Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ashes


Maybe you've been watching the news. Maybe you know that Twenty-one Coptic Christians were executed last week for being "people of the cross".  Maybe you have wept hot tears for these who were martyred for the sake of the Cross, martyred for their Faith in the one true God, and hugged your children a little tighter. Their deaths grieve me and force open my eyes to see the world, lost and dying and boiling, the way things really exist.

In Biblical times, ashes were used to express grief.

When Tamar was raped...
2 Samuel 13:19
But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying.

When Jerusalem would be left desolate....
Daniel 9:3
So I turn to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also were rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes.

When persecution and death threatened.....
Esther 4:1
When Mordecai learned about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail.

Ashes let us grieve, and express our grief, before the Lord. As terrifying as the news can be these days, we can still come before the Lord and relinquish our fears, weep, mourn, and rest heavy in His arms.

Once my initial grief has subsided, and I reflect on these 21 men dying for their faith, I am humbled.
I look around and realize that I live in a world much different and far removed from their struggle. My greatest concern this week was the weather; and I am ashamed.  I am ashamed that I have taken for granted the luxurious blessings of this life. All this unmerited, undeserved grace all around me, and I miss seeing it every day. A warm home – that's Grace. Time with my family – that's Grace. Healthy kids – that's Grace. Enough food to eat – that's Grace. A life free from the fear of being kidnapped and executed – that's Grace.  When I add up this Grace,  overwhelming Grace, I see privilege denied much of the world.

So many of us take for granted all of these blessings, and choose to live in a world that ignores the persecution of the Church. A culture that fights and scratches and claws over the insignificant and defines our American "let's go eat a chicken sandwich" protests as persecution. Have we forgotten true persecution? The persecution of spilled blood and terrifying threats from masked men on a beach? The kind of persecution that defines us, and emboldens us to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ? In a word, yes.  We have forgotten about our brothers and sisters around the world. We have forgotten to pray for them, to support them, to reach out to them. While we were busy with luncheons  and building campaigns and chicken sandwiches, we forgot about people around the world fleeing for their lives before an unholy army that would murder them and their children because they claim the Cross of Christ. Moreover, we've forgotten the Gospel. We have forgotten the suffering of Christ. We have forgotten that He suffered for us. And then forgetting we have become shallow, whitewashed tomb people who quote cliché, feel good sayings, and follow a doctrine of prosperity and self interest.

Job 42:1-6
Then Job replied to the Lord:
"I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."
"You said; 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

So today, even though Ash Wednesday is not a day that we have ever recognized, we will be attending an Ash Wednesday service this evening. And on our brow we will be marked with ashes and the symbol of the cross, as "people of the cross", showing our grief, our repentance, and our solidarity with those who have been martyred for the sake of Christ.

And still, this seems a cheap and easy reprieve. I'm not sure what the next 40 days will bring, but I'm sure that it will bring change in our lives. We can no longer live as those who have forgotten their brothers and sisters. Father forgive us, Cover us in the blood of Jesus, we are unworthy of these men and their sacrifice.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

'Veteran' Homeschooling Moms

Deep in conversation her name is mentioned with awe and respect.  She's the 'Veteran Homeschool Mom'  I feel like I'm back in middle school looking at the cool kids across the cafeteria, sigh... 

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not consider myself a 'Veteran Homeschool Mom'. 

PE class at my house may or may not consist of ' go outside'. 
My kids have not always used vitamins, supplements, essential oils, and we do not grow all of our own food or bake all of our own bread.
We don't eat all organic, crunchy, gluten free all the time. The only real reason that my family eats healthy AT ALL is that my 13 year old SON cooks dinner more often than I do - and has recently traded recipes with some of the moms at co-op. (I am so embarrassed).
I have made mistakes, I have raised my voice, lost my cool, been a 'smother', and actually threw a computer once (it was really more of a forceful drop). 
I didn't start homeschooling my kids until AFTER I put them in the public schools and witnessed the damage. I have believed lies cunningly told by school officials and then later been super embarrassed (and angry) when I realized my error.
I have gotten suckered into 'but this is the best curriculum ever...' sales pitches.  I hate, Hate, HATE lesson planning!  I don't design and organize my own curriculum from scratch.  I don't even like unit studies (gasp!) and I once spent $200 on a unit study curriculum under duress (hubby liked it, there was a sales pitch involved!) which I gave to another family a year later without even opening the book!


What I do know is that I have found and been utterly blessed by some trusted homeschool mentors who I call whenever I need some help in one area or another.  I have been homeschooling for 9 years, I have 2 kids in high school, I lead a wonderful, messy, beautiful co-op with some of my closest friends, yet even I am really not a homeschool veteran.

Here's why...

Being a homeschool veteran means a few things in my book.

1.) She may not always have it all together, but she did homeschool a child, from kindergarten through high school and that person has graduated and become a functioning adult.  Maybe they went to college, maybe not, but this adult she helped create can read and write and hold a job and dress themselves in the mornings and have 'normal' conversations with people.

2.) She's nice.  The veteran homeschool mom knows how to be in community with other people.  She understands when your hair is standing on end and you have baby vomit on your pant leg.  She is approachable and understanding. In fact, odds are she will approach you. She hands you a tissue when you are crying and a cup of coffee when you need an ear, not because she's selling curriculum or trying to change your homeschool style, but because she's been there and she understands.

3.) She has standards without being judgmental. She understands that being a 'homeschool veteran' doesn't make her better than you, and she remembers the difficult days and encourages you through them.  At the same time, she didn't forsake her calling, and she isn't going to advise you to quit or give up or let someone else handle your children for a while because you're having a hard time. She knows that path leads to destruction! She may however, give you a firm kick in the rear if you need it!

4.) She may not have all the answers, but she knows where to find them. The VHM knows a LOT about homeschooling.  But she also understands that she doesn't know EVERYTHING about every homeschooling situation and she is completely willing to refer you to the right resources if she doesn't have the answers. Maybe you have a child with special needs, or a husband who travels for a living, or are a single mom - and she isn't.  She won't pretend to know what it's like to walk in your shoes and try to give advice because she likes the sound of her own voice. She will give you a link to a support group, or the number of one of her friends/mentors for encouragement.


 Knowing some AMAZING homeschool veterans,  and listening to their wisdom and advice, has been invaluable to me as a homeschooling mom.  If you homeschool, I encourage you to find a homeschooling veteran mom, and/or be open to the opportunity of mentoring if she should approach you.

And to my dear friends Tami, Cherie, and Peggy - Veteran Homeschooling Moms Extraordinaire - THANK YOU for all of your love and guidance, I don't know where I would be without you!

Katie took us to the zoo today.  So I took us to lunch after.  We decided to try Noodle & company.  When we were headed in the door a lady handed us a coupon that she couldn't use.  It said something about sharing lunch for 4 people.  I figured we would order our bowls and share this other bowl.  The guy at the register said it would cover whatever we wanted to order up to $50!  We ordered large portions (extra to take home), drinks, and still didn't spend $6.   Thank you Katie for a special day!   Thank you Lord for a generous and free lunch!Lunch with my boy!






































 
Blessings,
Amanda