Archive for the ‘Growing Up’ category

Let Us Pray

October 27, 2014

I grew up bowing my head, eyes closed and hands clasped, to pray.  Over the course of my walk with God, however, I have gradually acknowledged that no part of that posture is necessary.  In history I learned that Stonewall Jackson prayed while riding his horse.  In my own pew, I observed my mother dealing with my youngest siblings before they were old enough to understand that “let’s pray” meant they needed to be quiet.  Neither of these situations allows for closed eyes or clasped hands.  In a war torn countryside, it’s doubtful that General Jackson kept his head bowed either.

I also learned that bowing in respect to Almighty God was more of a heart thing than a posture thing.  Have you parents ever had a child who sat when told, but you could tell they were still standing on the inside?  Have you ever been that child?  Well, sometimes we bow our heads, but our minds and hearts are so full of other things, that we might as well be walking out the door already.  Bowing your head ought really to be an outward sign of an inward reality, but instead, it has become a form, a traditional posture, that can be easily mimicked.  So posture is not the key to prayer.  But that doesn’t answer the original question.  Now jump forward to my late teens.

That’s when I met my Father God.

Sure, I already knew He was my father, but it wasn’t until my teens that I recognized something important.  I began to understand that God loves for His children to come gladly running to meet Him, whether in prayer, or devotions, or in going about His work.  My prayers became much more familiar, like I would talk to my earthly father.  And I began to look upward while praying.

You see, while I picture the Spirit as being inside me, and Jesus walking beside me, God the Father is in Heaven, so when talking to Him, I wanted to look toward Him, trusting like a little girl instead of hanging my head like a condemned sinner.  Yes, I still bow my head in reverence sometimes.  I also bow it in shame at others, but I am learning to bring everything to my Heavenly Father with confidence (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16; Romans 8:14-17).

So when I pray, and often while I listen to others pray, I look toward heaven.  I do tend to close my eyes, as that helps cut down on distraction, but looking up helps me remember that I am now a child of God, and He loves to involve His children in His work.  So I encourage you to step back and see if you bow your head simply because that’s what everyone does, or if you do it with a good reason.  I also encourage you that God is a Father who loves you, wants to hear from you, and wants to talk to you.  He desires fellowship, and I’ve always found that’s easiest with people if I look at them.  Why should fellowship with God be so different?  After all, He walked with Adam, didn’t He?

I look forward to the day when we walk with Him on golden streets, and can look Him in the eye.  What joy that uninterrupted fellowship will be!

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Waiting for Happily Ever After

January 10, 2014

I’m beginning to wonder if “happily ever after” doesn’t strike a discordant note with some children, since so many families do not have a happily ever after as I’ve described.  The parents do not stay together or if they do they fight.  On the other hand, those children may find their only ray of hope for their own future in the fact that stories and movies usually have a happily ever after, and in the few examples they can find in real life.  If someone can write about it, then happily ever after must be possible even if it doesn’t happen all the time.

Happily ever after is not something you find laying in the street.  It’s not something you can dig up with a treasure map.  It has to do with waiting for the right person to come along at the right time.  Many unhappily ever afters seem to be started with the wrong person or at the wrong time.  Sometimes people are in a hurry to get married because they think that will solve all their problems.  In those cases, they don’t always evaluate whether the person is a good fit, whether they have similar beliefs or hobbies, whether they like doing things with the person and whether it is the right time to get married.  Hence, sometimes couples find that their happily ever after dissolves quickly upon returning from the honeymoon, or even several years into their marriage, after the feelings of being “in love” have worn off.

I say this because I want to encourage any young readers who find my blog that it’s okay to wait for your happily ever after.  My mother met my father in college, and they were married just weeks after she graduated.  I had always hoped that would be my story too, because I didn’t want to have to go job hunting, and all that.  That’s not what God had in mind.

Although I also met my husband while I was in college, I wasn’t ready to think about marriage while carrying on with my studies, so we were just friends.  He was perfectly content to wait on God’s timing as well.  I had been out of college for 18 months and working for a year before he asked me to prayerfully consider whether God had marriage in mind for us.  I was nearly 24 at the time, and he was 28.

Because neither of us rushed into relationship with the first person we met, we were able to wait until God gave us the signal that it was the right time and the right person.  We have been blessed wonderfully these past five months, and we are very much in love.  Why do I think it will last?  Because we took the time beforehand to do our homework and make sure we saw each other clearly.  Because we were already very good friends, and enjoyed talking together, playing games together, and doing ministry together. But most importantly because we are both committed to God first, and then to each other.

You might find your happily ever after at 18, or it might be 28.  Whichever is God’s plan, are you prepared to wait for happiness?  Understand, people can make things work, even in less than ideal circumstances, and be “happy enough,” but the point is, are you willing to wait until God puts all the details in place?  Please don’t rush headlong into your future.  Just because the movies get to happily ever after in an hour or two, doesn’t mean you will, and you have a long ever after to think of.  Wait for the one you can see yourself spending the rest of your life beside.  Because that’s when you will live Happily Ever After.

Happily Ever After

January 9, 2014

As little girls playing with our dolls, my sister and I usually got to the part where the prince and princess get married, and then we ended the story.  Just like the movies – Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Robin Hood, even The Swan Princess – we got to happily ever after, and that was it.  We tried once or twice, but we didn’t think we knew what came next.

Of course, we knew that kids came next, because we saw enough young married couples around us, but we knew (or thought we knew) all about kids growing up (being a pair of them ourselves) and that wasn’t interesting enough to tell a story about.  At least, not in comparison with the part where two people met and fell in love.  Our heros and heroines were quite as talented and good as we could imagine, and sometimes they rescued each other or something, and sometimes they just met at church, which was plenty realistic, but we would get to the part where our two main characters married, and that was usually the end of it.

In a story where more than one marriage was involved, sometimes one couple got married early on, and then we had a hard time figuring out what to have them do except have a couple of kids.  Which sometimes seemed awkward, but it was all we knew.  Was that really all there was to happily ever after?

Fast forward fifteen years.  A few weeks ago, I reached the quarter century mark, and I’ve embarked on my “happily ever after” with Sir K.  So what really happens when the wedding bells stop ringing and the honeymoon is over?  Why do all the stories stop at the wedding?  One obvious reason is that the newlywed couple wants some privacy, but besides that, isn’t it boring until the next cycle of romance begins?

I can tell you this, my happily ever after is not boring!  Granted, I might still be treading clouds rather than terra firma, but I’m living a very real life.  I went back to work a week after the wedding, and so did Sir K.  There was dinner to get on the table, laundry and shopping, church activities and such.  We didn’t stop being ourselves just because we married each other.  We just had a new set of priorities.

That set of priorities has meant that I left my job to be a full time homemaker.  It has meant that Sir K has had to reevaluate some of his commitments.  We are in the process of building a new life together out of the things we were doing as single people plus perhaps some new things that we could only do together.

Happily ever after does not mean sitting around staring into each other’s eyes, although we certainly do that when the occasion arises.  Happily ever after means living with the person you love, doing things you love with or for them, and knowing that no matter how bad it seems elsewhere, there’s a home to come to and a spouse there who cares deeply about what affects you.  And we definitely have that in each other.

As children we didn’t really understand all that, which is perfectly all right.  A five or ten year old only knows that she wants to grow up to be like mommy and mommy got married, so that must be what she wants to do.   Children watch movies, read stories, and gather that happily ever after follows the wedding bells.  And then they have to figure out how to find their own Happily Ever After…

We Laughed Too

August 21, 2013

. . . I remember the moms of one or two kids, eyes like saucers as we passed them in the grocery store, asking one of two questions: 1 Are they all yours? 2 How do you do it? And Mom laughed. . . .

Phylicia’s post sounded some echos from my own past, so go have a read!

I remember those days, when my own mother would be shopping in the grocery store or the mall, five little munchkins trailing behind.  “Are they all yours” was a common question, at least until people were more distracted by “are they twins?”  The answer to both questions was yes, so at least that was easy…

My siblings and I span ten years from oldest (me) to youngest.  I know that helped a little, since some of us were able to be a significant amount of help when the last two came along.  I know I can’t fully appreciate all the work that went into raising five children, at least not yet, but I know that it was worth it!

We laughed too.  Some days it was little more than a smile, but we laughed.  We sang, we played games, we read books, and we laughed.

Phylicia is right, there is a joy and a peace that transcend circumstances, whether there are five kids, six kids, two kids, or none.  We can encourage it, or we can smother it, so look for the ways that God is blessing your family and point them out.  Rejoice in the family you’ve been given.

And build for the future.  Your future home, your children’s future homes, your future home in heaven.  Rejoice, for the Lord is come.

The Gift of Memory

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!  The holiday season is just about over, except for cleaning up the confetti and pine needles, which could take months.  In my house, the only thing left to do is take down the Christmas tree, which will happen today at some point.

Christmas may be over, but I will carry many memories away from this year’s celebration of Christ’s birth.  Some of the stories from this Christmas season are only the prologue to longer tales, and one of these is what I’d like to share with you now.

Remember not so long ago I wrote about the lunch conversations my siblings and I have so enjoyed?  Well, one of my gifts this year consisted of two letters, written by my mother, each sharing some of the wisdom she has previously shared verbally.  Along with these letters was a promise that she is going to add to the collection, sometimes writing to one child, sometimes to another, but we’ll each get a copy to add to our binders.

I can’t begin to express how special this gift was to me.  The memories it conjures up alone are priceless, and when you add in all the counsel the value of this gift skyrockets.  I usually get one gift that makes me so teary-eyed that I cannot speak, and the letters were it this year.

But that’s not the end of the story.

I was not the only one given such a gift.  My sister also got the gift of memories, only in different form.  She has already been dubbed the Family Historian and is the official keeper of the family newsletters, so this year, Mom began writing out the family stories.  Beginning with the story of how our family got started – how she met my dad.

We’ve heard the story before, but it’s special to have it written down in her voice, and we can share it with our own families someday.  Again, the idea is that Mom will continue to write the stories, and we will all get copies of them.  She seems to have found a topic for that book we keep joking that she should write when she retires from homeschooling . . .

And the story is still not done.

3G also got a gift that will be treasured by each of us.  My father has been teaching, whether in a Sunday School setting or a Bible study, for as long as I can remember.  More recently, he began a practice of writing out his notes so that he could share them with our college siblings while they’re away.  So what was 3G’s gift?

3G’s binder was the fullest of the bunch, because he got the first copy of Dad’s notes from the Kingdom books (Samuel through Chronicles).  Once more the idea is that we’ll get installments as the years go by, and we are all excited about this gift too.  By the time he gets done, we may have a whole commentary!

I feel like the cup that is running over with blessings.  With all that blessing, however, comes responsibility.  It doesn’t matter so much how much you’ve been given, but what you do with it.  All these blessings will not do me much good if I do not turn around and use them, and share them.

So, I’d like to leave you with a thought.  As you’re going forward in this new year, what memories of this Christmas will you take with you?  What lessons from childhood?  What teaching that God gave you last year?  How are you different from the person who began 2012?

May God richly bless us in the coming year, and may we learn to appreciate His blessings more fully with each passing day.

Happy New Year!

I Am a Homeschooler

October 16, 2012

Some would think that since I graduated five years ago and am not yet a full fledged 2nd generation homeschooler, I shouldn’t say that I am a homeschooler.  Many would have said “was homeschooled” instead.  Me, I stick with my “am.”

You see, homeschooling wasn’t just an educational option for us.  Homeschooling was and still is our lifestyle.  Although I am through formal schooling, including college which I did online from home, I still have a learning mentality and because I am still living at home, I am participating in homeschooling if only by being a reference for younger siblings.

Besides, I have every desire to become that 2nd generation homeschooler and bless my children with the same lifestyle that blessed me.  I realize that I’m not the only one with a say in that decision, but that’s beside the point.  God has fitted me to be a homeschooling mom in some very specific ways, and He knows exactly what He’s doing by preparing me for it, so I’m trusting to His timing for the rest.

I’ve often wondered where I would be if I had not been homeschooled.  People will ask, as one did recently, whether I felt that I missed out on things by being at home.  I first said no, and then qualified it – I did miss out, but only on things that I wanted to, such as peer pressure and bullying.  I got a wonderful education without all the negatives that the public school system has by virtue of sticking a whole bunch of kids the same age together and expecting one or two teachers to teach them what they need to know.  For that year.

Looking back over the years, I’m pretty sure that I would have foundered in the public school system.  I was a quiet, shy kid who enjoyed books, but who often had trouble talking about what she read.  I was the kid who took a little more time to work out mathematical things and would have been frustrated had not my mother given me the space to make mistakes and understand the concepts without always getting every problem correct the first time.  I was the kid who enjoyed drawing but wasn’t especially good at it as a child.  I was the kid who liked to learn about the way the world worked, but who wasn’t initially very scientific about it.  I was the kid who loved history, but who had a difficult time remembering all the dates involved.

Because my mom was able not only to take the time to work through difficulties, but also to tailor my studies to my personal interests in some places and my strengths in others, I ended up a very good student by the time I was in high school.  I fell in love with Algebra (which I still use every once in awhile, for those of you who think it’s not relevant to anybody not in the math or science realm).  I learned to express what I read in my own words as well as to express my own thoughts both in the written and spoken word.  I pursued drawing, acrylic painting, and several crafts which give me a wonderful release and are avenues for my creative juices (especially around Christmas time!).  I enjoyed Chemistry in highschool, which I never would have guessed, and I liked genetics well enough to take it as a course in college after fullfilling my science requirement with the Biology CLEP exam.  I eventually learned the essential dates through perserverance, but more importantly, I learned the grand sequence of history as well as the prominent characters within time periods, whereby gaining more from biography than I ever could from memorizing a list of dates.

I also overcame the shyness.  Mostly.  I have a feeling that in a public school setting, I would have been the mousy little girl who got picked on, while my studies would have suffered from that and from not being able to ask the questions I needed answered in order to thrive.  I probably would also have picked up a few bad habits from the other children.  You rarely learn how to grow up from your peers – you learn that from those older than yourself by several years or from adults.

All of this is why I am a homeschooler.

Climbing Tree

August 4, 2012

When we moved twelve years ago, Mom and Dad asked 3G, Sister, and me if we had any requests for the new house.  We were not old enough to be involved in the decision making, but they wanted the new home to be reflective of what we wanted to some extent.  After all, we were going to live there too!

The biggest thing on our wishlist was a climbing tree.  While our old house had three trees, none of them had low branches for climbing.  We had to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to climb their tree.  That was fun, but we hoped that we could have a tree of our own that could be climbed on a whim, not just the couple of times a year we went to visit the grandparents instead of them coming to see us.

When God finally led us to our new home, three happy campers were glad to see that the spacious front lawn was home to a beautiful tree – a very climbable maple!  If that tree had had paint on its branches, we would have worn it off the first summer, and we didn’t move in until July.  We loved climbing around, making up stories.  That tree was our ship, fort, and jungle gym all rolled into one.

Some of my favorite memories of the tree, however, are of the times during my mid-teens when I would wander out alone and climb to the top just for the view.  Everything looks a little different from the top of a tree.  Sometimes I would sit on a particular branch and look in one direction as I chewed over some internal issue.  At other times, I would stand on another branch and watch the cars go by on our road or the haying in the field across the way.  Whatever the case, that tree has plenty of memories.

I haven’t done much tree climbing in several years now.  Some of the branches are showing wear from five pairs of feet climbing in it.  New growth has filled in some of the places we used to climb in and out, while patches have taken some damage over the years.  Still, every once in a while, I get the urge for a higher perspective on the world, and I’ll swing up among the leaves and the breezes to see what I can see.


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