Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The months from September to December fly by. They are the best four months of the year for many reasons, but Christmas is definitely one of the big ones as to why I love these months so much. I start thinking about Christmas in September and my decorations are up in October.

As the years have gone by, though, my feelings about Christmas have changed. I still love it of course, but how I go about it has changed. It used to be about presents and how much I could give to my kids. I still enjoy giving gifts and love the looks on their faces when they get something they really wanted. But there is more now. Now, there is a sense of just being together that is so important to me. With two kids gone at colleges in opposite directions the majority of the year, I love to just have everyone home and together again. I focus on what our menus are going to be for Christmas Eve Eve, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. I want to make sure we have family time aorund the table.

Last night, Christmas Eve, as I was putting our dinner of glazed spiral ham, rice, jello, rustic Italian bread, and corn on the table, I was feeling a little down. That morning we had ventured to a kitchen store in Uptown Minneapolis and I had seen many very nice things that I wanted for my kitchen. I was feeling sorry for myself that I had no money to buy some of these things. As I lamented some about this, my son said something that has haunted me since hearing it. "Well, my friends on Wacker Ave have been hoarding granola bars for weeks so they could have them for Christmas dinner." Ouch. My son lives in Chicago and the friends he was referring to are homeless people who he has gotten to know through ministry. They live in the parking ramp on that street. My heart broke the more I thought about what he had said. No one should have to eat just granola bars for dinner ever, let alone on Christmas. As I thought and thought about this, I realized how blessed I really am. I also realized how much I have lived for myself. I want to make a difference somehow. I know I am only one person and sometimes it seems senseless to even try to do something, but then I think of Mary Jo Copeland and what she started as just one person.

My prayer for the new year is that somehow God would show me how I can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than myself. I have no investment funds to start something but certainly have a willingness to be used by God to do something. God, please show me what it is you want me to do with my life that will serve those you love.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

test post

A test post to see if I was able to remove networked blogs from facebook.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On getting old

I never really used to think much about it.

There was a time I thought it would never happen to me.

There was even a time when I was in major denial that it actually HAD happened to me.

"It" refers to growing old.

I can picture the scene in my mind like it happened yesterday. I was sitting on the swing attached to my backyard swingset. I was eight years old. My best friend and next door neighbor Mike was sitting on the bar that went across the legs of the swingset. This was a common scene at the time. Mike and I would sit there often, attempting to solve the world's problems. Or something like that. This particular day, our conversation centered on how old each of us would be in the year 2000. We calculated our ages and dreamed of flying cars like the Jetsons had on the cartoon show. Food would be in capsule form--I was very much looking forward to this as opposed to having to actually chew the vegetables I was forced to eat. That day, the year 2000 seemed SO far away.

Right. Each new sunrise and subsequent sunset led to another year which led to more sunrises and sunsets which led to more get the picture. Now I look in the mirror and I realize I am old. No, I am not homebound and unable to get around by myself, but I am definitely not the young child I was that day when the year 2000 seemed like an eternity away.

On the swingset that day, I had visions of what my life would be as a young thirty-something when that much anticipated new millennium finally arrived. I *knew* I would be married and have kids and I *knew* I would be happy just being home with them. For the most part that is what has happened. Except I don't have that white house on the hill I always dreamed of nor do we have vacations or nice cars or money at all. In fact, at this very moment in time there is no money in our bank account. This makes me second guess if I did something wrong by fulfilling my dream of being a stay at home mom.

Part of me--a small part--says "Yes". I should have worked. After all, I worked hard for that college degree. I paid for college completely on my own (excpet textbooks which my parents gave me their credit card for) and I spent many late nights putting together projects and visual aids for my teaching assignments. I taught school for a very short time before leaving to stay home with my kids.

Another part of me says "No," I did not make the wrong decision. This part is definitely louder. I know my kids benefitted from having me home every day. They remember the cookies and cupcakes that would be waiting for them after school. They remember that when issues came up mom was home to help out. They remember that when traditional school just wasn't working for them, they didn't have to suck it up and stick it was there to homeschool them and give them what they needed as individuals...something a school just cannot do. I know--I taught school remember?

I loved being a stay at home mom and I still do. My youngest is now 16 years old. I could put her in school and go to work and make money. I should. We need it. But I really don't want to. I like doing dishes and planning meals and laundry and baking and cleaning and all the other things that come along with taking care of a home and a family. Yes, I love homeschooling my daughter. Do we butt heads? Oh yeah! More than I care to admit. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I don't want to have to work...I want my work to be my family. I want to volunteer with my daughter at church and community things without having to work around a work schedule. Would I like extra money? Yes, who wouldn't? But I know in the long run extra money is going to burn and be destroyed. My family can live for eternity. I think it is a good investment. Will I complain if I *have* to work? No. Perhaps it is God's will for me to do so right now. I just hope not for I so love being home everyday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-4)

Everyday I am faced with situations in which I have to make a decision. I never thought about how often I make these decisions based on myself...what do I want to do, how will this affect me, how much of my time will this take, etc. For some things it would be important to consider these things. For example, when I make the everyday decision on what to wear, it would be important to consider my plans and where I would be going that day. But, in reality, I wonder if I really heeded the above verse, would my decisions sometimes be different?

As of late I have become more and more aware that this earth is not my home. I truly am just passing through and on to something so much better. The things that I do and accomplish here may or may not count for eternity. Since my goal is to please the One who died for me and has eternal rewards waiting for me, I should be concentrating on doing things here on earth that will count for eternity. I cannot do this when all my decisions are based on my comfort, my feelings, my time, my money and my well being.

I hope to be able to keep this perspective as I am faced with decisions big and small in the near future. Instead of looking to please myself I want to look to the interests of others thereby pleasing God instead of myself.

Monday, August 8, 2011


"Don't know where to begin, feels like my world's caving in
And I try but I can't control my fear,
Where do I go from here?
Sometimes it's so hard to pray, You seem so far away,
I'm ready to go where You want me to,
God I trust You.
There's a raging sea right in front of me,
Wants to pull me in, drag me to my knees."

I heard this song yesterday while riding home from a visit with my daughter. I have heard the song many times but yesterday the words struck me hard. You see, lately I have been struggling with fear.

How will we make the payments Mr. Well Rounded's college requires each month when we are already struggling?
How can I handle another child leaving the nest?
How can I drive to ____________ when I am so afraid of something happening?
How can I let Miss Bookworm get her license? What if something happens?
How can I work a job and homeschool? How can I even find a job?
How do I deal with a hurtful situation?

The list could go on. I have realized lately just how much fear I live in everyday. I told my husband last week that I could easily see myself succumbing to my fears and never leaving the house. I fret when I get in a car sometimes over what may happen.

Yet, God's Word clearly tells me not to fret--not to be afraid. My head knows that. My heart is struggling with it.

Then I heard this song...God I trust You. Do I? Do I really trust God to work all things for my good? I say I do but do I really? As I contemplated the words to the song, I realized for the first time how literally blessed I am because I am a child of God. He didn't have to choose me. He could have passed over me and chosen someone more worthy--someone who didn't worry so much or fret or fear so much, but He didn't. He allowed me to hear His voice calling me. I am incredibly thankful to God for that. The next part of the song?

"So let the waters rise if you want them to.
I will follow you. I will follow you.
I will swim in the deep, cause You'll be next to me.
You're in the eye of the storm in the calm of the sea.
You're never out of reach."

God's never out of reach. He never sleeps, vacations, abandons or lets down. As God said to Joshua, "Fear not. As I was with Moses so will I be with you."

Now, to get that into my heart and not just my head. Pressing on through the fear to what God has for me to do...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Me? Old?

I looked in the mirror today. Of course, I do that everyday. Often this is done several times throughout the day. But this morning I was taken aback by what I saw looking back at me. There, in the mirror, staring back at me was an old lady. Seriously. An old needing-to-lose-some-weight lady. The gray in my hair seemed more pronounced than I remember from just the day before. My posture was that of someone old. Today, my mind set matched the reflection. It isn't always that way. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see what I feel...a young capable still-has-lots-of-life-left-in-her lady. Sometimes my mind forgets how old I really am and I think back to my younger days and forget that time has actually passed. Today I realized just how much time has passed. "Perhaps I should color my hair." I thought. Would that make me look younger? If the gray wasn't so...there? Should I invest money we don't have into products to try to help me look younger than I really am? Normally I would say absolutely not. Aging is part of life and is really impossible to stop. Some people cover it well with money thrown into products but eventually even products will not be able to cover the fact that one is really old. But I am not feeling that way. Today I am feeling desperate to recapture the youth I once had. Today I am down on myself as I see the old lady staring back at me from the mirror. Today I wish I had lots of money to undo what the years have done. Today I want to be young again. But today, like every other day, that just isn't possible. I guess I will have to get used to that old lady in the mirror and somehow make peace with the fact that she is me and there is little I can do about it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


It seems my brain is stuck on a few topics. One of them is friendship which is what my last post was about. My wheels have been turning regarding this topic but more so as to how it relates to the younger generation today.

I think friendships for today's young teens and teens are so different then what I experienced as a teen. My friendships, as eluded to in the previous post, were close and personal. I had a face to face relationship with my friends. I shared with them and they with me as we would ride bikes or drive somewhere or just take a walk to the store to get away from parents. While I know these types of friendships still do exist, it seems that they are not as common. Now, sharing is done via text message or facebook posts/messages. There is something lost in a text message or a facebook message. These modes of communication lose the body language and non-verbal cues that we rely on for precise interpretation when we communicate face to face. It is the reason why e-mail communication is never as reliable as face to face talking.

Facebook, in particular, contributes a unique element to the world of friendships. Most people have several friends and often not all of them get together at the same time. I know as a teen I would on occasion spend time with Jen but more often spent time with Kris. Usually the one didn't know I was with the other. If I was with Kris, most likely Jen was with some other friends of hers. Seldom were the three of us together outside of school. We just weren't a threesome. There were no hurt feelings or feeling left out because we didn't broadcast to the facebook world what we were doing. That is not the case now.

Now, I see hurt because a couple friends posted pictures of their time together and my child realizes she was, once again, left out. Or they announce plans on facebook and she knows that once again she was not included. Of course, there is no law that says everyone has to be inluded all the time, but when it is made known in such a public forum, it hurts. Human nature is such that when we feel we are not wanted, it hurts. And I fear that these kinds of hurts are leaving scars that will not easily go away. No one likes to feel unloved or unwanted, yet that is precisely what often happens with facebook.

I need to step up prayers for my child, that she would be protected from others' insensitivity...that she would know regardless of what so called friends on earth think of her, that in the eyes of God, she is valued as a precious treasure. That doesn't go far right now when she feels left out. I just don't know what else to do.

Friday, July 15, 2011


A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. ~Proverbs 17:17

I have been contemplating friendship as of late. Growing up I had a handful of people I called friends. In the elementary years most of my time was spent with my neighbors, Mike, Vinny, Chris and Danny. Mike lived right next door and Vinny across the street. These two were definitely the closest friends I had during those years. We walked to school together, swam and rode bikes in the summertime together, trick or treated together...pretty much spent at least part of everyday together. We were all in a different grade. I was the oldest, then Mike was a grade behind me and Vinny was a grade behind Mike. It didn't matter. We were true friends.

As I moved into junior high years Kris entered my life. We were meant for each other--no doubt about it! She practically lived at my house during the summertime! Jen joined us a bit later. But Kris and I stayed best friends. I still love her dearly and correspond with her although not as much as I would like. She moved soon after getting married and I moved as well, but I know we could see each other now and it would be like we were never apart.

As I moved into adulthood, I struggled in the friend category. I had a very close friend from my Hopkins years although we have since drifted apart and although I have tried to initiate contact, that effort has been largely ignored. I have given up for now figuring it just isn't meant to be. There were neighbors in Hopkins but they weren't really friends. I knew they could give my kids a ride somewhere if needed or watch them on short notice but there was no deep friendship or getting to know them there. During this time I met a long distance friend and she has been rock solid in being there for me--but, sometimes, a phone conversation is just not enough.

Upon moving to Buffalo I have made several friendships. Like the moon, though, these friendships wax and wane at times. I guess that is how life works. We all have busy seasons where we separate ourselves from those around us. I have done this at various times as well, not realizing that when we just stop talking to people for a time, it hurts them. When we let them down it is going to hurt. I am now experiencing some of that hurt. People I counted as true-through-thick-and-thin friends have not been there lately.

I have two choices in the midst of this. I could isolate myself as well or move on and look for what God has in store for me. I am choosing the second. I have already seen God bring a few new women into my life who I am hoping will become true-through-it-all friends. That is not to say I want to walk away from previous friendships. I still love those folks and would welcome them back if they desired to come there. I just refuse to come across as dependent on these people for my happiness (something I have been guilty of in the past). I am thankful that God has brought me to a place where I can see that new friends don't have to replace the old ones. I am thankful for the new ladies who are taking interest in this life of mine and that I have the opportunity to take interest in their lives as well. Isn't that what friendship is supposed to be?

I know that my long distance friends--Kris and Katya--will always be my friends, but I also know that I need people close by to grow with. I know that as life brings changes that sometimes friends will change as well...even if that may be difficult for me. I also want to be graceful to those who, because of their own life circumstances, need to step back for a time. I pray that God grants me the mercy to allow them to do so lovingly and not judgmentally as has been done in the past both by myself and by those close to me.

I am most thankful that I have one friend who will never leave me, grow tired of me, lose patience with me, nor ever stop loving me. When human friends fail, as we all do from time to time, I am thankful that Jesus never does.

Friday, July 8, 2011


"I charge you in the sight of God and of Jesus Christ and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism." ~I Timothy 5:21

I came across this verse today while browsing through an article on homeschooling. The article was referring to teachers and parents who use the successes and/or failures of one student against another student. While it happens often in a classroom setting, it is a particularly easy trap to fall into as a homeschooling parent. What parent, even ones who do not homeschool, is not guilty of comparing their children at some point? "Oh, Johnny was such a tiny baby I assumed that Susie would be also." or "Susie was walking by the time she was ten months old. I wonder if I should be concerned that Johnny is 13 months and shows no interest in walking yet?" As Johnny and Susie grow mom and dad may try hard to not compare but chances are, if they attend the same school, well meaning teachers will do so. "Oh Johnny, I was your sister's art teacher and I remember she had such a wonderful talent for art! I can't wait to see some of your drawings!" Well, maybe Johnny can't draw to save his life! Comparison almost always leads to favoritism. Maybe Susie's teacher really loved the drawings she did and when Johnny is unable to do the same, the teacher holds a special place in her heart for Susie all the while encouraging Johnny to keep trying because she just knows that he can do it (even though he cannot no more than a fish can climb a tree.)

As human beings, we all tend to gravitate toward individuals who share common interests. I was a full fledged tomboy growing up, therefore most of my friends were boys. I played baseball, kickball, soccer, basketball and hockey everyday I could. You wouldn't catch me with a doll in my hands! My "favorite" friends were the ones who would do the things I liked to do because they liked those things as well. As an adult, and a former teacher, I know how difficult it is to not show favoritism. I had some students in my class who I just adored. Of course, that meant there were some whose personalities clashed with mine. They were most definitely not my favorites! In fact, being a young teacher, I would have given anything to rid my classroom of these trouble makers! I could not, though. You see, my professional duty was to teach my entire class and treat them all the same.

What does this have to do with Paul's letter to Timothy quoted in the beginning of my entry? Paul was warning Timothy of the dangers of favoritism in the church. Jesus did not play favorites. Yes, He had His disciples whom he loved and called to be set apart so that He could train them to continue His work after His death, but He did not elevate them over other people. In fact, when the mother of two of his disciples asked for special treatment for her sons, she was denied her request. God does not show favoritism in His kingdom. Favoritism in the church goes against what Jesus stood for while He ministered on earth.

I write about this because it is an issue we seem to be facing. Of course I cannot give specifics nor will I elude to any person or people whom I feel to be part of the problem, but suffice it to say it does seem to be a problem. Perhaps more so because the favorites are not my own kids. This time, it seems, my kids are on the outside watching a situation unfold that screams favoritism. Coming from a background where favoritism within the church negatively affected my spiritual growth, it bothers me to have my kids go through this. Of course, I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of gravitating toward a certain group of people, and that is fine if one is doing that with their own adult friends. The problem is when one is in a profession that requires love and acceptance and fair treatment of all and that is not happening, it becomes a frustrating existence, not to mention a difficult one to explain to kids. Looking back now I can see instances where one or more of my kids WERE the favorite and I was blind to the ones being ignored. I personally don't want to fall into that trap again and pray that eyes will be opened so others can see what they are doing to those to whom it is happening now.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Readings of Summer

I have been spending some of the extra free time I find on my hands during the summer catching up on some reading. I have spent time reading articles, blogs, and books. My choice of topic as of late has focused mainly on secondary education and post secondary education. That is where my kids are in their lives so it makes sense that I would gravitate to these areas. I was aware of the variety of opinions that exist on these issues before I embarked on this reading adventure, but I have come to realize that many people are not up to date on the current state of affairs as it relates to these topics.

Historically, there have been two options for a young person graduating from high school. One could choose to go to college (this includes technical schools) or one could choose to enter the workforce (this option includes the military route). College was reserved for those careers where a degree was necessary--doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. One didn't need a college degree for jobs such as those in accounting, store managing, restaurants, and even teaching. Laura Ingalls studied for her teaching certificate at the age of 14. Times have changed.

In my reading I came across many who state that college is a waste of money, some who believe that not all young people are suited for college, some who advocate college should only be encouraged for sons while daughters should be encouraged to stay home until marriage, some who believe all high school graduates should go to college for at least a year...the opinions are many. As I sorted through them, I found myself disagreeing with many that I once agreed with and vice versa. I used to think I had it all figured out, but times have changed. The biggest influence on my thinking was not a blog or a well written magazine article, but rather a documentary titled, "Waiting for Superman". If you have not seen this movie, I encourage you to spend the dollar to rent it from Redbox. It will open your eyes to the true state of public education in America.

I used to think college was not for everyone. I still believe that to a point. There are some special needs students who would obviously not be successful in a college setting. But, for the average student who is capable of doing better than he or she showed in high school, I have come to believe that college is a necessity. According to the documentary, the United States will not have enough qualified individuals to fill jobs in the engineering fields in the foreseeable future. Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds everyday and our high schools are not doing a good job of keeping students up to par with the advancement. That will leave the United States no choice but to recruit qualified workers from countries whose educational systems are tarining their students poroperly--India, China, and Japan for example. In these countries emphasis is placed on learning and achieving academically, while in America we still feel that our high school students are children and deserve "play time". Students in these other countries have longer school days, weeks and years than their counterparts in the U.S. This gives them a huge advantage when it comes to being successful in college and beyond. Many American students who do go on to college often are going simply to party and enjoy the perks of living away from parents.

All that taken into consideration, though, I have come away from my readings believeing that college is essential to secure a good job. Of course there will always be exceptions. Everyone knows Bill Gates is not a college graduate and I'm sure most of us know at least one person who has made it in this world without a college degree, but the bottom line is as technology continues to advance and become more central to our everyday lives, our young people of today will need to have the skills necessary to keep up with the changes. I have also come to believe that going away to college is an important stepping stone to growing up. The cost is cheaper to live at home, for sure, but valuable lessons are lost by doing so. That must be a post for another day, though.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oh Summer...

Summertime is in full swing. If you know me at all, you know that I am not summer's biggest admirer. While I enjoy the laziness of the days and the lack of structure for a bit, I despise the heat and humidity that come with the season. I have never understood why people complain about the cold in January by saying, "You can't do anything. It's just too darned cold to go outside." Well, we have a heat intensity warning. The weather service has advised staying indoors due to the extreme heat index forecast for tomorrow. How is that any different from January?

Actually, this post is not a rant about summer weather. I bet if you scrolled through the archives you would find a post from last summer that covers that rant. This post is about the activity opportunities that summer presents. Or, should I say, presents for most people.

On any given day this week, one can sign onto facebook and read posts about Valleyfair, camping, vacations to Dsineyworld, cruises, mountains in Colorado or Wyoming, and a myriad of other fun things that families are doing this summer. Not our family though. No, the biggest thing Miss Bookworm and I have to look forward to each day is a trip to Walmart--Target if we are lucky. We have no money nor a vehicle that can get us anywhere for summer fun. I would love a day at the wave pool while Miss Bookworm would love a day at Valleyfair. Neither of us are going to get our wish granted. Mr. Accountant has been gone every night this week, reffing soccer games. We need the money. We still won't get to do anything fun.

I am miserable. I realize I am choosing to be this way and perhaps, if I really struggled with it, I could break out of this pit. I don't think so though. I hate the life I have built and I resent the fact that we get to do nothing remotely fun. I can pretend to be happy and content but the truth is I just am not. I so much wish we could do a few fun things over the summer. I know that won't happen and at the close of summer 2011, another school year will start with nothing worth remembering from the lazy days of summer. Nothing, that is, except the misery of heat, humidity and boredom from a 15 year old who wants to have some fun on her break but cannot.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Class of 2011

This is the last week of school in our town. For Mr. Well Rounded, it is the last week of high school ever. He graduates this coming Friday. He is quite excited to be done with high school and go off to a Bible college where he will be around like minded people for a while. This has been a difficult year for him.

In the middle of 5th grade, we were told by his teacher that we would be better off homeschooling him. They did not have a gifted program in the budget (we had just left a school district with a wonderful gifted program) and the school had run out of ways to challenge him. His three siblings were already being homeschooled so bringing him home was not a difficult decision. He was home for the rest of 5th grade as well as 6th, 7th and 8th grades. He went to public school for 8th grade band and science and after school sports (soccer, basketball and track). Near the end of 8th grade Mr. Well Rounded decided that maybe it was time for him to go back to public school for high school. I did not object as I had run out of ways to challenge him as well. After meeting with the assistant principal and a school counselor, we decided that his going to high school full time would be a good fit. There were classes to challenge him, and while he didn't like some of the required classes, he put up with them. He was social and had many friends--most of them from the marching band which he participated in the summer following 8th grade.

Fast forward four years and he is now a senior...a senior not only tired of high school and all its drama but a senior tired of this high school and many of the fake people that occupy it. This senior year has been a difficult one. This has been the year that he has stood most strong for his faith and has suffered because of it. Students who once called themselves his friend have turned their backs on him and stabbed him in the back in the process. (Not the forementioned marching band friends--while they are not a close group anymore, they are still friends) Most of his difficulties have come from one particular group.

High school is a difficult process. Some kids come out unscathed but those are few. I think those are the kids who are not heavily involved in who go through the motions, do decently and keep to their small group of friends, never branching out. Mr. Well Rounded was a very busy high school student--academics, athletics and the arts all fill his high school resume. He has friends from each group and there are some from each group who have given him much heartache. I guess that is all part of the experience.

If I could do over, I don't know that I would be as quick to agree to his returning to school. But I believe that BHS is a better school because Mr. Well Rounded walked its halls and proclaimed his faith throughout them. I will miss him tremendously as he goes off to begin the next phase of his life, but I know that ultimately he is God's child and is in God's hands.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why I didn't go see the musical

This past weekend the theater department at our high school presented their spin on the musical "Godspell". Mr. Well Rounded had auditioned for the musical and had made the cast. Upon further thinking, based on the way the director was presenting the musical, he decided to drop out of the cast. This was not an easy decision for him. This would have been his last performance on the high school stage. He did not agree, however, with presenting the gospel as a circus which is how the director had chosen to do the play. There was also the issue of some of the cast members who are so liberal in their thinking yet call themselves Christians...Mr. Well Rounded had run-ins with a few of them in the month prior to the musical auditions. All those factors combined influenced his decision to drop out. He decided to run track for his final spring season of high school.

As opening week approached, the local newspaper ran a feature on the musical as they always do. I happened to pick up a paper that week to see if there were any news articles about track that I would want for Mr. Well Rounded's graduation party. I began reading the write up on the musical. It described the plot and the circus theme and then said what would ultimately keep me from supporting this production. I do not have the exact quote since I have since recycled the paper but in essence it said that the musical portrays Jesus as the loving and tolerant person that he was. Excuse me, but Jesus was NOT tolerant.

That word "tolerant" has been thrown around in the last few years mainly to bash Christians who, most others see as non-tolerant. They are right. Christians are called to be like Jesus and Jesus wasn't tolerant. He called out the Pharisees every chance He got; he rebuked sinners by telling them to go and sin no more; he overthrew the moneychangers in the temple. Jesus loved sinners. We know this because He healed them and forgave their sins and spoke and hung out with them, but He was NOT tolerant of their sin. He called out the woman at the well for who she really was. He was saddened when the rich man refused to sell all he had to follow Jesus, yet Jesus did not make an exception for him. It had to be 100% Jesus or nothing at all...He did not tolerate wishy-washyness (to borrow from good ol Charlie Brown). No, Christians are not nor should they be tolerant. Loving, yes. Tolerant--absolutely not.

I, for one, am very glad that Godspell is done. I asked Mr. Well Rounded yesterday as we were eating if he thought he had made a mistake. After all, facebook was a buzz with glowing reports of how wonderful and God-honoring the musical was. He did not hesitate when he answered, "Absolutely not...not for a second have I ever second guessed my decision. I am enjoying track and the people in track are often nicer and easier to get along with then the theater people. The people praising that show are not looking at it through the right lens. I am very happy with my decision." I guess that says it all.

So, the last musical for my son is over and it was strange to not go and see it. I am glad it is done and I am glad I didn't spend the money to go watch a production where the disciples were dressed as clowns and Jesus was tolerant of whatever came His way. I personally do not believe Jesus was pleased with this production. Of course, we are dealing with a public school so I shouldn't be surprised.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Talented Kid

I picked up this week's issue of the town newspaper. There, in a large picture on the front page, is the cast of our high school's One Act play. They are going to State competition for their performance of "Pagaent Play". And in that picture, in the back row, is my son. Mr. Well-Rounded really lives up to his name. He is a musician (both vocal and instrumental), an actor, an athlete, an honor student, a class cabinet member, speaks four languages, a church youth group leader, a worship leader, and a really nice (and good looking) young man. Sounds like I'm bragging? Not intentionally, for there is another motivation behind this post. Mr. Well Rounded has a packed resume from high school. His picture has been in the paper for a wide variety of things (he played soccer, he got into an exclusive music program at a private music school in the cities, etc). He does not lack for positive references. But he is not the youngest in this family. You see, there is one who always seems to feel as though she is living in his shadow. Miss Bookworm is her name and I wish I could make her see that she is not her brother, but she is still loved as much as he is. Her picture has been in the paper one time...when she was inducted into the Tri-M music honor society as a freshman. Mr. Well-Rounded didn't get in to that until he was a sophomore. She forgets that and still feels inferior. She is not an athlete. That is ok. She is a musician (vocal but was a gifted violinist until she gave that up to sing) and she is quite good at singing. She is not a straight A student. That is ok too. She is a hard worker and is usually quite conscientious about her work. She is homeschooled. I wanted to send her to the high school full time next year. Nothing against having her home. I just don't feel as though I am doing a good job of teaching high school. There were many tears at the mention of this potentiality. She goes for choir. I know she would adjust just fine. There is adamant refusal to go. Then, as I was browsing the paper, reading the article on the One Act cast and coming across the pictures on concert choir and concert band (yes, the two highest levels in our school) and seeing Mr. Well-Rounded smiling from those pictures as well...reading the article on what an honor both of these groups had in being selected to perform at the state's music teacher's dawned on me. I don't think I would want to be the younger sibling of Mr. Well-Rounded either. He is known by every teacher in every department and liked by all of them. And while she shouldn't have to follow in his shoes, it would probably be expected of her simply because her last name matches his. Even Miss Musicmaker, who has a list of accomplishments all her own, said that she would NOT want to be Mr. Well-Rounded's younger sister.

I am proud of both of them. In my eyes, they are both precious gifts from God. Because God has bestowed more on one does not diminish the other in my mind. Convincing Miss Bookworm of that, though...well, that is a different story.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Blahs

I sat through Pastor Max's lesson on Job Monday night. I can say I learned some things and some things were made clearer, but I still have some issues with that book. It probably isn't helping that I feel like I am in a downward spiral emotionally and spiritually right now. I can't really lay a reason on why I am struggling so. Some people have said it's the weather. No. It is definitely not the weather. I love the cold and snow and actually get depressed thinking about spring and summer. I just don't know what it is, but I do know I am weary. I often think of the verse where Jesus says, "Come unto me all you who are weary and I will give you rest." I just can't seem to get some of that rest. My schedule is out of control. I am glad Anna got into show choir and that she is enjoying it, but it is taxing me being gone Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Add to that the stress of feeling like homeschooling is just a failure again this year and I just feel weary. Very weary. Perhaps this is just a season that will pass. I hope so. I want to feel well again. Perhaps tomorrow I will set up some goals to help me get there. Tonight, I am too tired to think that much.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why do the righteous suffer?

My Old Testament survey class is in the books of Job and Ecclesiastes this week. This is the second time within the last 6 months that I have read through the book of Job and, to be honest, I am still struggling with it. I don't question the authority of God to do whatever He wants. I get that we have ultimately no control over things. We are the created, not the creator. Yet, I am still frustrated and baffled by so many things in this book.

If, for example, Job was blameless and upright (as the first few verses tell us he was), why did God set him up for attack? Obviously Satan had to ask permission of God to afflict Job with the calamities that befell him. And God said "Yes." I don't get that. If some bully came to my door and asked me if I would allow him to beat up my son in order to build his character, my answer would be a resounding "NO!" I may even chase the bully off my property. My duty as a parent is to protect my son. I would not want to set him up for humiliation and pain. Now, as a parent, I do allow my kids to learn from their own mistakes. Mistakes are going to be made and I cannot protect my kids from all their consequences. But Job made no mistake that caused these disasters. It was simply God turning him over to Satan and putting the one perameter of not allowing death to Job in place. I don't get it.

Job was a righteous man. He was blessed beyond measure. Then, the blessings were gone. In the church I grew up in I was taught that if you obey God, then his blessings will follow you. (I don't think this is the same as the health and wealth gospel preached today which says if you have enough faith God will bess you.) Sin brings consequences and obedience brings blessings. It is the natural order of things. If my children disobeyed me, they would lose privileges of some sort, but if they obeyed, I would grant them extra favor to reinforce their prompt obedience. Of course, they, like all of us, did not ALWAYS obey the first time, but they knew the consequences would follow disobedience and blessing would follow obedience. Then I look at Job. He didn't disobey. He never cursed God. Eventually, his fortune was returned to him. Yet, anyone who has lost a child knows another child cannot replace the one lost. A void can be filled and love extended but one always wonders what may have become of the child lost. While Job did have children again to "replace" those lost, they were not the same children.

Why would God choose to withhold blessings from those who obey but bless those who curse His name? I just don't understand this. I know I need to move on in faith and know that not all things will be known on earth. This is getting more difficult, though, as I feel crushed under the hand of God. I feel homeschooling was a call from God for me. I gave up a full time job I enjoyed and obeyed. Living on one income has been beyond difficult. We seldom know where grocery money is coming from. We lost a home to foreclosure and now pay ridiculously high rent because we cannot buy a house. We drive old beat up and unreliable vehicles. We cannot buy our kids clothing on a regular basis let alone a decent car to drive. We cannot help with college expenses like parents are supposed to be able to do. I know these are material things but they are necessary material things. I find I am growing depressed as the financial frustrations just keep getting worse. What am I doing wrong that God is choosing to withhold blessings? Am I doing nothing wrong and this is just our lot in life? I need an answer and so far have not been able to find one.