A day in the life of home school freaks

I've been a totally boring blogger.  I go through phases and right now I feel like I have nothing much to write about.  Just my same old life. I've probably said everything that's possible to say over the last 3 years.  I never really have a shortage of  new stuff on my mind or things I'm learning, but I am lacking time and ambition to write them down or come up with entertainingly readable posts.  I assume that my predictably unspectacular life will bore you to tears anyway.    

It occurred to me recently, as I was flipping through some of my favorite blogs, the reason I enjoy them is because they are such ordinary people (although sometimes doing things out of the ordinary).   I enjoy having glimpses into other family's lives, their priorities, their routines, and their parenting struggles and wisdom.  I always glean some little bit of encouragement or even some ideas that I can use in my own day.  

I decided to follow my kids around for a day and give you a glimpse of a 'typical' day.   Whatever typical is.  This happened to be a day that we were home all day and nothing totally random came up.  This past week we have entered our winter season on the farm.  There are some things that I really enjoy about this post harvest season.  My Hubster is around a little later in the mornings affording us some extra family time.   He also comes home now  for lunch and is home earlier for supper.  Now that the field work is wrapped up we also have our evenings together (translates into help putting kids to bed).    For me, the garden and yard work has finished and my day is focused more inside the house...mainly feeding little bodies and minds. 

So here is a little glimpse into the life of one of those freaky homeschool families.

I'll start off by saying that we don't run by a schedule (I've tried).   We don't have written in stone chore lists, or highly structured curriculum.   Everyday looks a little different but we manage to get it all done...usually.   We all start trickling out of bed anywhere from about 6.30-8.00.   Once breakfast is finished (around 8-8:30).  The kids do "get ready for the day"...get dressed, make beds, brush teeth, brush hair  and a few little jobs like gathering the laundry into the laundry room.  

I set the two youngest up with Play-doh (which also happens to suppliment Cece's breakfast) or some other pre-schoolish activity while Dad does Bible reading with the big kids.   We have discovered that trying to do this as a whole group only leads to frustration. We don't have a Bible curriculum, study or workbooks, not because I have something against them, but because I prefer simple.  Sometimes we use a devotional book but right now they are working through books of the Bible.   Straight to the source.  They read a few chapters and then discuss and ask questions.   Silas has his own little "Bible time" at bedtime with his "Jesus story book Bible".    

We don't approach our Bible time as a necessary religious ritual to get over with.  We don't read it as a book of moralistic fables of heroes and bad guys, or simply a book of rules to live a better life.  We really want our children to have a knowledge of what the Bible is, what it says, and why.  Ultimately we want them to desire God and to know Him for who He is revealed to be.  We love to discuss God's sovereignty and how he  used (and still does) ordinary, flawed, sin ridden people for his grace infused redemption plan.  We point to the Supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things and throughout the entirety of God's story...all of scripture points to Him.   The questions these kids ask astonish me sometimes!  It has led me into a much deeper quest and study of theology myself...just so I have answers that aren't trite or cliche. 

Once that's finished the husband goes out to do some farm work.
The rest of us start our "school" day.
Silas (4) does some pre-school/ kindergarten type work on a casual basis.  Meaning when he wants to and I have the time and ambition to work with him.  He usually enjoys doing book work, unlike his big brother!

Aili (grade 5) does both Math  and Science on the computer this year.  It makes a lot less marking work for me to do.   She is using "Switched on Schoolhouse" program.  It's pretty impressive.  I have a whole "school" set up on my teacher page and can track her progress and plan our calender.  It teaches the material and automatically assigns work to do each day.  This helps alleviate the "I did enough" syndrome.  Right now we're working through plant and animal biology/ cells in Science and today's lesson in math was 'adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators and then simplifying the answer into mixed numbers. '.  One benefit of homeschooling is I'm learning all this stuff over again...and I must say it's much easier the second time around.

The biggest challenge is keeping everyone on task and the little ones from climbing all over the students. 
Sometimes if I need some uninterrupted time teaching one specific child  I request that the other "big kid" take a break from book work and babysit/ play with the little ones somewhere else.  
They are definitely learning to be part of a team being at home all day.  They do what's helpful to the family on a whole, which is not always what they naturally feel like doing.  

Some rough housing puppy play with little sister.  She's loves time with big brother!
Last week my Hubster bought an ipad.   We don't typically have a lot of newest and latest gadgets around here (our tv screen is as curved as is gets) but a Harvest bonus combined with some convincing arguments on his part (and conceding of my own thrifty objections) equals we have a fancy new addition to our educational program (it's also going to be great to have during our 35 hour car ride to Mexico!)  I'm loving App store!  I dare say it has won me over....although the kids are slightly obsessed with it right now.  

{Silas tracing letters}

As long as they're learning , I don't care if they are using a pencil and a book or a high tech alternative.
Roman (grade 3) is using Christian Light curriculum for math.   We tried "Switched on School house" for the first month but it wasn't working (I'll save it for the next 3rd grader).  It was too hard to modify.  With the work book curriculum we can skip through very quickly, do most of it orally, and every lesson combines a bunch of different things (one lesson will have multiplication, clocks, fractions, measuring and geometry) so it keeps things from getting too tedious.  He is a whiz at math concepts but simple repetitive drills are like a drill to the teeth for him.  We skip the speed drills at the back of the book.   Kids with ADHD don't do well with those!  Give him some complex problem to figure out and he's happy as a clam.  I've learned to have patience with his meandering, somewhat time consuming, unconventional way of getting to his answers.  The results usually astonish me.

Keeping little monkey off the table.  Time for lock down in the high chair.

Break time.   All 4 kids run off to a bedroom to play.   I do some laundry.

It's amazing what a container of dollar store sea creatures can do.  Two days worth of quality playtime.

Time for a mid morning snack (baked the night before).  2 Cranberry banana loaves were gone in less than 24 hours.  They were that yummy!  I found the recipe in "Companies Coming" muffins cook book (of course I switched up ingredients with healthier ones).  It used up a bag of frozen cranberries run through my food processor and a bunch of almost dead bananas.  

Piano practice.  Aili and Roman have started their second year of lessons.  Aili is really enjoying it this year and it seems to have "clicked" for both of them.   One benefit of home education is that we can incoporate music lessons and practice time into our "school" days instead of squeezing them into after school hours.  Music is a part of their education. 

Goofy girl.

While Aili practices piano Roman practices multiplication on the ipad with "Math Ninja".   Look he's even sitting at a real old fashioned school desk.  Kind of ironic that the computer is the same size as an old slate board. 

Keeping all the question answered, helping kids learn new music, explaining new concepts, changing diapers, and keeping the little ones entertained keeps a girl on her toes!
Not much time for housework.  I've learned to just leave it.  It will get done eventually.

Silas spends the rest of the morning wrapping up action figures into napkins and tape.  Why?
I have no idea...and I don't so much care as long as he's found something to do.

Dad comes home for lunch and some general tom foolery.

Which leads to good natured but loud wrestle mania on my living room floor...which leads to me yelling
"Take it outside!"

Which leads to little brother being flipped off the trampoline while a stunned and remorseful older brother moans "I didn't know we were close to the edge".  
Once the wailing commences I serve up lunch.  Typically something quick and easy to whip up.   Today's menu: Vegi and cheese Omelettes with a side of toast and peppers.  

And for allergy boy cheese toast instead of eggs.

After lunch is "QUIET TIME!"
Cece goes to bed. 
"Silas, you can take your bin of toys downstairs to play."
"Roman, here is your helmet, please go for a bike ride".

Aili and her Dad play a quick word game while I start folding baskets of laundry.

The Hubster goes back to digging holes with a Back-hoe tractor.
Aili puts together a map of states and provinces while I make a cup of coffee and watch.

After the puzzle we pull out the language arts workbook.  With the boys outside building tree forts and baby sister sleeping it's a good time to get some book work done.  She is doing Alpha Omega lifepac for L.A.

With the house quiet and Aili working independently I go shower. My alone time of the day.  
Yes, that is blog worthy.  
As you can see, I am looking particularly glamorous in my baggy sweats.

The toddler wakes up.
I do some  sight word practice with Roman.
I break up another wrestling match.
I spend some time with a whining little girl who needs some attention.
We all put the laundry away.
The kids watch tv.
I make supper.
The kids clean up all the toys and vacuum before the Dad comes home.

Still eating our garden wares with  scalloped potatoes (and ham), tomatoes and spaghetti squash.  Simple to make, virtually free, and the kids gobbled it up.  I'm a lazy cook.

After supper the big kids do dishes,  I go bath a couple little kids.   
Daddy reads to Silas and puts him to bed.   I rock a baby girl and put her to bed.

I curl up to read with Roman.  This constitutes a majority of his non formal education.   We usually dive in once the little kids go to bed at 7pm or during "quiet time".  

 The only formal curriculum/ book work he has is for math.  We have worked through several reading/ phonics curriculum and books but have yet to find anything that clicks for a phonetically challenged reader.  If anyone has any ideas please let me know.  As of now we are piecing together word building practice from a variety of sources.  I know he will learn to read eventually...it will just be learned in a different way.   Until then we fill in the "language arts" gap with classic novels and read aloud time.  It feeds his wild imagination, literary knowledge, extensive vocabulary, and big picture way of learning.  It may look different than a backpack, school desk and text book...but he's learning and most of the time he doesn't even know he's doing "school".  He's just satisfying his natural curiosity with knowledge
... and I suspect that's what God had in mind when he designed us to learn..regardless of where or how it's done.    

Once the big kids go to bed, I curl up with my computer next to my husband curled up in front of his tv.  We're romantic that way.
Sometimes, if I have any energy left over I use the childless time to bake or do other housework that gets de-prioiritized while spending our days teaching/ learning.  

I think one of the biggest challenges I have with our family integrated home education is the never ending, always just below the surface, self doubt and fear that all our efforts won't be enough that they'll miss something essential.   Growing up with very little exposure to alternative educational systems and philosophies I still have a hard time thinking outside the institutionalized education box.  I struggle to find the balance between a relaxed non formal educational philosophy and striving to recreate "school" at home. Most days I'm my own worst enemy.   I suppose that will come with time and confidence.  We'll take it one year at a time, one child at a time, and trust that God is big enough to take my feeble efforts and turn them into something.  


We're leaving for Mexico in a month!

I must start by apologizing for leading you on with my last post.   Even my own mother assumed I was reffering to some exciting news about our adoption.   Sorry to disappoint.   Still no movement on the adoption front.  Nothing to report.  Nada.

However, we do have a nice distraction from the fact that we are still lost in adoption land.  We are going back to Mexico!!   After a year and half of longing, working, trying, praying, knocking...we are finally headed back.   It will be a very different sort of Christmas for our crew this year.

This trip will be quite a bit different than our past adventures in Mexico.
For starters we are only able to stay for 1 month instead of 6 months.  6 weeks is the longest that we are allowed to leave the Canada with a foster child.   We now have all the permission letters needed to take Cece and get a passport for her...which should be arriving in the mail any day.

Another major difference from past trips is that we aren't returning to work at the same orphanage that we have been visiting/ working with on and off for the past 11 years.  The door was unexpectedly closed which led to my writing this recent post.  We have mixed feelings about that but are very excited for the new adventure that lies ahead of us.  We will be going to the same area so our plan is to stop by the orphanage to visit the kids we have grown to love, as well as let our own children reminisce a little.   Our children's
  "ice cream for orphans" fund has been changed to "Burlando kid's compassion fund" because only orphanage staff can take the kids off of orphanage grounds which would be necessary to take them all out for icecream.   They have $200 raised and saved so far.  The only guideline is that it must be used to show love, encourage, or meet needs of someone.  The other guideline we gave them is that they need to give prayerfully,wisely and with a sensitive spirit.   It will be interesting to witness how the Holy Spirit moves in their little hearts and leads them into action.

{Our sponsor kids at the orphanage..can't wait to see them again}

This change in our hopes and plans has  been an excellent chance for the kids to stretch their coping with disappointment/ change muscles (ours as well!).  We have had a lot of long talks with them, shed a few tears, and worked through to a simple sense of peace about it all.    God is faithful!

After only a few weeks of everything being 'up in the air' again other options and opportunities starting coming up.   After much consideration and prayer our trip has become a 'fee-lance family adventure vacation' to Baja.  We are just stepping out, going, and trusting that ultimately God will be glorified even in our adventure vacation.

 I prefer not to refer to it as a "mission trip" for a lot of reasons but the main one is that it suggests that we have to go somewhere to be on mission.   Our whole lives should be focused on His purposes, His kingdom, and living out the gospel in any and every situation and location God has us in.   This  isn't a go pet the poor, do our good deed for the year kind of trip, we aren't anyone's messiah,...we go as students and servants.  It's about God's calling on our lives, allowing Him to stretch and deepen our faith,  learning how to live out a sacrificial gospel, and getting our hands dirty serving people that we love.  A large motivation for this trip is also how it impacts and shapes our children's world view...and their God view.

 We are renting a furnished house that another ministry owns and will be doing some volunteer work with that Ministry.  For the first time we won't be living in and travelling with a trailer to Mexico.   God has provided above and beyond what we had expected.  We pouted and cried over what we had lost...literally...all the while He had something so much better just around the corner.   We will be working along side some good friends of ours.  Friends that we met as fellow orphanage staff in 2009/2010. I wrote about the time they came to visit us in Canada here.   They now work with different ministry and we are excited to experience a little sampling of the new work they are doing.  You can follow this family's blog here  "Because love is a lifestyle".  I am muy muy thrilled that we will be neighbors, and hopefully helpers, to this family!  

{ The kids who call me Tia (Auntie)}

We will also use this month to spend time with "The kids that call me Tia" , catch up with friends we've made over the years, visit other ministries, eat at a LOT of taco stands, and volunteer where we can.  We will just be hanging out, living, loving, giving, and open to whatever and whoever God brings across our path during those 6 weeks.  It will be new for us to have total freedom as a family to go and do what we feel led to do, and to be able to work together as a family while we're down there.

 Now that we have a location, housing, and Cece's passport all lined up we feel that we can actually start to get excited about our trip.  It looks like it will happen!   We are excited to see how God stretches, grows and uses us during that time.   We really have NO idea what to expect or what we will be doing.   It's going to be an adventure for sure!

I've already started packing and planning.  My mental packing went from packing up a trailer to suitcases stuffed into an SUV already full of kids.    We will be packing light.   Only the essentials.   I'm glad we at least have a rooftop carrier.  I'm a little nervous about over 30 hours of driving with a 1 year old...who doesn't love to travel and about sleeping in hotels along the way....with a 1 year old who doesn't like to sleep in new places.   It will be interesting I'm sure.

I have no idea if we'll have internet available while we're away, but I would love to take you all on the trip with us and document our adventure as we go.   We'll see.

So that's my big news.


Pumping Iron

I feel like a new woman.  Seriously.  No, I haven't been hitting the gym to pump iron.  Laundry baskets carried up stairs multiple times a day still serve as my only source fitness.  Although as my energy level increases I may once again be ambitious enough to seek out intentional physical exertion.

As it turns out I was totally iron deficient!  I discovered this quite by accident. Out of desperation I bought iron suppliments.  It only took a few days to feel like my batteries that were chronically drained were being charged once again. 

Once I unexpectedly noticed such an extreme change in my energy level and a lifting of my totally overwhelmed, slightly depressed mood...I thought maybe I should look up iron defiiency anemia.  It described me!...right down to the light headed fainting feeling, creepy crawly restless legs, and total utter exhaustion..although I can't say I've ever been tempted to eat dirt.  I don't know how long I've been putting up with it...but for the last year I really have not felt well.   When combined with my relatively new issue of stomach acid gone wild I felt like I might be dying a slow death.  The more exhausted I was the more coffee I consumed...the more my stomach rebelled and attempted to eat me from the inside out.   I figured this must be what getting old feels like, at 34.  I assumed that this is what having 4 kids and homeschooling feels like.  This was as good as it got for me.   I just didn't understand why I felt so tired (all my kids sleep through the night!).   I'm kicking myself for not taking care of it sooner...I had grown so used to feeling miserable and tired that I stopped being concerned about it.  From what I'm reading I should probably still go see a doctor and get some blood work and testing done.  

I'm very glad to report that I don't need to retire to a rocking chair just yet!!  
I had suspected that iron depletion might be a cause but totally underestimated how much iron I would need to reverse the depletion.  I thought that eating my decent healthy diet and garden greens would be enough... I guess it wasn't.  I am also trying to be intentional about getting more quality natural iron sources into my diet.  Red blood cells here I come!

I am finally feeling on top of things again...parenting, schooling, house work.  I feel like I just might be able to pull it off!     All the deep cleaning/ spring cleaning...organizing and projects that have loomed over my head as impossible tasks for the last couple years are getting checked off my to-do list.  Even though I have a nasty head cold this week, and am a little run down and sleep deprived....I still have more ambition and energy than I did a month ago.  Crazy.   Even sick with a cold, I'm gutting closets, sorting storage areas,  rearranging bedrooms, and vacuuming underneath couches and beds.  Now I just feel normal tired.  

I know you are all just thrilled with me aren't you?  Because everyone in the great wide webdom of blogsphere cares about the oxygen levels of my blood right?
I thought not....but
sometimes it's the little things
that make a big difference. 

I have too many "little things" that are depending on me, too many little things to enjoy, teach and cherish
to be overwhelmed with my own lack of  hemoglobin.

This littlest monkey in particular keeps me on my toes lately!  They can sniff out weakness like a bloodhound.  Game on kids!  Mommy is back.

I have more exciting news than iron supplements that I've been waiting to share...
but you'll have to wait just a little longer.  Stay tuned....and no, it has nothing to do with supplements or my rapidly aging body. 


A rant about Happy Shiny Salesman Preachers

Because sometimes I need a good morning rant.

Here's the scoop, with a tasty sprinkle of sarcasm:

If you wanted to promote yourself, sell your books, sell your brand of feel good -God wants you to be rich religion what do you do?

Here are my suggestions....but apparently the most "unfluential" pastors motivational speakers out there have already discovered these strategies on their own.

First,  appeal to people's basic greed.
In our natural hearts we have an insatiable lust for more.  More wealth, more prosperity, more success, more health....more fame.   Promise people that their wildest dreams with come true if they come to Jesus and they will come, by the thousands.  They will enthusiastically embrace the incarnate God of the universe as their own personal VLT token.

Next,  paint God as  a giant vending machine.  God the great idol giver!  Forget crushing your idols.  God wants nothing more than to serve you up your idols on a silver platter.  Is it status you want?....just ask.  Is it health you desire?..just demand it.  Is it riches you crave?...just put a coin in the slot...chant a few times and cha-ching.  Or at least that's what the smiling guy standing on the stage is thinking.  Cha-ching all the way home to the mega mansion.

Assure people that they deserve it.  This will seductively play into their natural religious and moral pride.  Sell them a vaguely Christian version of karma.  Everyone wants to feel in control of their own destiny.   If they send their money to the guy on tv , do some good deeds, and smile a lot...God will owe them whatever their sinfilled, corrupt little heart desires.   You deserve it after all.  Don't worry about anyone else....just show the world by example how an "abundant and victorious" life should be lived.  After all Jesus hung on that cross so you could have a Bentley...and a mansion on the hill.  You will win others to Christ purely by their jealousy of your money.  Inform them  that all they need to do is chant the holy name of Jesus, live by a basic code of ethics, and they could be this "blessed too".    That was God's ultimate plan all along....he wants you to be a shiny, happy, chipper, positive thinking, self made man.  Kind of like Jesus...oh wait...scrap that.

If you really want to get fancy, start selling people a generational version of God karma.  You are rich and "blessed " today because your great great great grand-daddy was a good guy who smiled at people a lot. Or  even better, God is going to "bless you with riches" today because your great great great grand-daddy was treated unjustly...and now God owes you some retribution payments. You deserve it!  The moral of the story is be nice, do nice things and your great grand daughter will thank you for it when money falls from the sky.  On the flip side if people are starving and suffering....they must deserve it too.  They should try harder to win God's "favor".  Seriously folks, people blindly soak this stuff up.  If you refer only casually to biblical references taken totally out of context they will never know you just made it up.

Lastly, Give daily tidbits of advice on how to live their best live now.   Keeping them addicted to ill informed anecdotes and advice about nutrition, health, finances, and  the power of positive thinking will help everyone feel like a king's kid.  Assure them that they have the power to make themselves good people.  They should impress God enough that he'll open up the coffers of heaven....or at least they'll open up their wallets to buy more of what your selling.

Whatever you do don't let people find out that  "God doesn’t get things done through spiritual pick-me-ups, but through death and resurrection." 

Self improvement advice is so much more palatable than preaching uncomfortable things like death to self, cross carrying, and sacrifice.  It certainly won't win you a spot on Goodmorning America or a page in Forbes magazine.  

If you don't sell Jesus along with an appealing inheritance reward package what are you left with?  Just Jesus.    After all, leading people to a life of humble repentance and  surrender, accurately teaching people the Word of God, ministering to the hurting with the truth that Jesus is sufficient...that Jesus is the reward...just doesn't quite have the same level of pizzaz and stage sparkle.  I suppose you could try adding some jazz hands and a little tap dance to the end of your biblical exegesis just to give it more stage appeal.  

Preaching that the sacrificial, radical grace giving, bloody, God glorifying, gospel of Jesus Christ is central and sufficient  for both salvation as well as sanctification just wouldn't do.   

Using the Bible as more than a feel good recipe for moral and successful living probably wouldn't sell very well either.  

 Preaching about the reality of our wretched totally depraved condition before a holy God just doesn't make people feel like the winner's they know they are.   Preparing congregations for suffering, loss and trials ....well they would rather hear 3 simple steps to make all their problems disappear.  

If you don't deceptively scratch their itching ears and tell them what they want to hear, who will? I'm sure satan doesn't already have that one covered.

A little something to think about.
Do we know to the depths of our spirits the all satisfying depth, breadth and beauty of the true gospel of Jesus Christ?  Or are we being charmed by something else?


So thankful for 18 months

My baby is morphing into a little girl a little more each day. 
She follows the big kids around and is convinced she can do everything that they can.  
She is full of toddler opinions, attitude, and independence.
Her scrunched up nose ear to ear smile, and generous giggles light up our home.

Miss Cece is a smoocher.  There is nothing sweeter than her little puckered lips and her chubby hands on my cheeks.  
Anytime she hears music she dances. 
She loves to snuggle and sing with me in the rocking chair at bedtime.

She is Daddy's little sidekick, and his cherished treasure.

Every little girl should have a Daddy that reflects God's constant, secure, gentle, protecting, and adoring love for her.   I'm so thankful that I have that kind of Dad, and that my kids do too. 
It makes my heart ache to know that so many little girls don't know that kind of love, most will seek to fill that void the rest of their lives. 

I adore her curls.  

She is my little shadow, wanting to "help" with every chore.  

Grandpa is arguably one of her favorite people...quite possibly THE favorite.  The sound of his voice coming in the back door sends her into a frenzy of squealing elation.  She swoons, snuggles, plays, and is jealous for his full attention.  I think the swooning is mutual.  

We are so thankful for 1 1/2 years with our little treasure. 


Happy Friday!

So glad it's the weekend.  Me and my Honey are going to town!  Nothing a trip to Walmart can't fix.


Something Hazardous

"My desire and prayer to God is that your life and your ministry would have a radical flavor. A risk taking flavor, a gutsy, counter cultural, war time  flavor that makes average American people in your church uncomfortable.  A strange mixture of tenderness and toughness that keeps people a little bit off balance.  A pervasive summons to something more, something hazardous, something wonderful.  A saltiness and a brightness about your life...something like Jesus. "

"Jesus said do this.  Be light. Be salt.   Reviling comes. Persecution comes....and you rejoice.
....Crazy people who meet cancer, and meet death, and meet suffering with unflinching confidence in Christ and joy in being known by him and loved by him." John Piper

So much easier said than done.

Are we willing to embrace suffering...especially the kind that we choose by following Jesus into a world that hates him?    Are we willing to set our face unflinchingly toward heart break, pain, sacrifice, sickness, and loss as Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem?

Our natural inclination is to run from it.   Run far far away.   We would rather live in pleasant denial, blindness, self righteous arrogance, or apathetic compromise. I know when I  face unjust criticism, slander, or malicious treatment I feel the need to justify, defend and vindicate myself, anything but carry it to Jesus.

The honest truth of it is, we love our own lives, our reputations, our comfort, our money and our success more than we love the people of this world...or the One who died to redeem it.   We  love people for what they can do for us (or our kids)...not out of genuine grace and sacrifice.  If someone had nothing to offer us in return, no relationship, no obligation, no status, no reward...would we still love them?  At the same time, sometimes genuine love involves holding someone accountable, and leading them toward God's best for them...even when we have to risk our own desire for relationship, reputation, and convenience to do so.

"When Christ calls a man , he bids him to come and die"  Bonhoeffer.

Most Christians hide from persecution.  We crave the affections and approval of people more than intimacy with and obedience to Jesus.  We bow to the idol of people pleasing, and self preservation.  We avoid discomfort at all costs.

Do we truly reflect the one we call our Lord?  Or do we just use him as our self help cousellor, ticket to heaven, moral example, or good advice giver?
Are we willing to actually get our hands dirty?  Are we able  to be slandered, rejected, despised, and hated  and to glorify God in the midst of it all?   Are we willing to be unpopular for speaking truth?  Not likely. Not without the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It's easier to numb ourselves with easy lies.

"The truth will set you free"....but  in this life, for many believers, that freedom  looks like imprisonment, death, and persecution.

I think most average North American Christians know very little about suffering for doing good.  I know nothing of the persecution that many believers in the world and throughout history face.  The concept is completely foreign to most of us.   It seems we believe more in a Christian version of karma than we do the actual bloody, sacrificial, radical love displaying gospel of Jesus.   We tell our kids...."be nice, and people will be nice to you"...and even worse we believe it.   

I hear sentiments from Christians like "God just wants us to live our best life" in the context of make a lot of money, pursue a lot of wonderful experiences, and buy a lot of stuff to make us as happy as possible.  "If I'm a good person and try to live a life of integrity God will bless me with success, money, comfort etc" , as if God owes us something for our efforts.  {As if our moral efforts are anything but a steaming manure pile compared to the holiness of God.}  The problem of that line of thought is, at some point every body will come face to face with pain and loss regardless of how good you think you are.   How will your shallow sentiments and Christian karma feel then?  Probably like cold comfort...or an uncomfortable itchy sweater that you can't wait to tear off. What if God's blessing comes to you in the form of suffering...a "thorn in the flesh"?  Can we thank him for loving us enough to train and test us?
I think too many Christian believe the myth that "Jesus will make all your problems go away"...eventually He will...yes...but that comes after you die.  Until then, you follow in the steps of a homeless guy who was crucified, chances are that path isn't all gum drops and roses.  Pain brings us face to face with our idols and in crushing them...teaches us the essence of worship.

At some point everyone  feels the weight of grief, loss, disappointment, and the sting of betrayal.   If you are a follower of Christ you will, by default, choose it...and you will only thrive in it by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus warns his disciples, and Paul warns the churches that they WILL face hardship and suffering.  The disciples all chose death, stoning, being boiled alive, and crucifiction instead of returning to their previous comfortable life.  Not because they had to, but because God's love compelled them to.

When you choose to swim upstream your muscles will burn and ache and you will get slapped in the face by some salmon.  If you're comfortably floating downstream in an inner tube chances are you'll think this whole river ride is a breeze.

If you do nothing, if you stand for nothing, if you are not a threat to Satan and his ongoing deception and destruction, if you don't venture out,  if you don't speak the Word,  if you don't point to Jesus, if you don't  love the people that the lost world and the religious moralists despise.....you will feel no sting of opposition.

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." 2 Timothy 3:12

I know someone who risked it all to love a child..poured their time, affection, money and tears into a child for a decade but were turned away by one judges ruling. Opposition.  That is running toward pain, counting the cost and following Jesus.   That is not playing it safe.

If you love sacrificially,  extend grace radically,  give generously, speak truth boldly, serve with humility, step into a journey of reckless faith,  and count your own life as loss...

You will be slandered.  You will be cast out.   You will be rejected.   You will suffer loss and heartbreak.
You will be opposed.
At some point you will look at your completely empty bank account but trust that God will provide.  You will know from experience that God will give you the strength to persevere even when everything around you says quit.

And you will thank him for loving you enough to refine you even more...
and you will beg Him to show you more of His glory.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" 1 Peter 1:6

"Do not be surprised, my brothers, when the world hates you.  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.  Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and  you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." 1 John 3:13

"Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."  Colossians 3: 12

On a different topic.   Have you heard of Marc Martel?....he was on Ellen this past Monday because his video singing "somebody to love" by Queen went viral and he entered a cover band contest.  He is a Canadian prairie boy too.  We actually attended the same Bible College as my husband and I did.  Small world.  Anyhoo.....he and his band are called "Downhere".  They have been a favorite of mine for years.  Check them out on youtube ...then go buy their album on itunes.

Here is Marc singing a very applicable song by Keith Green.  I love it!!
"the world is sleeping in the dark that the church just can't fight 'cause' it's sleeping in the light.
how can you be so dead , when you've been so well fed?   'Cause Jesus rose from the grave dead and you can't even get out of bed"

and just for kicks...Queen.



I don't know why I used the word audacious as a title, other than that word clattered around in my head last week.  Maybe it's just a fun word to say.

Bold, unconventional, fearless, daring, unrestrained.     Exactly the kind of faith we need to have to move mountains.

Right now I am none of those things.   I am discouraged, weak, shaken, and wounded.   Maybe I was given the phrase "Audacious faith" to ponder earlier this week because God knew I would need it by Friday.

It's been a difficult weekend, despite the fun we had.   I was reminded once again  that even though we make plans God ultimately directs our steps.   Sometimes the path we're confidently walking down drops out from under us and we're left suspended frantically looking for the road ahead.

The lies being told to me are "you are going to fall...there is nothing for you up ahead.  This is the end of the road.  You are rejected.  You may as well just quit now.  Give up.   Forget your dreams and your passions.   Go build a comfortable life, reclaim what you've willingly given up, and set up camp in the land of bitterness".   I'm being wooed to that place.

Do I have the audacity to trust, serve, and keep walking forward even when I can't see the path?

Even when our dreams, affections, and plans have been mocked and opposed?   I not only see the enemy at work but also God.   He knows that our security, affections, and plans were held too firmly in our own short sighted grasp.  

How often do we continue confidently walking down a rut.  An easy, comfortable place when God has something so much better for us.
 I know God's purposes are sovereign.  He will use what was meant to defeat us for our good and his glory.  

I am confidant that God uses even closed doors, mistakes, rejections, and opposition.  He will redeem them for his perfect will.    What may start as a door slammed in our faces by the one who wants us to become paralyzed by fear and discouragement,  can also be God saying it's time to shake the dust off of your sandals and come with me.  I have another road to lead you down.  The last path was part of your training.  Do not fear.  I am still working.  My calling has not changed.  Come spend some time seeking only me and then your eyes will be opened to where you should place your next step. Trust me. 

I know there is so much more waiting beyond what I can see  here in the dark.  A week ago I walked along confidently thinking I knew were I was going...now I'm sitting here nursing the sting of stubbed toes.. squinting...willing my eyes to see...hoping to catch just a glimpse of the path.

 It will take an audacious faith, another cleansing of the Holy Spirit,  and the full armour of God to resist the baited traps of offense that the enemy has laid seductively in my path....and to resist crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head.

"Word of God speak,
would you pour down like rain
washing my eyes to see your majesty.
To be still and know that you're in this place
please let me stay and rest in your holiness"



Summertime The Sequel Encore..the last camping trip for real this time

We just spent another night camping.  We finished off our harvest season Friday and promptly threw the kids in the car, hooked up the trailer and drove to the lake. 
The weather here Friday was amazing!  I didn't even take swimsuits because...it's OCTOBER!
but it was warm enough for them.

This trip was unique because we met up with some "new friends".  Funny story.
We met a family at this park a couple months ago and decided we should be friends.
It's not everyday you meet someone at the beach, strike up a conversation, and make  plans meet up for a camping trip in the fall.  It was that wierd...or God ordained.

This young family stood out to us the day we met them because of their multi-ethnic fabulousness...and they had a whole herd of little kids.   Upon further stalking we discovered that 4 of their children are adopted from Ethiopia (at varying ages) and two grown the old fashioned way.  They have a passion for adoption (obviously) and take their faith, missional living, and raising their brood of kids seriously....although not serious enough to be moralistic elitists, legalists, or freaks...well maybe they are freaks by most peoples standards but only in ways we think are awesome.   They are authentic, grace filled people.   So relaxing.

It was so cool to spend 24 hours with a family that loves Jesus and lives their whole life in light of the extravagant grace they have received.  
We had the campground basically to our selves and we parked in front of the old-school play ground.  The 10 kids ran like a herd or howler monkeys while the four adults talked each others ears off sitting by the fire.  We had SO much to talk about.  I used up my words I think.  The great part is my new mommy friend is a great chatter box too so I didn't end up dominating the conversation like I sometimes do.  

 I hate small talk and casual conversation with acquaintances (I'm a total social nerd)... but I LOVE getting to really know people, building relationships, and joining in authentic community.  

 I love it when people are genuine.  No competitiveness, no agenda,  no insecurity,  no strings attached, no image to keep up, nothing to prove.  So refreshing!  All our kids ate junk food and ran around with holes in their jeans.   Only once did I point out the fact that I was a better mother because my kids had lettuce in their sandwiches.   Ha!  Just kidding...well, actually I did say that, but just to make a sarcastic point about parental pride and competitiveness.

 Honestly though, they are a few years younger than us but we can learn a thing or two about grace filled, dedicated, gospel focused parenting from this couple.  I look forward to gleaning more wisdom.   

Speaking of love...we have already arranged the marriages of our children...although I need to add a couple to keep them from being polygamists.   These two walked around like this both days...the whole time.  A four year old boy and an 18 month old girl aren't a typical favorite playmate combination but they were inseparable.  This sweet little boy was like a little mother   father hen.  I fell in love with all their kids...and my new mom friend.  
It was God's provision, and encouragement for this discouraged mommy {me}at just the right time. 

We chatted for hours about adoption, Africa, foster parenting, curriculum, homeschooling, practical and applied theology, parenting....
I'm still on cloud nine.   It's a rare thing indeed to find someone who can relate, give advice and share wisdom on all these things that make up my own life and interests.  

The kids had a great time together. Although it started to look a little "Lord of the Flies" once the t-shirts came off and they found old tiki torches in the trees.