Wednesday, May 2, 2018

God is FOR YOU, the same as yesterday!

We go to look at a truck. We have been looking at trucks, everywhere we go we are disappointed. Too old, rusty, overpriced, broke down - we aren't finding any good trucks, and when we do - they are soooo expensive that we can't even consider them. This truck is so nice, much nicer than others we have seen. We are certain we can not afford this truck, that there is no way anyone would sell us this truck. We LOVE the truck, and need a truck. Yet, we ask. "Father, if this is your will - throw the door WIDE OPEN, don't let us miss it. But if this is NOT your will, slam that door so hard and so fast that we won't miss that either!"
We test drive said truck, talk to dealer, spend maybe 45 minutes or so at the dealership and then leave with the understanding that if the lady there can work it out on the terms we could afford she will call us and let us know, and if not that is OK too. About 20 minutes later she calls, they will take our malfunctioning car in trade, they will reduce the price of the truck, they have financing on our terms, come back and sign the papers and we are good to go. (AKA - Door wide open)
Fast Forward 12 days - 
Discovering water on your finished basement floor is not a great way to start the week!
Our hot water heater, which is only a few years old, sprung a leak not only removing hot water from our faucets but leaving said water on the floor of the finished basement.... We realized this on a Sunday evening at about 8pm. Off to the Walmart to purchase a carpet cleaner to try to suck out the water we could.
Monday, I am not even fully awake yet, and I get a call from the middle child, The new truck is broken down on the side of the highway, the NEW TRUCK that we have had for only 12 days! 
I call the dealer, call the insurance agent because the truck is so new to us we don't have the official paperwork yet for the insurance coverage. Roadside assistance will tow the truck, but not the trailer. Kid starts calling to get help with trailer. I take 5 minutes to post on Facebook that we need prayers.  
Dealer calls back and says have it towed to them they will look it over. Kid calls, says another friend will tow his trailer and bring him home.  
Then I make it downstairs and realize that this water mess is much larger than I thought. I call the other insurance to ask about coverage, they say no coverage for this. I call a plumber and they can be out by about 4pm, which is amazing considering it's almost noon.  
Husband comes home -his engine in his truck (the old truck) is misfiring. I can hear it from far down the road.

So when the truck breaks down 12 days later I have a choice - I can say 
"Darn truck! I knew that deal was too good to be true! Lousy rotten sales people!" When the heater goes out I can throw a fit and complain, cry and be angry, especially at the insurance company and when even the old truck is misfiring I can be angry at God. "Why did you let all this happen to me!"
or I can say 
"Lord, you led us to that new truck, you threw that door wide open, there is no way that I asked you for a fish and you gave me a snake. I will call the dealer and be kind and calm, this will be ok." and I can look at bigger things, other things and I can say "The Lord is good to me, He always takes care of me, this time is no different." and rather than scream and yell and curse the sky, I can pray for wisdom and peace and the graciousness to handle whatever is thrown at me today.

I heard someone recently teach that God's people in the Old Testament times were "physically blessed" and that people now are just "Spiritually Blessed"...
I have to wonder if God just shakes His head at such comments... this persons assertion is that God doesn't physically bless people in the modern age... look around!
Did you have to weave your clothing? Did you have to hunt your food? Did you have to fight a Philistine? You are physically blessed beyond measure, beyond what anyone thousands of years ago could have even imagined. Beyond the general blessings that most of the modern world gets to enjoy, I am also personally blessed, cared for, and provided for beyond what I can ask or imagine.
God DOES bless his people, miraculously, even today.

My water heater was replaced the next day, at no cost.
The new truck was repaired the same day, within hours, at no cost.
The old truck was repaired the same day, within hours, at no cost.

Not only that - but God uses HIS PEOPLE to pour out his blessings.
Christina and Coleen listened and helped just by listening =) They were kind and calm and encouraging.
Jon came and picked up my son from the side of the road and brought him and his trailer home.
Coleen came and brought me two shop vacs so I could get my basement in order.
Dave came out and consulted on the water heater, gave Drason some basic instruction on installing a new one, and even helped with the company so that it was replaced under warranty.
Andrew diagnosed and repaired the old truck with parts from the old engine.
Marshal took the old water heater back and picked up the new one and delivered it home.

These may seem like small things, it may seem less than miraculous but consider how much these things could have cost. The new truck could have cost thousands to repair (it's a diesel) or even to diagnose. Most diesel mechanics charge at least $70-$100 per hour - it took 4 hours to diagnose and repair. A water heater is about $500, installation of a new one and removal of the old one are about the same - so another $500. Diagnosing and repairing an engine misfire - at least a few hundred dollars, not including parts!
God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He isn't there to trick us, there isn't one God of the Old Testament and one God of the New Testament - He is the SAME GOD! No, things don't always look the same, but He is the same. He does bless us, He uses his anointed ones to pour out the blessings.

There is so much here that I want to unpack for you but it would take more time and writing that I could spare today - so instead I will bullet point it out for you....

1. Prayer before big decisions gives peace and keeps you from shipwrecked faith - imagine moving forward without prayer and assurance on that large purchase - it puts you on shaky ground.
2. You choose who you serve today - will you serve the Lord? If so, then TRUST him. He says over and over that He has good planned for you, He is worthy of your trust!
3. You have the power to build up your home or to destroy it with your words and actions (which stem from your thoughts and feelings) Take captive every thought and don't let them run wild. Did the thought that the truck was sold to me was a lemon cross my mind - for a second the devil whispered that thought - which was immediately captured and dismissed - NO- God is for me, this will be OK!
4. Your kids are watching, they will see - do you trust God or do you freak out? I just had a conversation with the Middle child THE DAY BEFORE THIS HAPPENED about trusting that God has good planned for you - worry is from the enemy.
5. YOU can be the blessing that makes someone else's day more bearable -YOU are the hands and feet of Christ - USE THEM!

Thank you God for turning my bad day into a blessing! Thank you for strengthening and equipping me to combat the fiery darts of the devil and to stand, thank you for making me stand and sending your people to help me stand.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Homeschooling in not abuse

There is a terrible story in the news.  Two parents in California abused, shackled, tormented, and neglected their 13 children, who seem to have been forgotten by society.  This is one of the most disturbing cases of child abuse I have ever heard of, it is sickening, it is evil. 

The news media has classified this family as a "homeschooling" family.  Lets be very clear - this is not a homeschooling family.  The father in this family registered his home as a private school - he lied, these kids were not in a private school. They received no education, there was no private school. Just because they were kept home, does not mean they were homeschooling - they were truant.  This abuser found a loophole in a law so that he could continue to abuse.  Just to be very clear, I completely condemn the actions of this man and woman and hope they receive the full penalty for their heinous crimes against their own children.

This post isn't actually about abuse, because abuse is always wrong and that is the end of the story. This post is about a media narrative and a growing suspicion of loving and kind homeschooling families.

In 2016 California passed a law that all students in public schools had to be 100% compliant with vaccines, and this would be checked in Kindergarten and 7th grade.  Medical exemptions tripled. So they added that any doctor giving a medical exemption could have their practice investigated and if a third party found that exemption in error, they would no longer be eligible for insurance payments (basically their practice would be ruined)  Medical waivers became so very rare that even children that maybe should have them were denied because doctors didn't want to bet their livelihood on the third party decision. As a result, 15,000 students withdrew from the public schools in order to home educate.

Multiply that 15,000 by the average $10,600 that schools receive per student (some based on property taxes, some state delegated funds, some federal aid) And that is a whopping 159 Million dollars out of the system. While public schools still get some of those funds, 10% is federal aid - that is gone.  The mix of local and state aid varies so much it can literally change district to district, between 40% and 80% of those funds (depending on district) are also gone - the state won't fund a child who isn't there. This puts local districts in more of a pinch, because they were counting on those students, now the students aren't there, so the funds aren't there, so they literally have to look at laying off staff. 

This is a long rabbit trail away from abuse, but it might help you understand why this story has been in the news every day for two weeks, especially in California, and why so many politicians are proposing additional rules for homeschooling families.

In the past two weeks I have received multiple messages from homeschooling families who have been contacted by relatives or friends and pressured to place their children back in public school because they believe homeschooling is "educational neglect" or "abusive" or "creates an environment for abuse and isolation" and frankly, this is offensive.

Legally homeschooled students are 40% less likely to die by child abuse or neglect than the average student nationally.

1 in 10 public school students are abused AT public school, often by the very people charged to protect and educate them.

But don't take my word for it - check out the National Home Education Research Institute's article here 

I think this quote from the article easily sums up my personal feelings about these types of suggestions -
"Wexler, the executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform and a self-identified liberal, in his article “Protect homeschooled children from child savers,” put it this way: “Why are homeschoolers a special target of 21st century child savers?  Because we liberals tend to stereotype them …” 
“Further, Wexler explained many of the unintended damages that mandatory homeschool home visits and interviews of children would inflict on children. For example, children react, even to temporary infringement of parental autonomy, with changes such as “… anxiety, diminishing trust, loosening of emotional ties, or an increasing tendency to be out of control.”
But this doesn't stop the well-meaning friend or family member from expressing their disapproval of your educational choice.  A simple google search could  yield everything they would ever desire to know about homeschooling, abuse rates among homeschooling families, and much more.

On an article posted in the Newark Advocate regarding the California abuse case (posted 1/25/18) several comments disparaged homeschooling families as abusive, secluded weirdos.  One woman stated that she planned to call CPS on her homeschooling neighbors because she didn't like that the children were playing outside during the day and that the family used a wood burner and electric heaters to heat their home, and had their gas turned off at the meter. 

No one wants to be Chicken Little here, but there are some rumblings of possible change and a time of possible backlash towards families who choose alternative means to educate their children.  Just this week the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) hosted a Facebook Live video discussing the closure of an online school and the actions of the Ohio Dept. of Ed. (here)  For those familiar with HSLDA, you understand that they do not consider online public schools to be homeschooling. I have never seen them engage in a conversation about the closure of an online public school, but I understand why they would in this case seeing as the Dept. of Ed. essentially made up rules and applied them retroactively to all online schools.  Another key similarity is the school funding issue, where the state of Ohio is seeking 60 million in reimbursement based on their retroactive attendance tracking rules.  Untangling the media "facts" on this closure is difficult, but everyone can agree this is a case of public schools trying to reclaim funding.

So what can I, the average homeschooling mom, do to protect my children, to educate my friends and neighbors, and to ensure that homeschooling is still an accepted method of education?

1 - Join the HSLDA - They are there if trouble ever comes knocking.  I can call and get immediate representation, I can also know that my membership pays for lobbyist at the state and federal level who continuously promote and represent my desire to homeschool my children.

2 - Get to know my neighbors and be open with my friends and family.  The fact is as a homeschooling mom I have NOTHING to hide.  No, it isn't their business, but raising a wall and cutting off friends and family only raises suspicions.

3 - Know what to do if a social worker shows up at the door.  The fact is that no matter how open and loving I am with my friends and neighbors, that won't stop a nosy old lady at the grocery from writing down my licences plate and calling the police because my kids aren't in school on a Tuesday morning.

4. Find local, in real life, support.  Yes, the internet is a wonderful invention but having a number of families who know you and your children through the library or your church or even a local homeschool group will benefit you greatly if there ever are false accusations made about your home.

5.Trust God. This is last because it is the most important thing, and I want you to remember it.  Many homeschooling families fully believe that the Lord called them to home educate.  God doesn't call us to impossible tasks, but rather He equips those He calls. Trust that His call to homeschooling isn't swayed by popular opinion or your less than supportive mother in law.

Wishing you many blessing on your homeschooling journey!