Thursday, August 14, 2014

My PSA for you and yours....You're welcome

I have five kids. Guess what they do....guess!! guess!!!!
They grow up. Yes, they do, and inevitably they want to drive. And given that we live in the USA, they need to know how, if they are physicaly and mentally able to do so responsibly.
Kids can apply for a permit at age 15. Then they can learn to drive, ALWAYS with a supervising driver (parent or guardian) in the vehicle with them, and they are covered through the insurance of the supervising adult at no additional charge, should anything go wrong.
However, as I shockingly discovered this week, not all insurance companies will allow a permitted driver to be covered under the supervising guardian. My company was one of those. They have their underwriter put in the policies that once a teen has a permit for six months and reaches the age of 16, you must either pay a premium on your highest rated vehicle (for the maximum insurance payment) or exclude them so that nothing is covered. And according to their policy, it makes no difference that the teen has no license. I was floored. You expect me to pay to cover a supervised permitted teen who doesn't have a driver's license and hasn't even finished driver's ed???Are you insane???
Apparently the answer was a resounding YES- WE DO EXPECT THAT...or we can exclude him and you have no coverage should anything happen.
WOW!
WOW.
WOW.
Now, I am generally pretty logical and calm (relatively speaking), but this angered me to the point I was shaking and sick to my stomach and got a migraine. I am not exaggerating. So I did my research and contacted DMV, state insurance licensing board, and spoke to many people with teen drivers. Everyone thinks my company is nuts---except for my company.
I spoke to them about my research and explained my position that we should not have to pay for coverage for a permitted driver without a license (especially not on the vehicle he will likely NOT be driving). I explained that we expect our kids to work and pay for their own insurance, because we will not pay it for them, and he needed to finish driver's ed. They didn't want to hear it because they made their policy this way on purpose. My guess is so that at the earliest possible moment they can receive the highest possible payments from consumers. I didn't like or appreciate that AT ALL. In my little world I call it extortion, but maybe I am just being extreme.  I could not, and would not, abide by their policy. I did what I thought was best-- switched companies.
For auto insurance, I cannot say enough good things about State Farm, my new carrier. Rates are excellent and they insure licensed drivers. Permitted drivers are covered under guardians policy at no charge. And they don't care how long you have the permit. Only licensed drivers are required to pay.
So....my insurance company is not my company anymore. Not for auto insurance. Or life insurance (way too high on premiums for terrible coverage--dropped them years ago). And I wholeheartedly cannot ever recommend that any family use them for auto or life insurance. Because if you have kids, they will eventually learn to drive, and they need insurance when they earn that license.
My old company can keep my homeowner's policy. It is reasonably priced and has good coverage and rates and service.
If you are curious who this old company is, I will tell you privately, but not here. The initials are FB...It is a large company like Allstate or State Farm or MetLife, so you can guess.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer...what happened???

It is only about 2 1/2 weeks until we begin the new school year. I had such hopes of an easy, laid back summer. Mostly it happened, but as expected, some kinks came our way.
We did spend lots of time at the pool, went to camps, went on mission trip, did service projects, attended lots of youth rallies, did a tiny bit of schooling, did VBS...twice, and went bowling a few times. We finally had the June birthday parties in early August along with the August birthday.
We connected a lot more with friends and I connected more with other moms. That was awesome for me beyond words! The kids got deeply involved with church friends, and barely saw their homeschool buddies. That is all about to change though.
Some unexpected things??? Yes. Two of mine went on gluten free diets with the addition of essential oils. The results have been amazing. I cannot describe how different they are. The house vibe is different. I have hopes for a better school year. Last year was the kind I could not endure twice. Public or charter school was becoming an option. Now it is not. We also have a surgery for the oldest coming up very soon. He is not excited or amused. Also found out he needs braces to avoid losing all his front teeth in about ten years. Joy.
We have the a/c in the van blowing heat, but thankfully this has been one of the coolest summers on record. God is watching over us...and I asked Him if he would kindly let this be the norm. The weather, I mean. Especially if it comes with a cold winter again! I love that.
So, summer is winding down. Today I registered the kids for dance, and next week I will meet with my partner in Friday school crime, and then in two weeks we will hold our registration event, and school will start and life will get crazy.
But for tonight, i am going to slip into my swimsuit and hit the pool again.
Have a great summer, friends!

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.