The War Room" made a big impact on me and fueled my desire to be a dedicated prayer warrior.   James 5:16 says "...the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV).  Or the NKJV version, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."  I WANT to be that kind of person - a prayer warrior for God's kingdom.

Well, I just found Stone Soup for Five's blog and tutorials on creating a Prayer Binder - and Eureka! I have found it!   I have seen lots of pictures and descriptions of prayer notebooks, prayer journals, etc, etc,  but none felt do-able to me.  This one does!  I think it appeals to the visual side of me.  It appeals to the creative, can't stick to one method, don't want it to be rote or formulaic part of me.  It offers a solution to the forgetful, easily distracted part of me.  It is adaptable. It can be highly personalized.  Pages can be added, taken out,  redone, decorated, archived.  I can start small and add to it.  I can use it for a few minutes or for an hour or longer.
I am soooo excited to start using this tool for daily prayer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Arizona Trip

A family wedding provided the opportunity for my whole family to travel west a few days after New Years, to a part of the country we had never visited and another part that we had last been to almost 17 years ago. 
The wedding was in Florence, AZ, just south of Phoenix, at a lovely winery plopped in the middle of barren, rocky landscape. We enjoyed time together as a family and also time reconnecting and catching up with extended family that we hadn't seen in a long time. 


We took a day trip up to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, which we had visited on our Big Trip in 2002.  The first visit was in late June, and January in the snow was a very different experience!  The vistas were breathtaking and magnificent, which is how I remember it from before, but the freshly fallen snow from the night before added a new dimension and contrast. The 3 hour drive up from Phoenix was amazing as well, as we traveled through the Sonoran Desert dotted with Saguaro cactus,  the red rock cliffs of Sedona,  switchbacks through forests up the Colorado Plateau,  wide flat grassland,  dark basalt hills and extinct volcanoes, and then of course, the massive vistas across the Grand Canyon.

 Our family, with the exception of the oldest who had to return to NC for work, spent a couple of days in Sedona after the wedding, enjoying a mini-family vacation. I don't take lightly the fact that we still are able to do this, with children now in their 20's and 30's.  The bond between siblings in our family, and the fact that they enjoy spending time with each other and even indulge us parents, is something I treasure. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year, New Posts

It has been more than a year since I've posted anything here - although I have started but never finished several posts in that time.  Now here it is, the 1st day of 2019, and while I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions, there is something about the start of a fresh calendar year that draws me to new beginnings.
So I am back.  I am in a new season, now that my youngest has graduated from our homeschool and is in college, but I still mentor homeschool moms and have a heart for encouraging women on this journey and also in life - marriage, faith, health, personal growth, friendship, etc!  I can share from the "other side",  as a mom whose homeschooled kids are grown and thriving, and as an empty nester finding new paths, new places to use my gifts, new vision for my marriage and friendships, new challenges adapting to and ministering in a crazily tilting world.  If you care to read along, I hope you'll find something that blesses you or helps you or makes you think.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Homeschool Moms' Retreat

Last Saturday was our 1st annual Lighthouse Moms' Retreat at the beach!  Two dear ladies, Michele and Ingrid, planned and hosted the one day event for 11 of us at a beach house on Topsail Island, about 2 ½ hours from Raleigh.   A few of us decided to go down the night before and stay at a motel on the beach, to make it a bit more of a getaway, and allow us to arrive by the start time of 8:30am without having to wake before the sun!  It was a wonderful day of fellowship with both old and new friends, glorious worship on the beach, encouragement from scripture, creative activities, good food, and emotional refreshment.

Ingrid reminded us that we are not just moms, wives, teachers, home managers, etc, but we are  daughters of the King, and beloved by him!   Our WORTH comes not from how well we teach spelling or clean the house or manage our budget, but our worth comes from the fact that we are God's creation and  his precious children.  Michele taught that our BEAUTY isn't measure by our weight or our haircolor,  our wardrobe or our words, but from our relationship with Jesus Christ.  This was a very good reminder for all of us women. 

Late September is a PERFECT time for a beach retreat!  The weather was gorgeous.

Ready and waiting for us to arrive!

almost there!

Singing along to praise songs and worshiping with scarves and flags on the beach!

We made all-natural skin care products from coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt or brown sugar, cinnamon, probiotic powder...

We were a wonderful mix of brand new homeschool moms, seasoned homeschool moms, and even a couple of retired homeschool moms.  

One of our activities involved choosing 5 stones or shells and writing 5 words that the Lord was impressing on you to release or embrace.  Later, we had some time to do something creative involving those words, or even to just rest and meditate. I chose to spend that time with watercolor. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ready to Start a New Homeschool Year.... Oh, Wait.

Here it is, the middle of August.  This week, my husband and I finished our stint as Tuesday morning breakfast cooks at New Life Camp, an overnight Christian summer camp here in Raleigh where my kids have been campers and counselors for the last 20 years. The temps are back in the 80's instead of high 90's.   My Facebook newsfeed is full of posts from my homeschool mama friends already starting school, or for those wringing out the last few weeks of summer for all their worth, planning to start school in the next few weeks.  WalMart and Target are full of back-to-school banners and bins of Crayola markers, glue sticks, spiral notebooks, binders, and backpacks.  My favorite homeschool bloggers are posting all kinds of advice about Getting Started and Easing into the School Year and Surviving High School and Planning Great Field Trips.   And for the first time in 23 years, I am not making lesson plans for a child of mine.

This is my first "new school year" as a retired homeschool mom, and it feels... weird.   Bittersweet.  Surreal.  Suddenly the relentless rush of days of feeding, clothing, planning, teaching, chauffering, tending, counseling, and otherwise raising children has skidded to a halt, and I find myself wistfully thinking back over the years as though flipping through the pages of a scrapbook, catching glimpses of co-op classes and piano lessons and waiting at band practice and reading aloud on the couch and full calendars and a messy house.  The messy house remains.  But I've rolled over into a new season.

I am still teaching other people's children this year,  so I am making middle school geography lesson plans.  My youngest will still be home working this fall before moving away to start college in January. I feel incredibly grateful and have no regrets - except for all those things I wish I had done better.
I am adjusting, but am not quite there yet.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

New Homeschool Moms Celebration Brunch

Even though I have closed my homeschool after graduating my youngest child, I still plan to remain involved in my support group and in the homeschool community.  One of my roles in Lighthouse the past couple of years has been Mentor Coordinator, and yesterday a group of us hosted a New Homeschool Moms Brunch to celebrate the end of the school year with some fellowship and encouragement.  It was a small group, 6 mentors ("seasoned" homeschoolers) and 5 ladies in their first year of homeschooling.  My friend and fellow mentor, Becky, opened her beautiful home and served as hostess, and the mentors all provided items for the buffet table.

Everyone ate and chatted for a while, and then we gathered in the living room for introductions, since our support group is quite large and everyone doesn't know one another.  Irene shared a devotion and we gave out 2 little gifts.

I gave everyone a Homeschool Survival Kit, based on one someone had made for a homeschool meeting years ago.  As I told the ladies, this is a visual reminder to sit on your windowsill, bookshelf, kitchen counter, etc, so that when you see it, you are reminded of the messages and Scriptures that go along with it. 

Becky then gave out little scented candles that were labeled "Romance"!  She encouraged everyone  to pay attention to their marriage relationships and make time for romance.  Homeschooling can become overwhelming it we let it, and start to take up all our time and energy.  We must not lose sight of the importance of nurturing the relationship that is the foundation of our family - our relationship with our spouse.  

We spent the rest of the time just talking and answering questions. It was a sweet morning spent building relationships with and pouring encouragement into some new friends.