No Time Like the Present

…to start preparing your Advent activities.

If you do that sort of thing. I do. Here’s one of my favorite things to do with the little beings:

Advent

 

That’s an affiliate link. Of course!

A Conversation

Would you counsel your child to date an unbeliever?

Mom: Hey, sweetheart, I saw that handsome young man…um, Cody? Is that his name? I saw his mom yesterday!

Daughter: Yeah, that’s his name. What about him?

Mom: Well, you know…he is a really popular kid, lots of trust fund money and a wonderful future in politics. All the other parents are trying to get their daughters into his social circle. Would, um…would you like to date him? Maybe even marry him? It would be such a step up for you to really understand the way his world works, be a part of it.

Daughter: No, Mom! He’s popular, and cute, and I guess it would be a lot easier on you if I wasn’t home every weekend while the rest of the kids are out necking, but weren’t you trying to raise me to be a Christian? Don’t you want me to marry a Christian?

Mom: Of course I do, honey! I want you to marry a Christian very badly! So you get out there and make Cody a Christian! Doesn’t he deserve to hear the word of God?

Daughter: Mom, I don’t think I’m prepared for that. I’ve only been a believer in my own right for a couple of years. What if he wants to teach me some of the things he’s been doing? Like having sex, doing drugs (just a little weed, nothing serious). What if I don’t yet have the understanding required to resist his arguments? If I give him my heart, don’t you think I might compromise? Aren’t we supposed to keep from being unequally yoked? And won’t he, being the person of higher social status, be the leader of our relationship? So won’t I be the one who ends up learning from him?

Mom: Yes, honey, but I just know that your light in his life will change everything. Your mere presence is enough. I’ve arranged a date with him Friday night. He says he’s bringing condoms and a pack of Camels, but I’m telling you, just say no. I know you’ll be strong enough. And sweetheart, do make sure you learn everything about his point of view on the subject. Be respectful when he pulls you into the backseat of his car. You don’t want to be narrow-minded!

Daughter: Don’t you think…maybe you could just tell his mom about Jesus? Or we could send them a tract? Talk to them together?

Mom: Oh, no, honey. Your presence is required, in this way. Sorry. That’s just the way it has to be. Nothing else will work.

Daughter: Hm. OK, Mom. I guess you know what you’re doing. You really do care about Cody’s soul! So much that mine is of almost no account at all! Thanks so much for that!

 

And that, my friends, is why we don’t send our children to public schools as missionaries. It’s not about what’s popular, or what makes social sense, or spreading the gospel (seems we could do that without sending our precious daughters to the drive-in with Cody, doesn’t it?), but about protecting those things which are valuable. World-view matters. Understanding matters.

If you don’t believe in missionary dating, why do you believe in missionary education?

Who’s in charge matters. 

Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? –2 Corinthians 6:14-16

A Day in the Life

Lessons and life are keeping us pretty busy here at the GAH! household. So busy, in fact, that I kinda forgot I had a blog. Sorry about that.

I thought it might be fun (for me, if not for you) to give a play-by-play look at our day. The problem with that is that I can’t decide whether to do this on a day that is going well (to show how good it can be), or a day that is going poorly (so you’ll know that you’re not alone in your fallen state). Since I’m not sure which to do, I’m just going to live blog today, starting now. You never know what you might get!

9:13 a.m. Breakfast was over half an hour ago. The children are supposed to be cleaning up their zones. I divide the living areas into smaller chunks and give each child responsibility for keeping that area clean for the day. When Mama hollers “ZONES!”Everybody immediately hops to and starts to tidy up, laughing gaily and helping one another along as needed. ROFL. When I give the signal, everyone wanders around aimlessly for a moment, a couple of kids fight about who was assigned which zone, and then, eventually, after I’ve reminded them a time or two (or ten) more that they shouldn’t stop until they are finished, we have a clean(ish) living area.

9:15 Scratch the “live” part of “live-blogging.” I can’t update on the fly. I’d lose track of things. I’ll just post this all at once. Tomorrow. Maybe. (OK, it turned out to be next week. Busy.)

9:20 I’m off to transfer some laundry to the dryer. Started it before breakfast. Only one load today! Then we will pray, sing, and read for our morning meeting. I’ll have my computer handy to take notes. Hark! What song is that? Why, daughter is crying. Mommy to the…oh, OK, now she is laughing. I guess I’ll just let them work it out amongst themselves, whatever it is.

9:30 Baby needs his nap. Nurse him while we read and sing. We usually have this done by now. Today’s reading is a chapter in Genesis. The seven year-old boy narrates, though not well. He needs prompting. Lots. Was he even listening? No, but the five year-old girl was, and big brother was, so they add what they know. We sing Draw Me Nearer, and then do our memory box.

9:45 Put baby in his bassinet. Good grief, the little boys are so LOUD! “Please don’t follow me. You’ll wake up brother.” And, miraculously, they don’t, and he goes down without waking up.

 

9:50 Listen to a couple of scenes from Hamlet. Those who can, sit and listen. The rest go play quietly. My desk is a tangle of wires, books, kleenexes, etc. I think I’ll straighten that while we listen. I say “Hush.” A lot. I guess the “quietly” part didn’t go so well. I pause it, send the tots out of the room, and start over because no one was listening. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Finally, the three oldest children are sitting and ready to listen. We listen. I do a little bit of my jigsaw puzzle while we listen, then David narrates. Mommy re-explains some things. They enjoy the Shakespeare mornings. ‘Tis true!

10:20 Tot school. I read a story and give the two little boys some undivided attention while the older ones do some copywork and spelling practice, maybe even get started on their reading lists. Then the littles play on the porch on this beautiful fall morning. Rice play, anybody?

Rice play

Sometimes tot school is a song and a book. Sometimes we play playdough or color. Baths are good for this time, too. Sometimes they wander off and do things alone, but I don’t let that happen very often.

This isn’t a time to just get them happy so they’ll be out of the way (though it does work out to that effect), so much as it is my time to fill up their hearts with the knowledge that they are loved and I am interested in them. I remember feeling like no one was very interested in my goings-on when I was a child, and it was pretty lonely feeling. I don’t want to do that to my babies. (I still feel that way sometimes, actually. What are you doing here?) I don’t want my kids to feel that way. Once they’re taken care of, I can devote more attention to the big kids, who are ready for…

10:50 Math. Start with the oldest and work my way down while the little boys do whatever it is that little boys do when mommies aren’t looking. It’s going to run long, due to whining. Hopefully, we’ll still have science. If not, we’ll push that up into our margin time after lunch.

11:30 There are men in my kitchen now. That’s because my cabinets started coming down off the walls a few weeks ago. All by themselves! Old house. Glad it’s not ours. They’re finishing up the replacements, and distracting the kids. I am done. Done. DONE. But we can fit in science now because I can’t make lunch anyway.

11:35 That part about doing science? Scratch that. There are men in my kitchen. It’s very distracting. Tomorrow is another day. Everybody is free to play or read.

12:00 The men didn’t take long, so we clean up after them and eat lunch. It’s just leftovers. Quick and easy.

1:30 “Zones!” They do better in the afternoon. I clean up the kitchen and dining room. Then we make beds, tidy rooms. Most of us, anyway. I’m nursing the baby and directing the little boys in picking up their messes. I send the two big boys to fold that load of laundry. There’s a baby in all of this somewhere. He’s just along for the ride. Not much to say for himself, I guess. He just hangs out with whoever.

Hanging out with sister

2:00 Littles go to naps. Time for me to clean the bathrooms. As soon as the boys finish their laundry, I’ll have them work on their reading lists, narrating as they go.

2:45 Reading lesson for the 5 and 7 year olds. She’s catching up to him fast.

3:00 Handicrafts. We’re doing basket-weaving (using this book to learn). Sadly, I failed to buy the flat oval reed, so I have to order that before we can continue. We only made it to the third row.

Handicrafts

But that’s better than nothing, right? Since we can’t do that, now’s a good time to pull out a new picture to study. AO has us doing Fra. Angelico. After that, the boys and girl will play until dinner time. Sometimes, though not today, I’ll play our composer study song for the week during this time, too.

Between now and dinner, I will nurse baby, check in on Facebook and Twitter, read my feeds, and finish this post. Then I’ll make dinner, and whatever is left undone after that will wait until tomorrow. Before I go to bed, I put the next day’s plan on the whiteboard, and we’ll do it all again tomorrow.

So, there you have it. A day like this is possibly boring to read about, but it was very busy and productive and fun for us. And I guess that’s what matters.

 

 

Speak for Those Without a Voice #IAmYourVoice

If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the unfolding chaos in Iraq with a stomach-churning anger and sadness, not knowing what to do, other than pray. I happen to think that praying is the very best and most useful thing a Christian can do, so at least we can do that. God is their help, and our prayers are effective! However, if our prayers spoken in faith don’t spur us to action, what good are they?

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. –James 2:14-17

My friends from Planet Mommyhood have taken action, and they’re asking us to join them in helping our fellow Christians in this time of need.

Watch this:

Then visit I Am Your Voice to find out what you can do to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. Or you can go directly to Food for the Hungry and donate to help feed and sustain the families who are fleeing ISIS, often with nothing more than the clothing on their backs.

Another ministry you may want to consider donating to is RUN Ministries. I’m told that they have refugee facilities set up and are risking and sometimes losing their lives in order to give a safe place to fleeing Christians and Yazidis. I have not checked into this ministry myself, but it’s another option.

Jon-Lorond Saves the Day

Support a budding children’s author.  Jon-Lorond

I want to introduce you to a friend of mine, Hanna Rasco. Hanna is a dreamer, and a writer, and (most importantly) a mother with a heart for her kids. Watch:

Now, I have noticed the same problems with children’s books that Hanna has. Boyish themes are hard to find in this culture, unless by “boyish” you mean “gross, icky, rude, and stinky.” It seems that all the adventurous and heroic writing is done to encourage girls to be more like…well, boys. Then boys end up with books full of fart jokes and sensitivity training. That is simply not good enough!

I hope some of you will consider joining Hanna’s Kickstarter campaign.  (I will be pledging my financial support, too, of course.) The book looks wonderful, and some of the perks for backing this project are pretty enticing, as well. Hanna is offering everything from superhero capes to secret family recipes.

Click here to find out what you can do to help this creative mama give her sons (and yours) some heroes in their stories.

Excuses, Excuses

My dad’s a preacher. Y’all knew that, right? Well, he is. And he’s the kind that likes to get out and knock on doors to see how the people are doing. Naturally, that means he has a lot of stories about the excuses people make to avoid Sunday morning (or any other time) worship.

I don’t keep transcripts of conversations (that would be weird), so what follows is a composite of a couple of anecdotes of both his and mine.

Christian (Chx): Do you believe in Jesus, God’s son?

Unchurched person (UP): Oh, absolutely, yes!

Chx: Oh, good! Well, if you don’t have a church to attend, we’d love to see you at ours!

UP: Oh, no. No, I couldn’t do that. You see, my neighbor, who very conveniently attends a church you’ve never heard of, is a very bad witness. She gossips and curses and probably does worse than that.

Chx: Oh, so you’re saying she’s a hypocrite?

UP: The worst!

Chx: Well, why don’t you just get in church and show her how it’s done, then?

UP: Yes, but…well…I just can’t feel good about worshiping with a bunch of hypocrites. I can’t believe Jesus would ask me to do that.

Chx: Tell me, where do you think hypocrites go when they die?

UP: Hell, of course.

Chx: Well, do you want to spend eternity with them, or just Sunday mornings?

UP: But I don’t have to go to church to be saved!

Chx: You’ve got an interesting definition of “saved” if you think that. If you are a believer, you will want to be in fellowship with other believers so you can learn and grow. The Bible tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We’re also told that there will be fruit in the lives of those who are saved, and one of those fruits is love for the rest of the Church–even those that are failing miserably at the moment. There’s no such thing as a one-member church.

UP: But those people aren’t really Christians!

Chx: Really? Do you believe I’m a real Christian?

UP: Of course! I know you are because we’ve been friends for so long. You mean it. I’ve seen the way you treat your wife. I know you’ve never cheated anybody in business. You know the Bible better than anybody I’ve met!

Chx: Well, why not come on down and worship with me, then? I’ll sit right beside you!

UP: Oh, well, you see, there’s this lady at that church across town who gossips. And besides, I don’t really have anything to wear…

Dear unchurched person (the one who claims to love God. We’ll deal with the admitted unrepentant some other time):

If you continue to live a life apart from Christ, when you stand before God, you’re going to stand there alone, unprotected from actual Judgment. I’m not talking about the “judgment” that you think Christians are heaping on you when they tell you that you need to repent of your sins (something we all have to do). I’m talking about Judgment with a capital J, the kind that sends you to Hell.

Please understand that God is not going to ask you how such-and-such down the road made you feel about your lifestyle. In fact, He wants that “judgmental” person to make you aware of your sin so that you can be forgiven of it. He won’t care much whether you liked the demeanor of the man who greets (or fails to greet) you on Sunday morning. He won’t care if the people in your local church suited your personal taste.

Of you, and of those whom you revile as hypocrites, He will only ask one question:

“Did you repent and worship my Son?”

Repentant people seek to worship Christ. They seek to learn more about him. And they seek each other. When a Christian is cut off from the Body, for whatever reason, he feels it keenly, and he wants to remedy that situation as quickly as possible.  Anyone who claims to want Jesus, while excusing his distaste for worship with invectives about those “Christians” is fooling himself. While he pretends to be “hurt” at all the “judgment”, what he’s really doing is judging Christians in general to deflect awareness of his own sins.

I can tell you from my own experience that when I became a believer, my formerly “judgmental” “stuck up” Christian neighbors suddenly looked very different to me. They looked sincere to me, where before I had seen hypocrisy. I thought I saw anger in them because they made me angry. But they seemed concerned now, where before I had thought them judgmental. I saw them as judgmental because I was heading for Hell, and they knew it, and they didn’t pretend otherwise.

Excuses will not save you, friends. Only Christ will. Only repentance will. No matter what the failings of the individual in the next pew, you must face Him one day with your choice. So what’s it gonna be? Are you going to continue to cut off your own nose to spite your face, or are you going to start seeking a place to worship him?

Why People Are Leaving the Church

Seems to be a hot topic right now, so I thought I’d tell you the real reason. I can do it faster than those other articles I’m reading, too:

People are leaving the church because they don’t want Jesus.

If they did, they’d find their place in His body, then stay and serve him there.

You’re welcome.

Have a simple, uncomplicated, and obvious day!

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32 

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. –Colossians 3:13

Homeschool Survival Tip

Whew! We’re already at the end of two weeks of our first Ambleside Online term of the year! I’m not sure if you all noticed (I assume you have better things to do than sit around noticing things like this), but I have not written a single useful word in months. Sorry. We’ve been busy. But I do have a word for you. You ready for it?:

Recovery.

There you have it. That’s all you get from me, and I won’t charge you a dime for it. (I’m trying to be like Dan Phillips says, and not be too wordy. Bye, now!)

OK, I’m kidding. Recovery is a very good word, but requires a bit of explanation, doesn’t it?

It’s a homeschool planning word, so if you’re not a planner, maybe skip this tip. I’m going to be full of tips, among other things, from now on.

If you want your homeschool to be successful, not stressful, plan a recovery day into your week. A recovery day is not a day of rest. That would be the Sabbath. Recovery Day is still a work day, but it’s an unplanned work day. You know, for all that stuff that you planned, or forgot to plan, or wish you hadn’t planned, but still have to do, that didn’t quite happen on the other days of the week.

When I first started teaching these kids (formally), I had five days a week marked out in beautiful, permanent pen. It was so pretty, so inspiring, to look at my planner. But then by the end of the first week, my planner had been brutally marked up and scribbled out and only half accomplished, not because we hadn’t worked hard enough, but because I hadn’t planned any margin time. There was no room for mistakes and surprises. Being lamentably human, I can’t help but have a few of those, but I was a noob, and this fact had somehow not occurred to me yet.

Now, though, we have a recovery hour during the little kids’ nap time every afternoon, and then the whole day on Friday is for catching up on whatever fell by the wayside throughout the week.

Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you actually do everything you plan, when you plan it. If so, hats off to ya, and please don’t laugh at me. But for the rest of us, this is one way I’ve found to build flexibility into the school plan.

What about the rest of you homeschool parents? How do you recover your unfinished plans?

How’s This?

Redesign! I might tweak it a little bit, but I think I like this. You like this? Should I put back the dark background?

Pardon the Mess

We (OK, Jesse) got the spammy stuff out of the blog, but my blog design got caught in the crossfire. Oh, well. I was thinking of a redesign anyway. Try not to notice all the ugly going on around here for a few days (or weeks). Thanks!

Pasta Primavera

Pasta PrimaveraOr some approximation thereof.

It has been a while since we’ve had a recipe, hasn’t it? Well, this is more of a round-about way of making a meal than it is a proper recipe. I never make it the same way twice. And hillbillies don’t know much about Primas, though I do know an old lady named Vera; so this primavera is probably not remotely authentic. If you have a grill, then fire that thing up instead of the oven. I do not have a grill, sadly, so I have to heat up my kitchen to make it.:

Pasta Primavera
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: ha!
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Pasta, roasted veggies, cheese.
Ingredients
  • Use any of the following vegetables in any amounts you like. More veggies=more love, so don't be skimpy about it.:
  • 2 zucchini, julienned
  • 2 yellow squash, julienned
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 1 onion, julienned
  • ½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, whole, outer paper removed
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ Tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper (Freshly ground, but I don't need to tell you that, right? Right?)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 1 pound spaghetti or other pasta
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400.
  2. Toss veggies (except tomatoes) and seasonings in oil, then spread in a single layer over two baking sheets.
  3. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.
  4. Wrap head of garlic in foil, with a little olive oil drizzled over it, and throw the packet on a baking sheet.
  5. Roast the veggies for about 25 minutes.
  6. If your oven won't hold both pans on one rack, switch the top and bottom pans halfway through for even browning.
  7. Add the tomatoes to the top pan in the last five minutes of cooking. You just want to warm them up a little, not cook them much.
  8. While veggies are cooking, prepare pasta according to package directions.
  9. Drain pasta, then melt butter in the pasta pot. (How much? How much butter do *you* like? Let's say half a stick)
  10. Remove the garlic from its foil, adding any oil from the packet to the melted butter. Let it cool a little bit, then smash the roasted garlic from its casing using a big flat knife like a chef's knife. (This part is fun if you do it right. Cut the root end of the garlic off and smoosh from the pointed tips of the cloves and it should squeeze right out.)
  11. Give the garlic a few good smashes with the knife to make a paste.
  12. Add the spaghetti, veggies (along with their oil), mashed garlic, and parmesan cheese back to the pot, and toss to mix.
  13. Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

So, there you go. One of my favorite pasta dishes. Hope you like it!

Measuring Motherhood

What is motherhood really worth?

If you’ve been on Facebook around Mother’s Day, or spent any time at all reading mom blogs, you’ll have seen numerous articles about how much real money a mom is worth. You know the ones. They add up the yearly wages of chauffeur, chef, daycare provider, psychologist, nurse, etc., and that’s how much you’re really worth, Mom! This past Mother’s Day, there was a very sneaky bit of advertising wrapped up in a video about how motherhood is “the hardest job in the world” and pays nothing. Nothing at all. (And now that you’re feeling guilty, kids, you need to fork over your whole allowance to buy an amazing gift for that completely unappreciated mom in your life!)

Eh. Maybe motherhood is that hard, maybe it isn’t. What I’m more concerned about is what it says about our society that we mothers so need our value to be defined in dollars and cents and hours “worked” that, instead of being ignored as the irrelevancies that they are, these things get passed around like a cold virus in a mid-winter Sunday School class. These articles, infographics, and videos all play to our desire to be appreciated, not by our own immediate families, but by the Joneses.  It’s not our children or husbands that we’re aiming at when we repost these things. We know they love us. We know they know how much they need us. It’s distant relatives, friends, and even strangers that we’re trying to convince. We look at the wider world and beg “Please, appreciate us! Look how much we do! Look how much money we’re worth!”

What motivates you as a mother? I can tell you what motivates me, and it’s the blossoming of my children under my care. I know I’m not alone in that. Nobody really measures that relationship in cash. It’s when we turn our faces from the people who make us mothers, and stare into the faces of strangers that we suddenly we feel the need to justify ourselves in terms of dollars and cents.

If we had any sense of our own real value, we’d find these memes insulting, not inspiring.

Think about it for a moment. Is a prostitute more valuable to a john than you are to your own husband, just because money changes hands? Do you measure that intimate relationship in terms of dollars per transaction? No? Then why try to measure something as priceless as motherhood in currency? Why do we think that being able to put a dollar amount on those things we do makes us seem more valuable, rather than less? All of the things that we can pay–are, in fact, encouraged to pay–other people to do for our children do not add up to our true worth. There is an insidious strain of thought in our culture that serves to separate us from our most important work–that of raising our children–by making all other jobs but motherhood out to be fairly compensated. If you cheapen motherhood, you cheapen the people mothers serve, as well. The Enemy knows this quite well, so he does everything he can to make mothers look elsewhere for their sense of self-worth.

If you’ve been here for a while, or if you’ve read my ebook, you’ll be familiar with my story about the second grade teacher who taught me that “mother” is not something worth aspiring to. I suspect that the reason we’re all so desperate to prove our cash value is that, like little Cindy long ago, we’ve been taught that the only way to be a grown-up is to bring home a paycheck. Further, I suspect that the reason we’ve been taught that a paycheck equates to usefulness, and the reason that government schools love feminism so much, is because government schools are tax-supported, and you can’t tax mere motherhood. You can only tax income.

And so, from our earliest grade-school lessons, income has become the only value we know how to assign people.

The trouble with the dollar value model of measuring motherhood is that you can’t pay a chauffeur to have a heart-to-heart in the car about the way the rest of the girls treated your daughter after dance class. You can’t pay a daycare worker to look lovingly into your baby’s eyes and tell him he’s still loved while she cleans up the accident that so embarrassed him. You can’t pay a housekeeper to pray over the people to whom the house she’s cleaning belongs.

You can pay people to do the physical act of care-giving, but you can’t pay people to love your children while they do it.

We women have outsourced so much of our physical labor, and not just as mothers, but as daughters, neighbors, and church family, that society has lost its understanding of our spiritual value as care-givers. Most people in our culture in this neglected generation haven’t often felt the difference between care administered for pay and care administered out of love and concern for the well-being of the recipient. We’ve gotten used to being “served” in any number of intimate ways by people who don’t really care a hill of beans about our spiritual condition. But we are people, not machines. We need to be served, not serviced. On a gut level it will always matter to our children whether the people around them would still care if they weren’t paid to.

Motherhood isn’t cheap. It costs us everything we have sometimes, doesn’t it? But it is free! And we do ourselves no favor when we encourage others to view it as a merely financial transaction. To assign a dollar value to what we give daily as mothers only cheapens the relationship. It’s time we reject these cheap, manipulative demands for cultural validation and instead learn to respect the sanctity of our unpaid, often difficult, even lonely, but indispensable and invaluable private duties to our families.

grrrr

I’m working to figure out what’s going in with the spam in the rss feed. Something was hacked. Obviously. Stay with me. I’ll get it fixed. :-)

Jord Watch (Review and Giveaway)

“Watch.” Tick-Tock said, nodding. “Ay, a likely enough name for such; after all, what does a person want with a timepiece but to watch it once in a while?”

–Stephen King, The Wastelands


Has there been another time in history besides our own where so many things are rendered into anachronisms so quickly? Granted, the Victorians might come close (when was the last time you needed a shoe buttoner or a mustache cup, for example?), but we seem to be losing things very quickly. I mourn my Walkman, rotary phone, and even my CDs are looking a bit old school.

One thing that I’ve refused to let go of, however, is my watch. It’s not so much out of need, since, working in technology, it seems like the current time is provided by nearly every single surface around my office, my car, my home, but there’s something reassuring about my watch. It may seem like an affectation, but I find that there’s always that odd moment when I’m out at lunch and the cell is dead or back on the desk, or out for a walk, or in any of a countless number of other situations in which I still need to have the time close at hand.

Cindy gave me a Jord watch a few weeks ago. She was asked to write a review of it, but, being a men’s watch, she asked me if I’d review it instead.


I was skeptical of the thing, at first. It’s…wooden. It’s a wooden watch. What in heaven’s name do I want with a wooden watch? It’s also pretty large. As big as it is, you’d expect it to be one of those new-fangled interfaces to your smart phone (as if you didn’t have enough going on to drain the battery).

Turns out, there’s a lot to like about a wooden watch, and I haven’t taken it off (other than bed time and showers) since I first put it on.

The band was large enough to go round my ankle at first, however I was able to drop links quite easily using a pair of tiny flathead screwdrivers. I despise having to go to a jeweler’s to have a watch resized, so this was a big plus.

It’s also extremely lightweight. I’ve been wearing a steel watch for a long time; once I started wearing this one, my other feels like I’m putting on weights to go deep sea diving.

The band and body are carved from sandalwood. This makes it extremely pleasant to smell; this got me in trouble, though, the first time someone commented on it. “Smell my watch!” is one of those comments that will make people think you’re a bit of a pervert, and I don’t recommend it. Shame, that; the smell really is very pleasing.

And believe me when I tell you that people will comment on it. I wouldn’t recommend this watch to someone who’s not somewhat outgoing generally, because this thing is going to constantly break the ice for you, like it or not. It’s not quite as predictable a conversation piece as a puppy, or having six kids, for example, but it’s a close second.

I do have two small nits to pick, despite the fact that I wear this watch all the time. The numerals are mounted round the square edge of the face, which makes reading the hours between 1 and 2, 4 and 5, etc, very difficult. I’m getting somewhat used to it, but it’s very easy to find yourself an hour off occasionally. Also, I’m not sure who it was that thought a blue second hand would be easy to see against a green face, but this person surely has better eyes than I do. While I’m not color blind, I had the watch for a week before discovering that it even had a second hand.

These are trivial complaints, though, and are far outweighed by all of the positives. I’ve been pleased by the thing, and am very pleased to have it. You would be, too.

Buy: You can buy one of these beautiful, good-smelling watches at the Jord website.

Win: One Get Along Home reader will win a Delmar-green Jord watch. (Don’t let the word “green” throw you off. This watch goes with everything.)

How to enter: Just leave a comment. Have you ever seen a wooden watch? Or smelled one?

Details: This giveaway is open to anyone in the US. This giveaway will be open until midnight, June 4, 2014. The winner will be chosen by And the Winner Is… WordPress plugin. You can leave as many comments as you like, but only the first comment will be considered a valid entry. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response after 48 hours, I’ll have to choose another winner. Please use a valid email address in your comments so that I can contact you if you win! Please use one email address per entrant, per household, per IP address. The giveaway provider (not Get Along Home) will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Good luck!

Disclosure: We received a free watch to review. No other compensation has changed hands. Here’s your mommy/daddy blogger grain of salt.

Permission to Be Ordinary

Homeschooling is going mainstream, and we’re about to lose one of our favorite arguments for it. 

Homeschooling is kind of an extraordinary thing to do, isn’t it? Even with the rapidly rising numbers of homeschooling families each year, we’re still in the minority (for now). Nearly every weekday outing I take with my kids requires me to explain to someone why my older children aren’t in school. People still don’t think of children staying with their mothers all day as a very normal thing. Parents just aren’t qualified to raise kids, you know.

When we think of homeschooling, we still think of violin-playing spelling bee champions with 140 IQ’s who were just too smart for normal school. And you know what? There really are a lot of home educated kids like that! It isn’t at all surprising that homeschoolers like to promote as much good press as we can for ourselves. Here’s a popular infographic, and I think it has some interesting facts that ought to be considered:

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure UpSource: TopMastersInEducation.com

Stories in the news like this family with seven kids in college by the time they were twelve years old, and blog posts asserting that homeschooled kids are 120% more smarter than public schooled kids are constantly circulating the web, not because those are our best reasons for homeschooling, but because to be able to associate ourselves with such an outstanding group of people easily counters the arguments of which we grow so weary.

“You’re not qualified.”

“They’ll never get into college.”

“Homeschoolers are bad at math.”

Just a few weeks ago I had to listen to my neighbor explain to me that I can’t possibly teach my children math in the higher grades, so I’d better be ready to send them to school by eighth grade. (I’ve learned to just nod my head and pretend that I’m going to take that brand-new, brilliant idea into consideration. I really don’t care what the neighbors think.)

We homeschoolers love this kind of evidence that homeschooling “works” because pointing to other people’s results is a lot easier than explaining our core reasons for keeping our children at home. Our motives are good and wholesome and altogether defensible, but because we live in a society that scarcely even understands what education is for, those points also take longer to explain and upset people more often than the academic argument.

I have to wonder, though, if we’re not accidentally making the task of defending our choice harder by using these kinds of things to bolster our case. You see, our stellar statistics and outliers like the “Brainy Bunch” family set some unrealistic expectations for normal kids. The first generation of homeschoolers was almost certainly an unusual group of people. It seems to me that they required a unique set of characteristics–qualities that usually go hand-in-hand with high intelligence and academic achievement–to be able to boost the homeschooling movement from the gravitational pull of traditional education. That first generation had, at the very least, enough imagination to dream it up, confidence to follow through, ingenuity to figure out how, resourcefulness to keep it going under pressure, and courage to fight the courts and social stigma.

As homeschooling becomes more mainstream, though, we are going to see some regression to the mean (though I doubt that we could ever regress to the abysmal performance of public schools). Because homeschooling really is a viable and superior alternative, and for reasons that have little to do with math, more and more parents who would never have considered such a thing before are going to jump on the bandwagon.

Those stellar statistics are going to level out, homeschoolers.  At some point, our neighbors are probably going to notice that some of us are pretty awful at math and science, and most of our children are going to trade schools or straight to the workforce instead of to Harvard. For that reason, it would be good if we kept our debating skills sharp, so that we can explain why homeschooling is well within our rights, regardless of our outcomes. If our best defense of home education is that other homeschoolers are really smart, we are sunk, because most of us are going to be graduating children who become ordinary people.

And that’s OK. Cashiers and plumbers, homemakers and factory workers are every bit as necessary to the functioning of society as engineers and political leaders.

Homeschoolers, as much as we cheer for greatness and excellence, and hope to see our children attain the absolute pinnacle of their personal capabilities, we need to give ourselves permission to be ordinary. The rightness of our choice to raise our own children isn’t predicated on our academic results or our children’s future earnings. It is based solely in our right and responsibility to raise our own children for the Glory of God. (Yes, I am aware that many people homeschool without any religious purpose, but they still have that right and responsibility, whether they know it or not.)

If we don’t keep our focus on that first principle, we’re going to make life mighty hard for our kids who are better at bricklaying than calculus. Not only that, but we might find our right to raise our own children, so hard won by the first generation of homeschoolers, diminished by our own focus on the wrong point. We need to speak the language of liberty when we defend our choices, rather than flashing the gaudy plumage of worldly success.

Test scores may temporarily dazzle our opponents into silence, but they will not stand the test of time like the simple truths of God-given rights and individual responsibility.

 

Samaritan Ministries

Samaritan

Please note that I am not an expert on all things Samaritan, nor am I associated with them except as a member. I’m just explaining things to some people who asked, and this post is not meant to be taken as expert advice on the subject. So don’t blame Samaritan if I’ve misunderstood something. However, if you decide to sign up for Samaritan after hearing about it from me, I’d love for you to name our family (Jesse and Cindy Dyer) as your referral. It helps cover a portion of a monthly share when we get sign-ups.

Children don’t cost a dime, as I like to point out to people who ask me how I afford all these kids. Hospitals, on the other hand, do.

Several readers have asked me to tell them more about Samaritan Ministries. Our family joined Samaritan Ministries back in August, 2013. Between the so-called “individual mandate,” and the fact that our high-deductible insurance kept getting more and more expensive while decreasing in usefulness, we decided to get out of traditional health insurance. I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to participate in a thing less than a know-it-all government telling me I have to, or else pay a fine tax whatever they’re calling it this week to make it seem legal.

However, I don’t like breaking laws (even questionable ones like this), so we couldn’t just not have coverage of any kind. Fortunately, members of health care needs sharing ministries like Samaritan are exempt from the individual mandate, so there is a way to both buck the system* and appease the IRS when tax time rolls around and you have to prove your health-care status.

Need-sharing is a pretty simple idea. Instead of paying a third party you simply send your monthly share amount to the person assigned to you by the ministry. When you have needs that are shareable, you submit your bills and the ministry sends your name and address out to others so that they can share with you. I didn’t want to jump in and tell all about need-sharing until I was sure of the way it works, and whether it works, so I’ve been waiting for my bills to come due for the baby before I wrote this post. Well, here he is!

 

Cute, huh?

And here the bill is!

 

A better way to pay for health care.

Not so cute.

And that’s doesn’t even include the anesthesiologist. Or the doctor. Or the baby’s hospital stay. Or the pediatrician. Wowza. This is kind of terrifying, isn’t it?

But it doesn’t have to cost that much. One of the many things I love about Samaritan is that they will help you negotiate down the costs of your health care. I have called for myself a few times and asked various offices for discounts, and sometimes I even get them, but the professionals do a much better job of that because they know more about the inner workings of the (criminally ridiculous) financial side of health care. Always ask for help.

Does it work? Yes! While I have been skeptical that everything would be paid on time–after all, we’re depending on people we don’t know and who could flake out any time–the bills that I submitted earlier have been paid, and I’m confident that this bill will be paid, as well. Samaritan will always make certain that shares not received are reassigned to other members as quickly as possible. In addition to providing funds, members pray for each other, and there is always someone available at the ministry to pray for us, as well. There are, however, times when the amount submitted is more than the amount of money available, and then members receive less than the full amount of their bills. The ministry does have its ups and downs, life being unpredictable the way it is.

Who is Samaritan for? The most important requirement is that you be a church-attending Christian, and not engaging in any risky or immoral behavior. The reason for that is that this is a religious ministry for believers who want to depend on their brothers and sisters when they need help. It is not a health insurance plan. Samaritan is most likely a good choice for any Christian who pays for their own health care. It is a GREAT choice for anyone who hates the current state of health insurance and wishes to take action instead of just complaining about it.

Who is it not for? People with a lot of pre-existing conditions might not want to go this route. We have several conditions in our family that we have to cover out-of-pocket, and we’ve been blessed to be able to do so, but that is a down-side of this kind of thing. If you do join, the ministry shares these kinds of needs as “special prayer needs,” and many members (ourselves included) make an effort to send whatever they can for these kinds of special needs. So even those things may be less of a burden than you’d think.

I would also not consider this plan if I didn’t have enough emergency money stashed away to start making small payments on the bills myself, because it does take from 30-60 days for the checks to start rolling in.

What is covered? Any non-pre-existing need over $300 is covered, with exceptions for things like illnesses and injuries related to immoral behavior. Routine physicals and pre-existing conditions are not covered, nor are vaccinations, birth control, or baby murder. You always cover the first $300 of any need, but any discounts you receive are applied to that amount, so you can often end up will full coverage. There is a limit per need (not per year, as I had said earlier), but you’ll need to browse the literature to really dig into all the details. Even with these exceptions, we’ve found it to be quite affordable.

Does this post mean you’re blogging again? Yes! I missed you people. I hope you don’t mind if I blog some more, but if you do…well, don’t let the door hit ya.

Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with every detail of our good experiences thus far with Samaritan Ministries, but it has been good, so I thought you’d like to know. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can download an information packet or watch an introductory video.

Please note that I am not an expert on all things Samaritan, nor am I associated with them except as a member. I’m just explaining things to some people who asked, and this post is not meant to be taken as expert advice on the subject. So don’t blame Samaritan if I’ve misunderstood something. However, if you decide to sign up for Samaritan after hearing about it from me, I’d love for you to name our family (Jesse and Cindy Dyer) as your referral. It helps cover a portion of a monthly share when we get sign-ups.

Teach Them Diligently

We were on a break!

But! I’m interrupting this very peaceful time of not-blogging to remind you that there are still two chances to attend Teach Them Diligently in 2014. The first two events were by all accounts even better than they were last year, so you really need to get yourself there.

After you register, take advantage of the Refer-a-Friend program to save a little money by earning TTD Bucks to spend at the convention, or even win a free hotel stay for your trip!

teachthemdiligently

 

Disclosure: Affiliate links support this site. Thank you for buying through our links!

I Think This is it.

The Big One.

The one where I really do quit.

I am, and have been for some months, tired of this.

Tired of hitting “publish” and then constantly being surprised by what really sets people off.

Stupid stuff I write in five minutes on a whim goes viral and the content that means something, and should be passed around and appreciated is basically ignored. TL;DR, dude.

I’m tired of butting my head against walls too hard even for my steel-plated, rhino-skinned noggin.

Tired of fielding questions I’ve already answered from people who can’t be bothered to read me right the first time, or at least use the stinking “search” feature to see if I’ve already covered that.

I’m tired of even the fun stuff–the lighthearted and funny and life-affirming stuff that I’m pretty sure I used to crank out every now and then.

I avoided posting this on April Fool’s day because I may be a fool, but I’m not kidding. I’m done, for now. I don’t know if I’ll be back. I want to come back. I have a pretty big attachment to the writing I’ve done, such as it is, so I’m going to maintain this site.You can still read my free ebook, and I hope you will:

Childfree missions? Terrible, terrible idea.

.

 

I may even pop in from time to time with the things that I have a burning need to write. Sometimes I really can’t help myself. Taking this blog down would be a lot like blowing up my toilet just because I was constipated. Eventually, I will need to go. Wouldn’t want to destroy the only safe and sanitary place I can put it when I do.

I may regain the ability to care in the future. This may be just a season. For now, though, I’m done.

Thank you (most of you) so much for reading, for encouraging me, for sharpening my thinking, for just existing. You’re not what I’m leaving. You, the readers and commenters, I will miss. Already do.

I just don’t have much to offer you right now.

Besides, could you take your eyes off this long enough to write anything?

Baby6

Because I can’t. Motherhood calls. Bliss!

 

 

 

Comments Off

Sorry to do that to you so soon after a post. Long unplugged weekend coming up here. And by “weekend” I probably mean “you won’t hear from me until the birth announcement.” I’m 36 weeks now, and have no desire to blog. Unless something else grabs my attention, I guess. Anyway, have a good one!

Intentionally Childless Missionaries?

Childfree missions? Terrible, terrible idea.

Pastor John Piper advises Christians to sow the seeds of Western social sickness in other countries.

One of the things that has baffled me about the pastors in our times is their inability (or outright refusal) to consistently apply scripture to one of the defining issues of our times: birth control. They’re pro-life, but not necessarily pro-conception. Pro-marriage, but not pro-childbearing—at least not beyond that number of children that society has decided is “reasonable”. They’re convinced of God’s sovereignty as the Giver, Sustainer, and Taker of life, but still blissfully unaware of the presumptuousness inherent in the routine prevention of life. Most of the time, the issue of conception remains unaddressed in the pulpit and the pastor’s office while we wrestle instead with the sins of abortion, divorce, and homosexuality.

But once conception becomes a choice we allow ourselves to make, rather than a gift God graciously bestows on us, we Christians put ourselves on same slippery slope at the bottom of which we now find our unbelieving Western world–as this blogger calls it, we’ve embraced the “fetishization of marriage”. Marriage is for us alone, for our pleasure, for the serving of our own needs and lusts. We can do marriage however we see fit. It is ours.

Now, marriage certainly is meant to fulfill our emotional and sexual needs. But that is not all it is meant to do. Sadly, even our most important public Christian voices, our most loving and Godly pastors, seem to be happy to compromise the institution of marriage, as long as it is in the service of what they see as a good cause.

Unlike me (Hi, I’m Cindy. Just a housewife with a blog.), John Piper requires no introduction. Multitudes follow him closely, and I count myself among them. I enjoy his thoughts on Christian hedonism, God’s sovereignty in suffering, and race relations within the Church. I can’t peer into hearts, but when he speaks and writes, I feel pretty certain that I’m listening to a man who really, really loves and trusts in the Lord. He’s pretty thoroughly biblical, and always thoughtful. But in his daily “Ask Pastor John” spot yesterday, he advised a young lady in a way that makes me think he didn’t give a lot of thought to his answer before he dove in. I’ll transcribe a little bit of it, but you should listen to the whole thing to understand what I’m addressing, so that you don’t get the idea that he went completely off the rails with his answer. He makes a few reasonable-sounding points, but they’re not strong enough to support his conclusion.

The questioner asked:

“I’m a 20 year old woman who by God’s leading wants to live among unreached people-groups in India or the Middle East. I’ve never had the desire to have my own kids, even though I love kids, and the guy I’m currently dating doesn’t either. If we get married, we see ourselves living as Paul-type missionaries. Practically speaking, it makes sense to not have kids.”

And she goes on a little, and then Pastor John says, essentially, “Yes! Missionaries are in extraordinary circumstances and can be assured that there is Bible teaching to back up the idea of being married but refusing children.” Somehow he missed the fact that Paul-type missionaries are only childless because they are unmarried.

Now, this young lady is quite obviously aware (somewhat shockingly, in this ignorant age) of the connection between marriage, sex, and children, and also of God’s social design for the institution of marriage, or else she wouldn’t have couched her question in terms of “but isn’t it ok for us to refuse to have children if we can say it’s for God’s sake?” Is there any doubt that this young woman is searching for absolution from what she knows to be disobedience in ordinary circumstances by claiming her extraordinary calling as an exemption from the rule?

The tip-off here is the fact that she started her question with an explanation that she doesn’t particularly want children, but she does want the benefits of this young man’s sexual companionship for the rest of her life. If this was really a question about the best way to be a missionary, she’d have started there, not with her own feelings about kids and her (current) boyfriend.

Pastor John’s answer, though at least (thankfully) enthusiastic about the blessing of children, and rather cautiously given, still leaves the listener with the idea that children are a choice, and that they could be a liability to the Creator’s work. He managed to forget that the Creator of those unreached peoples (and they do have children in India, don’t they?) is also the Creator of the children of the missionaries who serve there, and He is a Creator who knows what He is doing when He creates life.

I see no need to rewrite my own words, so in answer to this, I’m simply going to quote from a chapter from Deceived: Little Lies…

We think we know better.

Among the arguments for the superiority of “planned” families is the idea that God wants us to use our own understanding to find the optimal number of children for our abilities and desired lifestyle. Even though He said to be fruitful and multiply, even though He cares for the children of the poor as well as those of the wealthy, even though He never even hinted in His word that limiting the growth of the human race would help right the wrongs of the Curse, we believe that we moderns at long last know better than He. We seem to think that He left something out of His written Word, or that biblical counsel isn’t quite enough to help us think about modern technological advances.

At the extreme end of that argument, I’ve even heard it said that having fewer children means being able to give even more of our lives to God’s real work, so it’s selfish to have too many children to tie us to the home. (emphasis added) Women with fewer children can minister more outside the home, where all the real needs are. They can take paying jobs and donate more money to charities. They’ll be better rested, and hence more capable of raising the few children they have with joy. Instead of adding more sinners to the world, we’ll just save the ones already born, they say.

This idea that through modern contraception we have this new, wonderful way to help God redeem His world reminds me of the account of Saul’s disobedience to God in 1 Samuel 15. God had told Saul and the Israelites, through His prophet Samuel, not to spare any of the Amalekites’ people or possessions as they conquered them. The Israelites, though, thought they knew better. Saul captured the king of the Amalekites instead of killing him, and the people saved the best of the livestock as well. And why?

Well, I suspect that it was really for their own gain, and they would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for that pesky prophet! But Saul gave a novel excuse for his disobedience when Samuel caught him with his hand in the cookie jar: It was all done to help God!

You see, all they wanted to do was sacrifice these animals to please the Lord. It seemed such a shame to waste them. The Israelites somehow just knew, against the plain words that Samuel had spoken in the presence of all of them, that God didn’t really mean all that stuff about wiping out the enemy as they took the land. They could serve Him much, much better by saving the animals for sacrifice.

And Samuel said:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

and to listen than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,

and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,

he has also rejected you from being king.”–1 Samuel 15:22-23

We have a direct command from God as descendants of both Adam and Noah to “be fruitful and multiply,” and we have many indications of His continued approval of human procreation throughout the rest of the Bible. He wants to bless the faithful with overflowing homes!

But we think we know better now. We want to say we are “sacrificing” our natural ability to have children so that we can do “more” for Him–or do more for ourselves, when we’re so bold as to admit that motive. It seems a shame to us to waste all that female human potential just popping out babies.

But is this what God has asked of us? Has God ever considered raising children to be a less important task than other things we might do with our lives? Did He ever speak in such a derogatory way about motherhood (e.g.: baby factory, popping out babies, breeder) as we in this culture do? Has He ever made it a matter of choice? What does He really desire? Wouldn’t He have told us somewhere in His word if He had changed His mind?

There are a few questions I think Pastor John should have asked, instead of affirming this future missionary’s desired conclusion:

  • Why do you assume that God can’t add to the number of voices glorifying his name through your offspring at the same time that you are ministering in foreign lands?
  • Why do you think that living as a missionary in a foreign land is a special circumstance where marriage is concerned? Have there been no married missionaries with children before?
  • How do you think the married couples in your future home overseas will react to the idea that their homeland is not a good enough place for you to raise children?
  • Why not just join a well-chaperoned mission along with this man as a co-laborer in Christ and remain unmarried, if your purpose is really to keep your focus on spreading the Gospel instead of  having your own family? You’re still going to have that whole “husband-pleasing” problem if you get married. (1 Corinthians 7:34)
  • How do you plan to teach the whole Bible to these unreached people groups while somehow protecting them from the unbiblical, western, feminist, sterile view of marriage and children that you bring along with you for the sake your own convenience? This is a view of marriage that quite clearly ends  in the social corruption that we witness today in our own Western nations. We have seen the fruits of this thinking! It’s not good fruit! Why take that idea over to a people who might even still believe (correctly) that children belong on the asset side of life’s ledger?
  • Do you believe that God would give you and your future husband children He has no use for in your mission work? As Sally Clarkson says of her own ministry, if God calls you to do something, He’s also calling the children he gave you to serve alongside you.

Childbearing is not a decision God has ever asked us to make for ourselves. In fact, despite Rev. Piper’s illogical extention of Paul’s principle of singleness to somehow include marital sterility,  remaining single is not itself a decision God has asked his workers to make for His own sake. For the person gifted with singleness as Paul was, it is a natural outcome of personality and circumstances, not a painful, hand-wringing choice made in an effort to please God with our sacrifice.

I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. (emphasis added)

–1 Corinthians 7:7

Paul’s assumption here is that most people are not gifted in this way. He’s simply saying “This ‘singleness’ thing God gave me has worked out well. It might not go so well for you, so if you burn with lust, get married.” And getting married goes with making babies most of the time. If no babies happen, then God can certainly be in that, but it’s never offered as a choice. Childbearing is never even lamented as a burden to the Gospel, but as a blessed addition to the family of Christ. It seems clear to me that getting married so that you can slake your lust for another person, but then refusing the God-given fruits of that holy union was not quite what the apostle had in mind when he wrote this passage.

I know that I’m just a hillbilly with an internet connection. I know that John Piper is far, far beyond me in spiritual understanding and Bible training. I wrestled with myself all night, trying to conclude that Piper and I can both be right here, or at least that I could be wrong. But, comparatively feeble-minded though I may be, I simply can’t see any way to reconcile what Piper says he believes (and what I believe) about the sovereignty of God in human affairs with what the pastor has told this young lady.

Yes, all things are lawful for us, and we have lots of room to discover our spiritual freedom while still receiving infinite mercy (and correction) from God, who remains our Father through all of our missteps. But it is undeniable that behaving as though children are a choice has been a pretty honkin’ big mistake for the Western world, and Rev. Piper has just advocated exporting that same mistake to other countries through the work of married, but intentionally sterile missionaries. That just seems too egregious for me to let go, even though I am hardly worthy to shine John Piper’s intellectual shoes.

I hope Pastor John will come to a different conclusion the next time he has to address such a question. The young people of our generation need better counsel than this.

Oh, My Word, I’m So Tired

Just thought you’d like a pregnancy update. 33 weeks today. Feeling very large and not remotely in charge. I’m sure anybody who has ever put on 25 pounds of fluid, fat, and kicking, squirming, ouch-that’s-my-bladder-baby can relate. Is this another one of those “blogging will recommence in a few weeks” posts? I don’t know. I’ve got a dozen ideas, and nothing but weariness when I sit down to write them. For now, all of my meager energy is being spent on homeschooling and housekeeping.

Sadly, y’all have to come last. Miss ya, though! Don’t go away. I WILL return. I just know it.

UPDATE: Oh, yes. Almost forgot. Between now and whenever I regain my ability to hold a thought in my head for more than twenty seconds, there is at least some reading material to be had. Don’t forget to read my ebook, Decieved: Little Lies the World Tells to Keep Christian Families from Growing. Click:

Don't forget to download your copy!.

 

Two Simple Life-Changing Prayers

Today I’m handing the blog over to Jennifer White of Prayerfully Speaking, as she shares her faith adventure with excerpts from her free ebook, Prayers Spoken, Lives Changed: God’s Extraordinary Love in 18 Ordinary Lives. Her testimony of God’s faithfulness to answer our prayers will encourage you.

I learned the hard way that my faith in God was only a phrase unless I applied it to my life. Hindsight = 20/20, right.

Decades of sermons, Sunday School lessons, training union, Bible and devotion readings, church camp, and more were stored in my mind. But my experience of His power was lacking. I had not yet seen the power and love of God displayed in my own circumstances. Of course, He had actively loved me, provided for me, and protected me, but I had not recognized it in a way that made me sure of Him. Unfortunately, during my first marriage, my faith in God was only based on knowledge.

Divorce. I pursued divorce because I had never translated “Jesus Saves” to “Jesus Saves Marriages”. I was filled with fears that things would never change. And I was sure that I was emotionally safer on my own.

After the divorce, I spent one year in Christian counseling. I found another chance at true love, and married again. Surely the counseling insured I was choosing a spouse more wisely, right! Then – more marriage issues. I had too much pride to divorce again. From deep down in my soul, I prayed the desperate prayer: “Help Me Jesus!”

I had no idea what I wanted or needed. I just cried, “Help me Jesus!” day and night. I was lost in a sea of problems with no answers. I couldn’t fix this.

Regardless of the depth and width of my pride and other sins, God was faithful to answer my prayers.

He led me to take a break from working, which gave me time to attend Bible studies at our church. The homework for these studies kept me in the Bible at least forty-five minutes every day. God also led me to a new Christian counselor who used the Words of God to counsel me. She also led me in prayer throughout the sessions.

She helped me see the difference in what the Bible said and what I believed about God and myself. The reality of the spiritual battle was beginning to make sense to me.

Somewhere in this wild faith-deepening pilgrimage, “Help Me Jesus!” evolved into “God, Show Me Who You Really Are!” I remembered a sermon from Isaiah 6, when Isaiah saw the Lord. God’s Spirit prompted me to ask for the same privilege.

 Two Simple, Life-Changing Prayers

Those were prayers God wanted to answer! He wanted me to see Him. He wanted me to see His power to deliver me from the lies I believed about Him and myself. He was orchestrating my circumstances to help me to see Him.

Beginning to know Him was the beginning of my real healing. My once blinded Christian eyes were now able to really see His character and apply it to my experiences.

Amazing.Grace.

Today, David and I have been married for over fifteen years and we truly enjoy being married… to each other! I’m working diligently to finish the manuscript of Prayers for New Brides: Putting on the Armor After the Wedding Dress, set to release in January 2015. Only God – patient, merciful, redeeming God – would allow a once emotionally wrecked, divorced pastor’s wife to write to new brides.

He is MORE faithful than any of us can dare to dream.

See God Move Mountains

If you are ready for a big dose of “God Answers Prayer” reality, download a FREE COPY of my ebook: Prayers Spoken, Lives Changed: God’s Extraordinary Love in 18 Ordinary Lives. You will find answers to prayers in the areas of marriage, adoption, missions, financial need, physical healing and many more. God is Able and Available!

Two Simple, Life-Changing PrayersJennifer O. White is an author, speaker, and encourager to those seeking a life of hope, peace, and confidence. Join her on a brave life and marriage -changing adventure with Jesus at her blog: Prayerfully Speaking. Today’s post is an excerpt from her forthcoming book: Prayers for New Brides: Putting on the Armor After the Wedding Dress

Early Rate and $5 Discount Code

I don’t want to worry you or anything, but I’ve got urgent, gotta-do-something-now news for you:

This is your very last chance to get the best possible price on a Teach Them Diligently registration for your family if you plan to attend the Spartanburg or Nashville conventions.

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention 2014 Spartanburg

Why should you, you ask? Well, from my own point of view, it’s partly because I’m only fifteen cents short of an affiliate payout for TTD. Gotta feed the blog, people.

But there are lots of great reasons for you to attend that have nothing whatsoever to do with my bank account. I won’t be able to attend this year, since we’re having a baby in March, but I sure wish I could. Last year I learned so much, and came home with such a better vision for bringing up my children, that I can’t imagine anybody not finding something to benefit them here. Even non-homeschoolers or pre-homeschoolers can learn a lot from the wonderful speakers about discipleship and loving our children into the kingdom.

Last year, my only complaint was that there wasn’t a time set aside for corporate worship. In Nashville, at least, that’s being taken care of. Keith and Kristyn Getty will be in Nashville on Friday, March 21:

Gettys

And now, rather than try harder to convince you to do something that I know you really do already want to do (don’t you?), I’m just going to go take a nap. Pregnant ladies need naps.

Check out using the code TTDSAVE5 by February 7th to get the best price on your family registration. (You can add extras like the children’s program and the men’s breakfast later, if you’re not quite ready to commit to those yet.)

Disclosure: In case it wasn’t already totally obvious, I stand to make a few dollars, at no extra charge to you, if you sign up for Teach Them Diligently through my links. Since some people think that that is an egregious conflict of interest, here is a non-affiliate link through which you may also sign up. Really, I just want you to get to a TTD convention. They’re awesome. Just don’t click any of the other links in this post first so you won’t have it on your conscience that I earned money because of you. Get your mommy blogger grain of salt right here.

God is Faithful

There’s a reason I’m blogging less often these days. I’ve been adjusting to a whole new family dynamic, and I just haven’t had the emotional energy to write very much. When we first moved into this house five years ago, Jesse had taken a new position at work. Around the same time, he had also had a wisdom tooth extracted. He also started to get headaches, at first once or twice a week, and then more frequently as time went on. For the last four years or so, he had non-stop headaches, fairly mild in the morning, then by afternoon and evening, unbearable. The absolute best he could feel was kind of OK, and that only with massive doses of narcotics. (For which I thank both the Lord and the doctor who was willing to prescribe them.)

Except for the stress of having to earn all of the money, which Jesse always managed somehow to do, I was living the life of a single mom. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that. Jesse and I have both written about it occasionally. We could not find the right combination of treatments, or even pinpoint the cause of the pain to a certainty. We’ve thought it might be:

  • environmental (new home)
  • environmental (new job)
  • TMJ (tooth extraction)
  • Blood pressure (it is a bit high)
  • Diet (My darling has a soda-pop and hot-pockets habit.)
  • A Job-like curse

He’s been to a neurologist, a chiropractor, a dentist specializing in TMJ, probably some other people I’ve forgotten about, and finally, he just gave up. I resigned myself to the crushing loneliness, and he resigned himself to the constant pain. Neither of us had much hope left of finding even the cause, much less a cure for the problem. But neither of us lost hope in the One who has redeemed us.

So we just kept going on like that. He popping pills and spending six days out of seven in bed when he wasn’t at work, and I learning to keep the rest of it going all by myself. I don’t want to make it sound all terrible and tragic, but…well, it was getting terrible and tragic! Nothing is lonelier than chronic pain. The rest of the world tends to forget about you after a while. (If you know someone who has chronic pain, please, please, visit them and pray with them. It means so much.) If Jesus hadn’t been always present, always making himself known in our lives through those small mercies he poured out in the form of prayers and encouragement from friends–many of whom are this blog’s readers, and THANK YOU!–I don’t think we’d have survived all of that with our sanity intact.

Want to hear something amazing? For the last few weeks, Jesse has had about one mild headache a week. The thing that changed? He got a promotion. That promotion means he is no longer sitting in a cubicle all day typing and geeking and doing whatever it was he was doing as a QA guy. He still has a desk, but he’s moving around more, and his new job as director of technical support involves talking. All day long, he talks to people. You wouldn’t think that would be such a big deal, but as it turns out, TMJ really was his problem. All this talking, moving around, and changing posture more often has kept the swelling in his jaw and the consequent muscle and head pain at bay for the last month! The only times he’s had headaches have been those days when he was at home and didn’t get enough activity to keep all of those muscles and joints working.

So that is why I haven’t blogged much. I thought it was because I was just uninspired, but really, I’ve been on cloud nine. I just haven’t had the desire to sit down and write much. I’m too busy getting used to being around the guy I’d come to think of as the ghost that slept in my bed. He’s ALIVE! Resurrections are kind of a big deal, don’t you think?

Praise God, people! I know that there was nothing much supernatural about Jesse’s pain (poor Job probably had an identifiable infection, too, with all those boils and stuff). And I know that the cure isn’t especially supernatural. But God HAS moved supernaturally, both during this long illness, and after it. He has provided for our family through a wonderful work family that understood and endured Jesse’s many sick days. God has helped Jesse through the long days of pain without giving up. Even through all the fog of medications and pain, Jesse developed a valuable new product for his company, and that product was a huge boost to his career.

You can’t tell me God wasn’t in that–in the strong work ethic that made Jesse keep trying when nobody would have blamed him for giving up, in the moments of relief that always came just when we really couldn’t take any more, in the hymns and verses that would arise unbidden in our minds during the darkest hours–God was always in it.

And now that things are getting easier, He is still here! The hardest thing for me to come to terms with in all of this good stuff happening is that I’m a little bit hand-shy. I keep waiting for somebody to say “Just kidding!” and yank the rug out from under us. Once you’ve resigned yourself to living without bitterness in rather bitter circumstances, it can be hard to suddenly realize that you might get to have a normal life after all. I’m not even sure how to describe it, except that the first few weeks of this were anxiety-ridden. Every day, I’d try to keep my hopes down so I wouldn’t be disappointed when Jesse walked through the door with another headache. But also, there was a fear in the back of my mind that I’d get too comfortable and forget how to lean on those Everlasting Arms in all of this cushy living.

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –C. S. Lewis

My husband is able to go to church and family gatherings with me. He can go shopping and take the trash, and play with the kids, and discipline them, and correct his headstrong, impulsive wife. He can do all of those husband and daddy things that I had just written off as not meant for this family. I confess, I haven’t been as joyful as I could be about it. It’s not that I’m not extremely happy, but there was an undercurrent of anxiety that I just couldn’t shake. In all this fun, I’ve been scared to death of losing sight of the One who has been my strength. That’s not a bad thing to be mindful of, really. The happy and the healthy do tend to lose sight of God more easily, having fewer reminders of their frailty. But I have to learn to trust, even now, that God has a plan to use my good times for His glory as well!

My circumstances have changed. That makes me nervous. Also, really giddy. But my God is not changing. He never will. When He shouted “Trust me!” back then, He was no more or less trustworthy than He is right this moment.

God is GOOD. All the time. Praise Him!

 

Impulsive

I always have been. That might be why I deleted my Facebook pages and stopped using Facebook FOREVAR!!1!! without really stopping to consider whether that was the best course of action.

Here’s the thing, though. I missed a whole bunch of people, including reader interactions, far more than I thought I would.

Here’s the other thing, though. I really was using Facebook too much. Like, way, way, too, too much. My family deserves my attention more than that.

So, in an attempt to make this thing manageable, I’m going to put Facebook on my daily schedule. That way, there will be set times I can be on there, and I can (hopefully) make myself stay off at all the other times. I had a nice, quiet break for a few weeks, but I am not able to permanently step away from Facebook. There are too many people who use it to keep friends up-to-date on their lives, and they shouldn’t have to go to any extra trouble just to keep up with me. I was getting tons of calls and text messages and emails, and that was awesome, but every single one of them contained a “miss you on Facebook” that made me feel like maybe I was being too stand-offish, not being there. Who am I to expect people to go out of their way to communicate with me, right? Facebook is just easier for most people these days.

I still hate Facebook. But I love the people on it, so I’m there. Look me up.

Go ahead and laugh at me. It’s funny. :-)