Notes to Self for 2015

I know we’re already in 2015 but that’s why I think my timing to write this is ideal because all the New Years resolution blog posts, status updates and tweets about new goals has decreased so now is the perfect time to reflect on the remainder of 2015.

First note to self: The greatest things come from the hardest places. And as much as I hate acknowledging this, its certainly easier to acknowledge in the quieter, sweeter times. Most of the hardest places in my life are being restored into beautiful places that I wouldn’t change for anything!

I am going to be in the present starting today is my second note to self. I just witnessed Xaviar (my first born, adult son) propose to his girlfriend on January 1st actually! When I think of all the ups and downs this quote from one of my favorite rappers (yep you heard it right, I listen to rap!) comes to mind: “it takes a moment to make a memory but a lifetime to forget it.” Whether good or bad, every moment is made up of choices. The marriage commitment was never intended to be broken, rather intended to demonstrate the greatest of loves. So I will be their biggest fan as they journey into new and exciting ground.  But while remaining committed to the future, I am learning this past year that being in the today is so cliche we forget it.

My third note to self comes from the experience of buying my first house: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:10) I get that to some people this is the American dream we chase but for me it was representative of another place that God restored to me (more on this but for another time). Certainly I don’t put my hope in the house, or don’t think I am so hung up on earthly treasures that I am not willing to walk away from my “dream come true.”

It is true that you will NEVER go wrong waiting on God.

Words of wisdom from one of my mentors during a dark time: “walking though hard places with hard people demands holy resignation” is my fourth note to self. Waiting on a persons stubborn, hard heart to come around is so painful.

Forgiveness

Resigning alone is not godly. Love is proactive and intentional. But when resigning is holy I would say its where in submission we say, “Lord, I am not in control of when that person comes around or what that person does, I am angry and hurt, yes, but only you can turn their heart of stone into a heart of fleshI am going to carry on with my day knowing what I am responsible for and wait on you to convict and change that person’s heart.” 

One more thing to add to this, love and especially in the context of a difficult marriage, but any relationship really, I don’t think always means quietness. Loving confrontation is necessary. In order to break unhealthy, patterns and cycles, we have to be willing to see and call the baggage what it is. Sometimes, everyone involved is not so willing.

Perfect place for the fifth and final note to self: I am only responsible for how I respond. This has been a long learning process for me, one which I am pretty sure I am still working on. Growing up, somewhere along the way, I internalized I was on my own and the world and everyone in it was against me. I had to carry my own and as a result shut down mostly and resisted love in every way. The sick part is that I actually wanted to be loved. And it is Love that softens and restores us back to who we are.

In this process, I resented love, feared man, and controlled everything and everyone around me in order to keep everything at a safe distance. I made judgments using words like never and always. I will never let someone…, I always let…, I always have to…, They never…

Eventually, through the hardest places, I would discover that God uses people to love us, and that created in his image we are relational at our core – created for intimacy with people and him. Love is sincere, I had to be real about what I felt, what hurt, and my view or perspective along with the choices I made because I am responsible for how I respond to life – no excuses. Even though some of it may be the result of a difficult childhood, I am an adult now, I am responsible for what I do with what happened then and what is happening now.

When what happens now is the result of what happened then, I must own that fact or hurt I am faced with, and do something about it, if its in my power to do so. If not then I must espouse the holy resignation attitude and wait on the Lord to work out his perfect plans and purposes.

Reflections from Faithwalkers Conference

So many books, conferences, lectures, “Bible studies” and ministries in an attempt to disciple yet little to no real discipleship.
I was struck by the reminder at a conference this weekend that “The Greatest Commandment” came before “The Great Commission”. I am particularly challenged by this because the struggle to do both is present all the time, and considering what was lost in the Garden we are in trouble. As acceptance, significance and security seekers we are doomed from the get go.
We will always struggle with the effects of the curse. Every decision and action will be to get one of these back – acceptance, significance and security.
And we know as image-bearers of the Creator God, only in Him, will we find who He says we are – our identity. We also know that we were made to worship and who we worship will ultimately determine who we seek to get acceptance, significance and security from.
In a leadership seminar, many points challenged me but one thing challenged me the greatest: that often places of leadership start because of a need; a place of discontent. The book of Nehemiah was used as an example of this and is a great example of a need that led to co-laboring with God.
QuoteNehemiah was confronted and broken by a need.
Nehemiah took purposeful steps towards the call to leadership but each step was wrought through imploring the Father.
Nehemiah was faced with much opposition.
Yet the work was completed in 52 days. The impact of his work resulted in repentance of people who continued to doubt Gods love (chapter 9).
The story didn’t end here; just like our new beginning through repentance, we aren’t all fixed up and ready to go. We are being sanctified, there is much work still to be done, the people within the walls being built (one need) needed to be restored to their Father through healing and discipleship (another need).
Taken and paraphrased from a sermon entitled, Follow Jesus – Love His Disciples by Thomas Lemus, Real love (The Greatest Commandment) or sincere love looks like this however not exhaustive: we feel safe and comfortable, we can be honest and still feel loved, we are not afraid to touch, we can hope and believe even if were not sure we trust and it doesn’t just ask how you are doing without really wanting to listen and share in the burden.  We are told to put on love (Col 3:14)!
Jesus didn’t disciple all. He was moved by compassion and burdened for certain ones for reasons we really don’t know. May we be a people like Jesus, that are moved by compassion to come along side certain ones for certain reasons that we really don’t know!

Commercial break

Thanks to the idea of a faithful friend, I decided to take a break from My Story and share some insights gained from our schooling experiences. Aspects of this topic can be controversial without even trying to be. Despite that, I would not discourage anyone from sharing their views. I believe every child is different. Consequently, each child may need a different approach of schooling.
Each year my husband and I pray, discuss and decide how to school each child – home school, private, fundamental, magnet, traditional public, and last is the virtual, public school. My intent is to explain in greater detail what I liked and disliked about each approach including what I learned about the curriculum. I do not claim to be an expert in anyway. I also hope others will share their experiences. This post is an overview of each experience, further explanation will come in separate posts.
To add to my experience; I wrote my thesis on parental involvement in a child’s education in comparison to home schooling. I will share parts of that research throughout as well.
Xaviar and his brother
My first experience was with my eldest son in 4th grade. I had just removed him from public school after it was recommended that he be tested for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). That was in the early part of this decade when medicine was becoming a quick solution to “problems” in the classroom. My interpretation of his “problems” was more related to what I saw as the whole child and how he learned. Xaviar was and still is gregarious, charismatic, outgoing, articulate, curious and just a little strong willed…So we started with the “Unschooling” method, where I let him learn from his surroundings. For Math and Phonics I used Saxon along with a few others.
Isabelle and chick
The second experience included our eldest son dual enrolled – home schooled and at his zoned public, middle school. For our 5 year old, we hit the “lottery” and were offered a seat in a public fundamental school. While the two youngest children remained home with me. During her first school experience we saw the beginning signs of struggles with comprehension that would eventually be uncovered as years went on. Overall the experience was acceptable and yet somehow I knew, like with my eldest, the way they would handle her “behavior” would present challenges and conflict.
MIchal counting
Our third experience was with Classical Conversations for our eldest daughter who we removed from the fundamental school. Her birthday is in August and as a result started kindergarten very early. It was recommended that we have her do another year of “kindergarten” to which we agreed knowing that we were home schooling her. Meanwhile, our youngest was a toddler at home and our son was in Pre-K part-time at a private school. Classical Conversations approach to education is classical. They use memorization of Math and Science concepts, Grammar, Latin, Geography and History through song.
Abram at Science Center
Then, we had the opportunity to put all the children in school. By this time, Xaviar was in 10th grade at a Christian, private school. The youngest was in Kindergarten and ready and willing to go to school. Our son was in 1st grade and our eldest daughter was in 2nd grade. Our evenings doing homework were busy and exciting to say the least.
Abram and Isabelle learning
For our eldest, he spent his last two years of high school as a dual enrolled student – home schooled and at the local community college taking courses that satisfy both high school and college credit. For the three stooges, our most recent experience was in the public, virtual school. My husband and I shared the load – he taught Math and Science while I handled Language Arts and Social Studies. The remaining subjects included in the curriculum were Art, Physical Education and Florida History for higher elementary grades. The curriculum was advanced and well designed. However, they require attendance and the same standardized testing the public schools require.
IMG_20130130_170452In effort to adjust to recent changes in our home life we made the decision to remove them from the virtual setting. We felt there was too much time taken from family, most of which is what is known as “busy work.” We took a more traditional approach with the basics with a twist of Un-schooling as I enjoy seeing the children learn through their environment.