Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Independent Thinkers


Someone has been teaching my children to think for themselves, to search for truth and not just blindly accept ideas just because some authority says so.

...Oh, wait, that was me....

When I began homeschooling about six thousand years ago, one of my heart-felt convictions was that I wanted my children to know how to THINK independently.

I taught them to show honor and submit to authority, but also I wanted them to wrestle through the tough questions and challenge weak logic so that after the wrestling, the convictions that remained would be unshakable.

Beware of what you wish for.

Here's the thing...(cringe)...

I always kind of assumed that their convictions would end up matching mine--because I'm right.

My idea was that they would wrestle and search and get all grown-up and independent in their thinking and then come to the very deeply-held conviction that Mommy Knows Best.  (I do, you know.)

Imagine my frustration, then, the first time my beloved child--a child I carried in my womb for months, nursed, potty-trained, nurtured and poured truth into---had the audacity to disagree with me.


It started when my oldest was about 14 years old, but back then I was the mom and I could still "say so."  She didn't have to agree with me, but she had to obey me.

We're entering new territory now.

My oldest is now 19--an adult in the eyes of the law--with two siblings close behind her.  If she wants, she can get a tattoo and there's nothing (legal) I can do about it.

She has legal grounds for saying, "You're not the boss of me!" (To her credit, she is wise enough NOT to say it...)

I can't even talk to the health insurance company to clear up a claim without her consent because "she's an adult." (Yeah, whatever... who pays the premiums?)

It's a bit unnerving, this loss of authority.

I raised my kids right--or as right as I knew how.

I encouraged them to think biblically and then taught them to do it.

I challenged their thinking when I thought it was faulty, and I instructed them to challenge mine when it contradicted the truth of the Bible.

I urged them to form their own values and convictions and hold them tightly.

And now...


I have to release them to live by their convictions.

When their convictions match mine,  it's a beautiful and exciting thing to behold.

When they don't, it's annoying.

In some cases it's even terrifying--because I realize that part of releasing them to live their convictions means allowing them to experience the full effect of the consequences of those beliefs.

What I really need to release is this notion that I have control, that their destiny is my responsibility.

It never was.

God gave me a job to do, but their lives are in His hands.  I need to release them not to themselves, but to Him.

They may mess up...just like I did.

Even in moments when they can't be trusted, He can.

Didn't He use even my gravest sins to bring me closer to Him?

Maybe I need to remember that the Father Knows Best. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Winter Gratitude Remembered in Summer: Just some highlights

1587. Bright orange beanies on our star runners that show they take their sport--but not themselves--seriously.

1590. Crisp mornings and long-sleeve shirts.

1591. Steer and pig playing sweet, but so dangerous!

1597. Cooler, off-season runs with my kids.  I love that it's hard to keep up (and that I almost can!)

1602. A break for the Cowboy to "relax" and enjoy the farm.

1608. A gift from the Word: "God is so rich in mercy and He loved us so much that though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead."

1609. Children who are growing up to be my friends.

1612. Good words about humble orthodoxy.

1618. Overlooking an offense--a chance to give rather than receive grace.  (... and the proof that God was in it: all these months later, I don't even remember what the offense was!)

1624. Four calves running up to the fence in greeting.

1627. Surprise backyard visitor: Stymie!  No need to mow.

1642.  Working in a tidy house.

1644.  "Carl," the neighbor's dopey Irish setter.

1645. Dinner with my favorite teenage Max, listening to his system of annotation: "Pink highlighting stands for woman logic."

1647. Songbird tromping up from the barn in her pajama bottoms and her Daddy's field jacket.

1649. Josh and Gage who tearfully offer up prayers for their "beloved Mr. Mike."  Love these boys!

1653. Cousin Ashley showing at the fair.

1655. The gift of not enough--to show me the One who is enough.

1670.  Tears shamelessly shed by strong, godly men over the loss of a friend.

1674. New friends sharing our campsite.

1678. Celebrating a life that was lived for the right reasons.

1688. The first batch of honey.

1700. Happy Girl's amazing photos of a wild hive.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Five Minutes: Listen


I remember reading about a person—don't remember if it was a mom or a dad—whose child kept saying, “Listen! Listen to me!”

Finally, in exasperation the parent said, “I am listening!”

The child corrected...”I mean listen with your EYES.”

That small person realized at a young age what we too often miss in our busy lives...listening—REAL listening--involves more that just ears. It requires full attention: eyes locked, hands stilled, heart engaged, focused attention.

This idea has taken on new meaning for me recently, as my husband has taken a job that keeps him gone from seven to twenty-one days at a time. Far away in a remote location with no computer, all we have (and I'm grateful for it) is a phone call twice a day. I can't listen with my eyes when we are talking; I can't gaze into his eyes as he speaks.

However, I still have to think about listening with my eyes.

Because although I can't look at him, my eyes can keep me from listening when they draw my attention elsewhere. The computer. The stack of dishes left from dinner. The book I'm in the middle of.

Then, because my eyes have seen, my hands want to fix and fiddle, wander. Before I realize it, I'm asking, “What did you just say? I didn't hear.”

The truth is that my EARS heard what he said, but I didn't hear it because my mind and my heart were elsewhere.

So, I'm trying a new method of listening. Listening without my eyes. When the phone rings now, and I see it's my Cowboy, I leave the room I'm in, lie down still on my bed, and close my eyes so that my whole focus is on really listening.

That's how to stay heart-close even with the Gulf of Mexico between us.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Unlimited Potential

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Last fall, two of my kids joined the Cross Country team for the first time.  Because it is a small school, the team consists of runners in 6th - 12th grade.  

Whether a runner is a varsity runner or a JV runner depends on commitment and race times, not on grade-level.  In fact, one of the faster varsity girls was a 12-year-old sixth grader!

Having inherited my athletic ability (cough, cough), my two athletes were steadfast members of the JV team. As in football and basketball, genetics play a huge role in performing at the elite level.  Although both kids worked hard and made great improvements over the season, there was never really any possibility of them running varsity.  (Even the slow kids on the varsity team were freakishly fast compared to the general population.) 

Their friend Taylor, also a brand new runner, was a different story.  She realized by the third race that she had the potential to be an excellent runner.  By mid-season she was consistently running varsity.  

However, along with that honor came much greater pressure and a much higher level of commitment on her part to maintain her position. She chose to give up many other things in order to focus on her running, because she realized her potential for success.  

It would be easy to look at Taylor's level of commitment compared to my kids and say that her character is greater.  While she does have a great character, it's no greater than that of many other kids on the team--varsity or JV. 

The difference is potential.  

Taylor realized that with total commitment, she could achieve a level of excellence that could win her a spot on a college team and possibly even a scholarship.  

In contrast, even if my kids gave total commitment and cut everything else out of life, they are not likely to get a running scholarship.  Although running is great for them, it is not an area of giftedness for them.  

There is no motivation to sacrifice all other pursuits to focus on running, when they don't have the potential for victory.  (I know, I know, just crossing the finish line is a victory, but hang with me here...)

What if....

what if there were something they could do, some pill they could take, that would GUARANTEE that if they put in the training, they would be Olympic contenders? 

I think we'd see their motivation and commitment level sky-rocket!

In 1 Corinthtians 9:24, Paul urges believers (like you and me) to "run in such a way as to win the prize."  Only here, he is not talking about a physical race, but a spiritual one. 

Unlike running, spiritual excellence is not a matter of genetics. It's a matter of the Gospel.

Yet I wonder how many Christians are content to be on the "JV" team spiritually, cheering the varsity team enthusiastically, but unwilling to give the commitment and sacrifice required to live victoriously?  

Although there are a multitude of reasons why, I suspect that often it's because   we don't believe we have the potential for victory.  We believe that no matter how hard we strive, we can't measure up.

How easy it is to look at our flawed and sinful selves and assume that holiness is reserved for those rare individuals who are "naturally" spiritual.


Every believer has the potential for holiness.

The Bible is very clear that EVERY follower of Christ is reborn with everything required to live a godly life and participate in God's work of restoration in this world.  

I have the potential to be a godly, victorious woman, despite my less than victorious past.  I am more than a conqueror regardless of my natural bent, because Christ has shared HIS divine nature with me.  It's not about MY ability, it's about HIS.

Can you see?  There is no reason for any believer to walk in defeat.  We simply need to grasp the reality and the source of our potential, and then train hard because we know that victory is guaranteed.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#1483- #1515

1483. Curly Caleb: "Caleb, you're making a mess!"
         "I know...It's 'cause I'm little."

1484. Phone call with my parents.

1485. My father's deep thought and wisdom.

1486. Coaches who expect athletes to behave with honor.

1487.  The flash across a student's face as understanding sinks in.

1488.  My goofy boy:  "How is biology coming?"
           "Let's not talk about that just now, shall we?"

1489. Pumpkin Pie sticking her little calf nose into the truck, so curious.

1490. Dr. Who suit for silly.

1491. Playful Rocky, chasing the dog, the truck, whatever!

1492. Reward for sitting very still: a hesitant nuzzle from a calf.

1493. My Wednesday engaging and fun.

1494. Laughter that diffuses stress.

1495.  Another miraculous provision of aircraft work just before a lean season.

1496. Sunrise at my Bible table.

1497. Silly pre-class chatter: "Dude, I am a man-child.  I shave.  I can watch My Little Pony if I want!"

1498. Honey bees working the pasture, pollen sacks bulging bright yellow.

1499. Luna: Happy Girl's 4-H pig.

1500. Unexpected expense on top of already significant "extras"--a hard eurcharisteo that gives a chance to see the Provider work.

1501.  Gift from the Word: Hebrews 10:21-22  "And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him.  For our hearts have been sprinkled clean with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water."

1502.  Cute Shelly G.  "I really like learning in a house!"

1503. Oddball compliment: "This is my most comfortable class."

1504.  The ponderings of Happy Girl: "Sometimes when you hear a song, you just know: This guy has a beard."

1505. A steer and a pig.  Unlikely companions.

1506. Frank lying faithfully beside the caged and recovering Montana.

1507.  Escapee pig, chasing chickens and squealing in delight.

1508. Team family to cheer my kids across the finish line.

1509. Clean, sweet-smelling sheets.

1510.  Our amazing immune system!

1511. Deep truth:  The greatest killer of joy is expectations.

1512. The perfect surprise: A new pack of EXPO markers.

1513. Jonathan Edwards: When God has a great work for His church, it must be preceded by great prayer by His people.

1514.  Frank lying extra still in the pasture, surrounded by inquisitive calves inching closer and closer to sniff him.

1515.  A carload of girls singing Brad Paisley's "I'm Still a Guy."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I'm Baaaaack!



Six-months into 2013 and this is my first post of the year.  

That should tell you something.  

I began this year declaring that my Word of the Year was NOURISH.

By February 15--when I could even remember I had a Word of the Year--it was SURVIVE
(because it was more encouraging than LOSER).  

Here's what this academic year looked like for me: 

EIGHT classes to teach, two kids to homeschool, oldest starting college, husband's new career keeping him gone half of the month, leaving me to oversee the running of a 20-acre farm

....and let's face it, I'm no Pioneer Woman.  

Let's just say that for the past ten months I have been so far out of my comfort zone, I don't even know if I could find my way back to it at this point...

I'm all about being authentic, but really, any blogging done over the past several months would likely have been much more bitter than sweet, as I ranted about apathetic students or lamented about missing so many deadlines that I was reduced (more than once) to a sobbing heap on my bathroom floor.  I decided some things are best left un-shared.

(You're welcome.)

Now the last used curriculum sale is over, which makes it officially summer vacation. 

I survived.


And Happy New Year.


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