Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Changing the World One Step at a Time

As promised I am going to tell you a little about our upcoming homeschool year, followed by some information about making an impact on the world.
In a little over a month we will be embarking on our 12th year of homeschooling with kids in 3rd, 5th, 6th/7th, 9th and 11th grades, respectively. The oldest two are in high school and are following Sonlight cores 100 and 300 with added Life of Fred math, Rosetta Stone spanish, and Apologia science for one.
The middle schooler is still on track with the youngest two. These will be doing a combination of Saxon and Teaching Textbooks for math, Learning Language Arts Through Literature (with some supplements) and gradespelling.com for LA (and I'll throw in some reading and writing projects here and there), Story of the World and Texas history units, Apologia science, art.
So far we are in a good place and I have very high hopes for a smoother year on the new gluten free diets. The kids will also take some dance classes and participate in co-op again. There will be various activities within the church and community as well.
This brings me to the changing of the world. I want my kids to know the bible, but also to make Christianity their own, and truly follow Jesus. Whatever they choose to do, this has to be something they choose to make time for, set aside money for. We have always given to the local congregation, and visited and served wherever we could, usually within the church programs, and those typically serve only our local church members. Nothing wrong with serving internally, but shouldn't we be serving externally in the world, just as much? If the church congregation doesn't do it, I can do it on my own, I reasoned. It has been on my heart to help the world at large with major needs that we don't feel and experience here in our comfy little American life bubble. The command to go into the world means we Christians have to go. When we can't go, we have to pay to send people and support their work. Changes take time, and there are so many factors affecting each situation. My personal call to action came through reading three specific books this spring: Crazy Love, not a fan., and The Hole in Our Gospel. I began to see that my ministry at this time may my children, the neighborhood in which I have contact, and social media. BUT, being middle class, surely we could spare some cash to help globally, right?? I thought so. I want my kids to be aware of missions, and give now and then, too. I did some research on reputable charities that I felt good supporting. Here are the ones I decided we could and should support on a regular basis as much as possible. I hope you will check them out and decide to help globally, too. Or find some other ways to help reach the world with basic needs and the gospel. We can change the world one dollar and one person at a time. But we have to be the ones who go, and the ones who give. Here are my charities of choice, though there are many worthy causes out there:

Raffa Clinic
Children's Medical Center
St. Jude Childrens Research hospital
World Vision
Doctors Without Borders
Eastern European Missions
China -Missions.org
Habitat for Humanity
Local food pantries
Local children's homes

Matthew 22:36-4036 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 25:31-46  31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 Luke 18:18-23  18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

Matthew 28: 18-20    18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 


Monday, July 7, 2014

The Bottom Line

The gospel (aka good news):
God is the creator of all. His Son, Jesus, was a real man that came from heaven to earth to live amongst us, yet he was not acknowledged by most for who He truly was. So he was killed by those who thought He was coming out against God. God loves his creation like parents love children, but so much more. He yearns for us to love and obey Him, but He will not force us. Sin separates us from God for He is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin, and we cannot enter His holy heaven without those sins being taken away. Jesus died on earth for that purpose. He was sinless and His lifeblood paid the ultimate price for our sins, so when we believe in who He is and decide to repent of our sins and change our lives to follow Him, His blood, through our baptism, will wash our sins away forever. That is how we are added to His kingdom. His kingdom on earth. And after living faithfully as a follower, we can enter heaven with Him. That is it. The good news. 
Really, that is all the early Christians knew. They didn't have the bible. Maybe some scrolls and letters distributed, but no scriptures to check out whenever they wanted. Grace covered them as they were growing and learning. Everyone is growing and learning, all the days of their lives.
The whole gospel hangs on two things: love God, and love the people He made. Love them enough to meet their needs, and show His love through your actions, so they will see it and want to be a part of what you belong to. Most people do not feel anything is missing in their lives. They can't see a need for salvation and change. Change takes time---often lots of it. They probably don't truly believe in God and heaven and hell. These concepts are fairy tales to many. They can't be held to the Christian standard any more than we can be held to the standards of the world. Only by doing selfless love and THEN explaining your reason (because you are a Christian and love the people God made) will people see tangible proof of God. We, who have the Holy Spirit  living inside us, are the ones who have to show the world who God is. 
So Christian, let's all try to do what Jesus asks. Do good to your neighbor, to the least of these (Matthew 25), to our fellow Christians. Let's study the bible and put it into practice to the best of our ability. Get out there and be a part of society rather than isolating yourself among those like you. Try to be like Jesus. Serve your fellow man, alleviate suffering, pray often and specifically, try to avoid sinning. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.
This is truth. This is Christianity, as I see it.

Monday, June 30, 2014

New Adventures?

That is really just a nice way of saying "we got issues here".  We do. We've known for a long time that there likely was something wrong with the youngest. We have seen patterns of behavior, physical and mental since about age 3-4 months. We do what we can to help her work through the issues. So far it hasn't stopped them. She can't seem to control them. Worse, she is starting to be scared by her own reactions, as are her siblings.
So, new adventures in finding out what might help are upon us. I am speaking to a professional first, and I have a few new essential oils I am going to test out. I am not 100% sold on the oils. I use some that have worked and love them. I gave others away because I saw no evidence of effectiveness. But they do have their merits. I also hate to say this, (I don't want to be "that mom"), but I am going to try some gluten free foods to see if that helps. I really want gluten to be a non-issue. I cannot adequately express how much I want to just eat normal food! But today I purchased almond flour, xanthan gum, tapioca flour, and white rice flour, and pastas made with rice. I started a pinterest board of gluten free recipes and found some gluten free food lists. I am learning what to combine to make breads for her, and found out Bob's Red Mill and Pamela's are a great source of gluten free flour, pancake mix, pie crust mix, and oatmeal. But it is all so expensive, even if you make it all homemade. My kid is angry with me for making her try it. I get it. Hey, I am not doing it 100%. But if it helps, she will have to do it. If not, we can stop. I am also thinking of switching to a more holistic pediatrician.
Also,  but I have a son who has complained of upset stomach several times a week for over a year. Could it be gluten intolerance? I don't know. Is it just nervousness? I don't know. Does he need to see the holistic pediatrician? Maybe. No one else knows what is going on. But he has some behavioral issues too. Just not quite as severe.
And I already blogged about the kid with the  non verbal processing issues.
All three have been on DHA and St.John's Wort this year. All three have limited sugar intake. All three are going to use oils. I sincerely hope that can help them.
I did my research. Lots of internet reading from many reputable sites. Studies have shown that DHA can help a little with behavioral and digestive issues, but are not necessarily that helpful. High grade essential oils are generally very helpful, but not for everyone. However, eliminating food dyes and gluten help nearly 100% of the time. Interesting.
So, yeah, we are about to become "that family"...hopefully temporarily. Maybe permanently.  But if it helps my children learn and control personality aspects, then so be it. They are worth it. I can take it. They can be mad. At least they will have their health. And that is important.
Thanks FDA, for adding all the hormones and antibiotics and dyes and preservatives and GMO to our food supply. And the pesticides. Must thank Monsanto too. These are the reasons so many many people have food issues nowadays.

Update:
We have been mostly gluten free for almost two weeks without ONE stomach ache or meltdown. The kids are totally on board now and they like the results. They are willing to make almost 90%-100% of most days gluten free because they see and feel a difference. I am learning new recipes, because I just love to cook good food.  And the whole family has eaten the gluten free food and not noticed! We will keep this up until September and then evaluate where to go next, but I suspect this is the new normal for us. I praise God for sending people into my life and showing me things I needed at the right times in my life. God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.

Soon...

It has been a long dry spell here. Most things I post to facebook because frankly it is easier and more convenient. But I do want to share a couple of things in the next few days.
First, a spiritual post.
Second, a post about life struggles.
Third, a post about the upcoming school year.
And now, I bid you farewell because it is the end of June and I have to get my first of the month groceries for a family of 7. It is a daunting task and takes most of the day, especially since I am searching for gluten free this time around...sigh.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

LTC time

Tomorrow is the North Texas Leadership Training for Christ conference (www.ntltc.org). It is an annual competition on bible knowledge, and skills that youth need to develop, to be leaders in the church when they are adults.
Our schedule is rather full with four of the five kids competing. Our oldest two compete in more categories than the younger ones. It is a fast paced, fun 24 hours. Today we pack, and quiz and finalize art projects.
It is a great time. My prayer is that the patrons of the hotel where we compete will see Christianity something they would like to be a part of. it is a chance for us to shine as light, give witness to the world, conduct ourselves for His glory. It is for me, the most important aspect of my life, and my prayer is that my children will each choose to make following Christ their number one life purpose, too. But ultimately it is their individual choice. If you read this blog and are interested in learning about the love of Christ or want to know about God, or want proof of God as creator or that He exists at all, I am suggesting the following books:
The Bible (ESV or NASB)
The Case for a Creator
Investigating Christian Evidences
The Case for Faith
The Case for Christ

If you want to grow as a follower I recommend:
The Bible (ESV or NASB)
Crazy Love
not a fan.
The Hole in Our Gospel
Do Hard Things

And lastly, explore the links on the sidebar labeled reference. Talk to people. See if what they say contextually agrees with the bible. I was once a non believer. I wasn't able to use the bible at first, because it was just another book to me until I heard/read evidence that there could actually be a God. If you don't believe in God, the bible may not be the best initial starting point for you, but I still recommend reading it--all of it--as you seek. Psalm 118:8
I will pray for open hearts for all who seek truth.
God's Not Dead...find Him.  One day it will be too late.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Aging has its perks

Odd title I know. But as you age, some things just get better. You really come into your own and feel much more comfortable with who you are, and your past experiences and your current status.
I think as I have aged I have become less and less concerned with what other people believe about me and more concerned with what God thinks about me and how I am doing personally, rather than measuring myself against others and their narrow definitions of what a Christian is.

 I know more than I ever did before, yet I realize how little I really know and how far I have to go. I post what I want on facebook because it is my page, and i try to make sure I say things that I can fully stand behind. Then I don't look back. Rarely will I check back on a post if I have said what I need to say and it involved my opinions. If it is a biblical fact check, maybe I will go back and discuss.
I have found much wisdom in the words of Edna Mode from The Incredibles, " I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now."

Living in the past is not living. At least not for me. I have too much going on in my incredibly blessed life of a great husband, great kids, and wonderful friends and activities. I have no time to compare my life to what others think it should be, without detracting from living my own. Not worth it. Besides, I encounter far too many people who are too much like the old me (and I wasn't very pleased with the old me). She was judgmental by her own legalistic ideals, she was saved, but not doing much good to lead others to Christ in a loving example. She put a very bad taste in many people's mouths with her legalism and I am pretty sure she caused a few families to want to find another congregation and sever ties with friends. She was bull headed, tactless, harsh, and came across as holier than thou, because if you weren't thinking like her, you were probably not very Christian! Repelling is how I would describe her in retrospect--at least that is my opinion of her. I think she was probably tolerated as a member rather than actually befriended. But thanks be to God that some people did try to tolerate her until she changed. I am trying to have love and patience with those who are like I used to be, because I know (or at least hope and pray) that their day will come when they see the light. None of us are great at seeing who we truly are or how we are perceived by others, in the moment.
NOTE: Just because "I believe" I am a far better, kinder, person than I was in the past, by no means implies that I am good. I am not. I am a sinner, a work in progress, and will never be what I should be or all that I need to be. I need TONS of work. I just forgive myself now and start fresh each day. Grace is awesome!

Maybe I am not exceedingly better now, but at least I am not "her" anymore. I think that shows growth and that is what I am after. Always growing and trying to be more like Jesus wants me to be. Loving others and being kind in word and deed. I think all that came with age. Not finished, and never will be...and that is ok. It is supposed to be that way.

Age also brought wrinkles, gray hair and more body pain, but it has been good. It brought an awareness of who I am and what I am supposed to be doing. I started taking care of myself, which in turn set a great example for my kids of a healthy lifestyle. I started leading, and sharing and all that was good, too. I started sticking to the scripture rather than making up rules about how I think we are supposed to be. I found a few hard and fast keepers, but found many guidelines where we have freedom to choose as long as we aren't using it as opportunity to sin. Rarely will I judge anyone anymore. I don't know their struggles, circumstances, how far they have come, what the day has held. I just try to offer a smile and a kind conversation. Even when bad stuff happens with my kids, I don't jump all over it when others have different reactions than I would like. I just pray and try to keep perspective and kindness at the forefront.
So I am getting older and blogging much less. But that means I am reading more, exercising more, staying involved in life-- being in the moment. That leaves less time for stuff that distracts from the now. I may not be perfect (who is?) but every day I wake up and try to be the best I can be. Whatever others think, is fine.

I don't wear a superhero cape and never will. But I like "me". I am a work in progress and thankful for the journey. And that being said, I will probably talk more in a few months. Lots of life to live.

Side note: This started out as a homeschooling blog, but most days I don't want to write about that. I just want to share, like a diary. I am living the home school life every day and to write about it would be very tiresome. You can check it out on facebook instead...at least the things I decide to tell. ;)
Have a good one!

Friday, February 14, 2014

OH!!! Sweet, Sweet Baby!

Babies are just delicious! I love they way their skin feels, the little way they curl up, the way they look at you. Preciousness. And today I got to savor some sweet baby! She doesn't have a name yet...well, she did, but it was Timothy. Because she was thought to be a boy, until she arrived and surprised everyone. What a great surprise!

She was born yesterday to one of my dearest friends, who is my age. Her momma called me early this morning to come visit this afternoon and I was glad to oblige! I love visiting with my friend, but oh, to hold that sweet bundle and feel her and smell her, and see my girls hold her and her siblings hold her.... It was love.

I am so perfectly content with my five kids, but for years I felt a constant yearning for more. After the last child was about three, I realized it was not a yearning anymore, but a strong sadness and longing for the days that had passed by, missing the wonderful time of babies and toddlers. But yet, I had a contentment with the ones I had been blessed with. Part of me will always be joyful at the thought of another baby, but the larger part is content to meet the daily challenges of the five I have. And that can make me feel very overwhelmed at times, and like I am not fully equipped to do what I need to do to raise them well. So I am content.

Also, we as a couple originally decided to have four kids. And truthfully, my dear husband would have agreed if I had felt that motherly contentment after two were born. But God had different plans for us. We "planned" two of the kids, hoping for four, and the Lord sent the rest. Five in all. And even if I were not content, my husband is. His quiver is full. And I am good with that. Dads can feel content, too. We love every kid and want to be fully present to focus on the raising of these blessings.

However....should the Lord ever see fit to bless us again, I certainly would not be distressed. I would rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Babies, little humans, are such a gift to the world. I am so happy for my friend and her sweet family!