Wednesday, May 20, 2015

It Hurts My Heart...But Not for the Reasons You Might Think

I cancelled our newspaper subscription a couple months ago.  I had a few reasons, but my main reason was that all too often I came away from reading the newspaper...specifically the editorial page & letters to the editor...feeling sad, disheartened, discouraged, or frustrated.

There's so much out there to make us feel overwhelmed...and not just in our newspapers.  It's in social media too.  So many opinions.  So many hurting or angry people who lash out at others whose opinions differ from theirs.

And, so many people who reject God.  And many of them seem to hate, or at the very least have serious disdain for those of us who believe in Him.

So, I canceled the paper because it seriously depressed me.  But, the last couple weeks it's been coming to our house again.  I can only guess that this is a marketing strategy by the newspaper to try to woo us back as customers.

I'll admit.  I've enjoyed getting the paper again.  For as much discouraging news & opinion there is, there are also interesting and joyful tidbits.

But, this morning I was reminded of what it was that made me cancel it in the first place.  I was reading the letters to the editor and there was one in there where the author was responding to some earlier letters written by people who were obviously Christians and expressing their Christian views.  This author wrote in to disparage the views he had read in those earlier letters.

His opening line included..." I would note that this country was not founded on religious principles but on the freedom to worship any manmade entity chosen".
Did you catch that?  Any 'manmade' entity.  It immediately clued me in to the direction and the tone that his letter would take.  But, I kept reading.  Here are some additional exerpts from his letter...

"the book of fairy tales known as the Bible."
"The women of this country and the world crack me up: They believe in a silly book that has held them as second-class citizens since fools started reading it."
"In 2007, a poll showed 78 percent of Americans considered themselves Christian. By 2015, such poll results were down to 70 percent. I take great comfort in seeing that the people of this country have gotten 8 percent smarter. I guess it is harder to get people to believe in silly stories when you can’t force them at the point of a sword or business end of a firearm.'

Actually, that was the majority of his letter.  There were only a few other sentences I didn't include.  I came away from reading that letter to the editor feeling like someone had punched me in the stomach.  And, I haven't been able to shake it from my thoughts all day.

The things written by the author of this letter were actually quite mild.  If you spend any time reading comment threads under posts or articles about controversial subjects that appear on the internet, you'll quickly notice the prevailing attitude toward people of faith....and there's a lot of anger and hatred.

I know some of that anger comes from the way that some Christians have abused the name of Christ.  Sometimes wounded people walk into the Church and walk away with deeper wounds than before.

I also know that the Bible tells us that we can expect to be hated, persecuted, and ridiculed.  I know that people will see the Cross as foolishness or a stumbling block.

I know this.  And, yet, it still hurts.

Here's the truth.   Part of why it hurts is because it hurts my pride.  It's no fun to hear people say that as a Christian I must be a fool or a bigot....lacking intelligence or any sense of reason.  It hurts my heart to hear people mock the Truths and the Faith I hold sacred and dear.  I cringe when they take the Name of the One who created our inmost beings in vain....flinging it about as just another cuss word.

But there's another reason it hurts my heart.  It is the reason that it follows me through my day....the reason that my heart is in inner turmoil.

You see, they can call me a fool.  They can call me deluded.

But, what really hurts is when I see how closed their hearts and minds are to God.  I CARE about these people.  I care deeply about those who have rejected God.  And, I don't know how to reach them.  I don't know how to change their minds.

I know that ultimately only the Holy Spirit can change a heart.  But, I so often pray for  or look for the words to say that might plant a begin to open their hearts and minds to the reality of God.

I've taken apologetics courses.  And, they have been great confirmations for me of what I already know in my heart.  There are so many logical, fact-based, science-based arguments for God.  But, I'm not good at recalling a specific argument during a discussion.  And, I'm certainly not as eloquent as some of our modern-day apologists like Mary Jo Sharp, Ray Ciervo, Norman Geisler, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, and many more.

I can hear and take in and understand the excellent points that they share.  But, I feel like a total dud when I try to incorporate those points into a conversation.  I'm not a great communicator.  And, I'm certainly not a great debater.  I'm too emotionally driven.  It's too easy for me to become emotional in the midst of a discussion.  And, someone who is truly effective in debate needs to be able to keep their emotions in check.  They need to maintain an attitude of compassion but also to have a clear mind and not allow themselves to become clouded with emotion.

So I think of the many people I know who are atheists or agnostics.  And, I think of those who have placed their hope in a false god.  I think of an entire world of lost people.  And, I don't know what to do.  I don't know how anything I can say or do can put a dent in their unbelief.

I feel helpless.

And, this is so critical.  This is a matter of eternal life and eternal death.

I know I can pray.  And, I do.  I frequently prayerfully intercede for those I know who don't believe.  I pray that God would work in their lives, would reveal Himself to them.

I recently had someone tell me that I am a burden-bearer.  I see the needs or hurts of other people and I feel it deeply in my own heart.  And, then someone else mentioned that burden bearers are also those who are often called to intercessory prayer.

This seems to fit me and my personality and the way I am wired.  But, then, I still question myself.  Am I using prayer as a cop out from actually DOING or SAYING anything?  But, then, I argue with myself again and say that kind of attitude reveals my true attitude about prayer...that it's a nice thing to do but doesn't hold the same power as physically doing or saying things.

And, round and round I go.  I get myself so turned upside down that I'm no longer effective at anything. 

And, so instead of taking the burdens of the world upon myself (only One can and DID do that), I need to keep it simple or I will analyze it to death.  What should my response be?

Pray:  Prayer IS powerful.  More powerful than we realize.  NEVER underestimate prayer.

Love:  Love whenever the opportunity presents itself....a kind word, encouragement, a good deed.  These all go further than we can know.

Speak:  Don't be afraid to speak the truth.  But choose your times to speak wisely and always with compassion.

Trust:  Trust that God's got this.  He knows the hearts of each and every man, woman, and child more intimately than we can know or they can know their own selves.  He is still sovereign.  He reigns.

"I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say:  My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please."
Isaiah 46: 9-10

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Schooling Decisions: Public, Private, or Home School?

I put my foot in my mouth the other week.  I do this fairly often.  You would think I would either learn avoid doing it or at least not let it bother me so much.  But,  as always, I was so embarrassed.  And, then, I wondered if it was better to go back to that person & apologize for what I considered quite the snafu or to just let it go.  I'm pretty sure I analyze things more than the average joe.

Anyway, our son Joseph attends preschool two days a week at a really awesome small private Christian school.  He LOVES preschool and we've had a really wonderful experience there.  There's a wonderful sense of community in that school.  And, part of me wishes we could afford to send all our boys there.

We received a call from the admissions director wondering what our plans were for Kindergarten for Joseph.  We explained that he'll be attending Kindergarten at the same public school that his brothers go to.  But, I told her how happy we've been with them and how much Joseph has enjoyed preschool.  Like any good  admissions director, she asked what went into our decision process about where to send him.  They like to have a sense of what families are looking for.

I explained that the main deterrent to private school for us was the cost.  She explained a bit about their scholarship programs.  And, she inquired about any other reasons we may have.   What if money weren't an issue, were there other considerations?  I told her we are actually quite happy with our district and that it's an awesome public school.

She dug a little deeper.  Was there anything else?  And, here's where I stuck my foot in my mouth.  This is not something in a million years that I normally would have shared with the admissions director at a private school.  But, it seemed like she could sense that there was even more behind our decision.  And, she was right, there was.  And, she SEEMED to really want to know.  So, I told her.

I told her how I had once heard someone I respect say, that if all Christian families pull their children from the public school system to either homeschool or attend private school, who was going to be left to shine a light in our public schools?  And this has kind of stuck with me.

And, I told her this.

There was a pause.  A silence that told me I said too much.  I immediately regretted it.  She, of course, being very professional regained her footing and said something very diplomatic like 'I can certainly respect that.'  But, I felt so foolish.  Like I mentioned, this normally wouldn't have come out of my mouth.  But, somehow it did anyway.

Because, here's the thing.  I absolutely believe that each family is called in different ways.  Some are called to homeschool.  Some to private school.  Some to public.  One is not 'more right' than another.  I DO respect each families individual choice about schooling their children.  It's just that for us, public school seems to be the right choice.

When I had my first son, I almost immediately began reading up on the whole home-schooling movement.  I have my degree in elementary & early childhood education, so I thought this could be  the thing for me.  In fact, I had become so convinced from all the things I was reading, that I was pretty sure it should be the right thing for everyone!

Then, I had my second son....and my third.  By the time, my oldest had reached Kindergarten age, I had three children age 5 and under and I was tapped out!  I couldn't even begin to fathom how I would add homeschooling into the mix.   So, we enrolled him in public school.  But, homeschooling was still in the back of my mind.

We also liked the idea of private Christian school. My husband had attended a Christian school for all but one of his years in school.   But, we had even less money then to work with than we do now.  It wasn't financially feasible. We knew that John's parent's had sacrificed a LOT so they could send their four children to Christian school.  But, we already felt like we were living as frugally as we could.  We didn't see what else we could sacrifice.   So that idea got placed on an even further back shelf.

Now here we are with four boys.  Wyatt's in 6th grade.  Edison's in 4th. Charlie's in 1st.  And, Joseph is in preschool.  I've learned a few things about myself as a mother.   I've learned that as much as I ADORE my children, I do better when I have a bit of a break from them during the day.  I don't think I could efficiently & effectively carry out the role of both mom & teacher.

I have some friends who DO fulfill both roles & SHINE.  Some have decided to homeschool because their children have special learning needs & they have found they are better able to meet those needs in their own home.  Others just have such a gift for making the home a place of enrichment & incredible learning.  I admire each of my home-schooling friends immensely!  I also know that I just don't have the same gifting.

And the thing is, we LOVE our elementary school.  And, we LOVE our district.  We know we've got a fabulous situation that most parents would love to have.  Our school has a true sense of community.  The teachers, staff, & parents all work together closely and truly have the children's best interests at heart.  We have many Christian teachers at our school.  Our principal is a Christian.  And, there are many Christian community members on our school board.

For us, there's really no reason to leave.  In fact, we've considered purchasing a different home some time in the future.  But, the fact is, we really want to stay in our district & at our school.

And, our school has pulled together through some very difficult times...some very tragic times.

A young boy named Jaden in the 5th grade is battling cancer.  Our school has been involved in fundraising for him.  And, tshirts were given to each child at the school that show support for him.  On a school-level & district-wide they continue to encourage and support Jaden.

And, even more sadly, in December one of our 6th grade teachers was brutally murdered in her own home.  Miss Mathewson was my son's math teacher this year.  The entire school was just completely rocked & shaken by this horrific event.  It was even more devastating to learn that of the two young men arrested in her murder (part of a random home invasion) one was 24 and one was only 16.

But, I want to tell you that our school amazed me even more during this time.  Even though the teachers & staff themselves were absolutely devastated, they put the children of the school first and foremeost.  They did everything possible to offer counseling & guidance through the maze of emotions.  They protected our children from the media firestorm.

And, parents pulled together to show our support for the school.  Meals were brought in for teachers.  Cards, letters, emails came from far and wide.  We all came together as a family.  And, while the loss of Miss Mathewson wounded us all deeply, as a school and as a community we all came out stronger.

I never in a million years would have guessed something like this would have happened at our school, to one of my son's own teachers.  This is not the kind of circumstance anyone ever wants to experience.  But, it solidified in my mind that we were where we belonged.  Our children were in excellent hands.  And, I trust our school & our district completely.

And, going back to the comment I made to the admissions director about Christian families shining their light in the public school....I hope that our family is able to do that.  I hope that our children bless those around them with kindness and the love of Jesus.  I hope that as parents we do the same.

So, what are some things that have gone into your schooling decisions for your children?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dear Vera Catherine....A Letter From 1946

I've mentioned before that one of the reasons I love auctions so much is that you never know what you'll find.  And, sometimes you get a snapshot of a time in history and the lives of the people who lived in that time.  Today I bought a box lot of vintage paper goods.  In that box was a typed letter from 1946.  It appears to be a friend writing a friend in another part of the country.  I love that you can see glimpses of what it was like to live in that time, but that you can also see similarities to how we all think and feel no matter what time we live in.

Dear Vera Catherine,

I was sitting here letting my thoughts roam and I suddenly remembered I haen't heard from you for some time.  I can't remember if I owed you a letter or not but since I have some extra time I thought I would write you.

Well, Les, two more days and my career as a stenographer is over.  Then I shall become a housewife.  I believe it will take me much longer to become a good housewife than it did to become a steno.  I am looking forward to it very much tho and have a million and one things planned to do.  I have started some embroidery work that I want to finish and also start a layette for the baby.

Guess I told you that David and I shall be parents sometime in November.  We are quite thrilled abou the whole things and only wish tomorrow was November.  The poor baby doesn't know what a future it has ahead having me for a mother.  It scares me just to think of it.  Guess I'll have to get over that right quick, don't you think?  I want a boy, naturally, and David wants a girl.  We haven't thought too much about names but I have picked David Lowell for a boy and Ann Elaine for a girl.

Esther keeps me informed about Cheryl Kay and I never heard anyone talk so proudly of their baby as they do.  Am so glad all is going well with them.  Martha wrote and told me all about her little girl too.  I'm glad it was a girl as that makes her a nice family now.

As yet we are still sharing an apartment but hope to have something soon.  I would like to get a place and get settled before the time comes when I can't do much.  We may hear something yet this week on the apt. downstairs.  The elderly couple living there now have inherited a home and as soon as they can get into it we have their apt.  They had to serve a 9 mos. notice to the people intheir house and that will be up by the end of Sept.  They offered them a $100 bonus to move sooner.  But even a hundred dollars doesn't help find a place to live now.  We are fortunate to have such a nice place to share.

The weather here has been quite hot but I don't think I will mind it much when I stay home and can dress accordingly.  Now I have to wear hose and all that goes with it.  The nights are rather cool and we have two windows in our room which is a great help.

David has been doing some painting in the apt. for Kay and it sure looks good.  He repainted the kitchen table white and we put Mexican decals on the corners and now he is going to paint all the cupboards and woodwork and we will decorate the rest of the kitchen.  I like it so well I want him to get me a table to paint for my kitchen then we are going to buy chrome chairs to go with it.  We have a lot of ideas if we ever get a place to put them to work.  I am getting a blond oak dinette set which is the same wood as my bedroom and then we are getting two small corner cupboards for the one end of the room which he will paint white and my buffet will be a small chest of drawers with extension shelves on either side also painted white.  I'm getting my sister's portable sewing machine and shall attempt to cover the dinette chairs and make draperies out of the same material.  Sounds like a lot of work but we are anxious to get started.

I just finished a short letter to Louise Sembower.  It was a 'must' as they sent me an Easter greeting and I never acknoweldged it.  I don't know what to write to her but after she had the shower and all for me I almost had to do it.  I just wonder if they found a place to live yet by themselves.

It seems like I have been doing a lot of talking about us but am interested in what you are doing now.  I hope you are taking it easy since school closed.  What are you going tot do for a vacation?  David and I spent 4 days in Texas visiting some friends we met at Camp and sure had a grand time but it was far too short a time.  We went over Decoration Day and the weekend.  Had pullman both ways which was the only way the doctor would let me travel.  We won't get home this fall as we had once planned but will have something nice to bring with us next spring.  I don't know if any of our families will get to come out or not.  David's mother and dad would rather wait until we get a place of our own so they can make a real visit and in a way that would suit me better also.  Mother would like to be with me before and after the baby comes but I don't know if she can make it or not.  David's sister will be in school and she will almost have to be there.  I'm really not worried about it at all right now but suppose I will be when the time comes.

Irene and Hilton, this one couple that we go with a lot, have found and apt. and so Irene is quitting her job also.  We plan on seeing a lot of each other as our apartments are within walking distance.  They are almost as thrilled about the baby as we are.  Then David works with a nice fellow his age and he and his wife have been up to the apt.  She doesn't work either and expects to spend a lot of time at our apts as she has only a sleeeping room to stay in.  I want to have the four of them in for dinner some evening when I quit work.

On June 16th David and I joined the First Presbyterian Church here in K.C.  We like the church very much and it is quite active.  Our Sunday School class is a mixed group of people our age and we had a picnic last night and 39 turned out.  David and I and Irene and Hilton are in charge of the August social for our class.  The young people also have a bowling league of 6 teams and David bowls with them.  I was going but then had to drop out.  Our minister is a very good bowler.

I quit at 3:00 today and am going home and do my ironing.  It makes me feel good to think this is the last week I'll have to go home and do the ironing after work.

Write when you can and let me know how things are with you.


Friday, March 20, 2015

So What Kinds of Things Do I Buy At Auction

For those of you who aren't connected with me on Facebook, my post from a couple days ago describing my love of buying & selling vintage items, may have been news to you.  For those who see me all the time on Facebook, you might find today's post boring & repetetive.  But, for the rest of you.....

I showed you where I go to find my treasures to re-sell.  But, I haven't shown you any of my treasures.  So, what kinds of things do I find at auction?  I can't even BEGIN to tell you.  It's everything and anything!

Sometimes it's beaten up, ready for the curb furniture.  Sometimes it's a diamond in the rough furniture piece just needing a little refresher.  I find glassware, picture frames, vintage board games, boxes of miscellany, artwork, and old army first aid kits.  I've found handwritten diaries & old photos of people whose lives have long since passed.  I've found vintage jewelry, old bottles, crates, & odd things that I had to research to discover how they were once used.

It's a treasure hunt!  It's always a learning experience.  And, it's so much fun.  I love it!

Here are some of my favorite, more recent finds....

You just never know what you'll find!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The End of the Day

Sometimes I come to the end of a day feeling defeated & exhausted & I say "Ugh. That is a day I don't want to repeat." Other times I come to the end of a day and say, "That was a pretty good day."
Today was a pretty good day.
But, the thinker in me can't leave it at that. Because, when I really think about it, I SHOULD want to repeat those 'stinky' days too. Every single day. Every single breath...even the ones that cause us to labor and sigh and strain & strive...are amazing.
Can I remember that?

When A Hobby Becomes More

I've talked on here a little bit about how in the last couple years I've gotten into buying & selling vintage items.  I do most of my selling on a Facebook group that I started & some other similar Facebook groups.  Plus, I have a group called Vintage Revival Market that sprung up from that Facebook group where we do Vintage Sales events 2-3 times a year.

Our Vintage Sales typically bring in about 45 vendors & hundreds of customers.  We also have a food stand & a raffle with donated items.  All proceeds from the food & raffle go to a local ministry, House of His Creation.   And, since the church where we hold the event donates the use of their space we are also able to give the entire proceeds from vendor registration fees to House of His Creation.   We also had one sale that we did last summer to benefit the adoption fund of my cousin & his wife....who are now proud parents of a beautiful girl!

I guess I started getting into this whole field because I love vintage, it was fun, and it also brought in a little supplemental income for our family.  Now that we've expanded a bit & hold these vintage sale fundraiser events, I've been toying with the idea of whether or not I should turn it into an official non-profit business.  However, while I have creative ideas & vision, I just do not have much in the way of business sense.  So, that's definitely on the back burner.

Anyway, our next sale is coming up April 11.  And, I need some more inventory for my own personal stand.  Yes, I'm there as a vendor and as a coordinator.  I'm not sure how long I'll be able to continue doing that.  At our sale last fall I was rarely at my own stand because I was helping in other areas & making sure everything was running smoothly.

Every Tuesday there is an auction about 5 minutes from my house.  This is where I typically go to get my inventory.  Sometimes I can get awesome deals with room for a fabulous profit margin.  Other times things are way out of my price range.   While I don't go every week, I'm there often enough that I'm definitely in my comfort zone when I'm there.

Here are some pictures from this week.  I wish I had gotten a few more because this doesn't even begin to show the scale of this auction.  During the day, there are three different auctioneers going at once.  One in the front outside.  One in the back outside.  And, one inside.  Then, there's an evening auction inside for furniture.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Starting Over....Again

Well, it's time for a re-do, a fresh start, a new beginning.  The 'freedom' I had decided to embrace in my last Monday check-in for healthy eating quickly spiraled down into the old familiar lack of self-control.  I have been eating terribly.  Not only have I been eating terribly, I've been eating a LOT.  It's been binge eating if I'm honest.

I am so grateful that even though I fail time and time and time again, that God loves me through it all.  And, he always has grace and new mercies to shower on me.

I'm done beating myself up about my consistent failures.  When I do that I only sink deeper into the hole of self-loathing.  Am I disappointed in myself?  Am I frustrated?  Absolutely.

But, here's the thing.  I could wallow in that.  I could sit and lament how far I'd be by this point if I'd just stayed on track.   I could be angry at myself for gaining back all the weight that I worked so hard to lose last year.  I could convince myself that I'm doomed to repeat this pattern of lose, gain, lose, gain for the rest of my life.

OR I can set my face forward in hope rather than looking back in regret.  I can pick myself up and start over knowing that God doesn't love me any less for my failings.  And, He's always willing....eager strengthen me as I turn to Him.

I had mentioned that I had started keeping a small journal of 'words' or reminders that I felt like God was giving me.  I looked back at that journal and found an entry from February.  I remember I'd been having a particularly rough day with my kids that day.  And, I know I was feeling extremely low.  I was feeling like a failure.  Much like I could easily allow myself to feel now.

But, as I read through that entry, I was refreshed and encouraged once again.  Here's just a few of the things I had written down...things I felt God was saying to me.
 - I am here.
 - I'm always here.
 - Keep seeking me.  It won't always be easy.
 - Remember all that I have done for you.  My purposes will stand.
 - No shame.  Only moving forward.
 - I am a gentle Father.

I am claiming these today as promises.  I am thanking God for his faithfulness even when I'm faithless.

I've also been convicted in my spirit that a lot of my issues that I struggle with - food issues, time management, angry reactions toward my children - stem from a larger issue with self-control .  The Bible has a lot to say about self- control.

Galatians 5:22  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law."

I Thessalonians 5:6  "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled."

1Thessalonians 5:8  "But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet."

1 Peter 1:13  "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."

This is just a small sampling of the verses that speak about self-control.

Again, I feel weak.  I don't know how to achieve this self-control that God so obviously wants for my life.  But, I know that I can ask Him to help me in this area.  And, so that is what I plan to do.

What are my goals?  What will the daily changes look like in my live?   Well, here are few of my goals for each area where I know I lack self-control.

Food issues  - Eat mainly a plant-based diet with small to moderate amounts of meat & dairy
 - Avoid most processed sugars
 - Eat mostly whole foods.  Avoid processed/ packaged foods.
 - Avoid preservatives, food dyes, & artificial sweeteners.
 - Only drink alcohol occassionally
 - Incorporate exercise into my life

Time management
- Spend less time on Facebook, watching tv, surfing the internet.
 - Create a general game plan for the day.
 - Start to formulate patterns for my days, weeks, months
 - Embrace opportunities to spend time with my kiddos rather than looking at them as interruptions.

Anger/ Dealing with my children
 - Begin my day with an attitude of thankfulness (even when I don't feel like it.)
 - Invite God into my day & my day's activities each morning.
 - 'Catch' my kids doing good things.  Let them know when I see that.
 - When I feel angry or frustrated, be conscious of using and even, calm voice rather than yelling (which only exacerbates the situation)

Pray.  Pray.  Pray.

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