Martin Luther King Jr ain’t no holiday.

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Martin Luther King Jr Day-

A day we don’t take off from school,
but rather reflect on it’s meaning (and divine purpose).

Katie-girl created the meme above as her assignment.
We came to the conclusion that God’s Golden rule …
“Do to others what you would have them do to you”
is the quickest path to peace.

I find Martin Luther King Jr’s quote,
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that”,
to be quite profound. 

Why do we still struggle, cept by sin alone.
Evil exists, but so does hope.

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Our family discussed that each one of is a part of the peace process.

To understand that concept better,
we wrote down all the words that could mean peace
(on a dove as a symbol of peace).

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…on the other side of our dove we did fingerprints of ethnic diversity,
as a symbol that Jesus Loves All the Children (people) of the World.
(yes, that is a Sunday School song *smile*)

We also watch a Reading Rainbow episode on Martin Luther King Jr,
as well as listen to his (famous) speech.

What God inspired in Dr King ain’t no holiday…
it should be a life style. 

“To recognize that all men are created equal,
that we may all be judged not by the color of our skin,
… but by the content of our character,
that we should all be able to sit down at the table of brotherhood
… together.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

What do you choose?

New Beginnings, A Welcome to 2016

I began blogging in 2008 with this opening statement:

To New Beginnings…

Ah yes, the changing tides of life are upon us…life is so fast, and as one child begins his new journey in our loving home, our oldest son ventures out to face the world…thus the desire to share ‘the little things’ with those we love…Life is a journey, not a destination!

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It was a fresh new beginning in many ways that year.  The biggest one being that I had closed a chapter on my years of providing daycare for many lovely families.  Baby #6 was born that year, and we were in a new season… I was in a new season… to learn to just “be”.
Just be a mom, just be at home, just be still even…

In the last 8 years I’ve learned to embrace intentional parenting, to guide a self-led learner in their homeschool journey, face special needs with a gentle approach, and endure an highly sensitive (albeit gifted) child…

we have moved 6 times; have had a mother (-in-law) with severe dementia get diagnosed, live with us, then live in a care facility near us; have had 3 young adults take turns in 3 consecutive years living with us for their own reason and season; we’ve graduated two homeschool students, and have seen our oldest son marry the girl of his dreams…

It’s been a blessed journey.

And the voyage continues…

This year is different.  

Instead of adventures outside of the home,
such as field trips, co ops, and homeschooling alongside other families, sports, random park days, etc…

we are now creating them inside the home,
such as providing childcare, offering a preschool co op in my house, and still encompassing learning from home.

It’s been a huge transition for us.

We went from following a rhythm to our days, where we had guidelines
but could embrace the moments in life as they came.
It was a low key and very effective way to learn and live in our family environment.

Now…

we follow a schedule,
not just a schedule for my own days activities with my kids and care kids,
but also the care kids parent’s work schedules, sports schedules, public school schedules, etc…

The hours are long, unpredictable, and busy…

my stay-at-home responsibilities are still in high demand as well…
and some days I question my sanity (as in why am I doing all this?)…

yet I already know the answer.

~To share Christ’s love.

I admit I have to do a lot of things to make this all work, family life and all…

but more importantly…

I get to…
*play with little people all day
*do what I love to do
*follow God’s lead for my life
*show God’s grace in our daily lives
*cultivate friendships with other moms
*show my kids that endurance with the right attitude means everything.

So I welcome 2016 and all it has to offer!

 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
 

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.

And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4: 4-7

The Days of May

Child #3 turned 18-
yes, no longer a child in reality, but still my child.

Some outdoor fun:

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Child #6 turns 7-
“the baby” who obviously is no longer a baby.

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and frankly, Bryson (7) is TJ’s mini-me!

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Then there was Mother’s Day…

me and my boys!

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as we went to Grandma M’s place to visit her!

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I’m pretty sure she enjoyed her time with us.

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Next came homeschool State testing,
which officially wraps up our school year for 2012-2015.

The results excelled some of my expectations, and was typical for some.
It definitely showed that time, consistency, and individual attention was effective for my Aspie child.
Unlike the previous 12 yrs of testing, I opted to test the kids additionally in Social Studies and Sciences.  I was curious as to what the results might be, with the awareness that we have not truly had any formal lessons beyond interest-led topics and good quality books (not text books).  They all scored average in Social Studies (which was not history based much to my surprise) and excelled in the sciences.  Hmmm, I guess self-led learning is efficient!  *love it!*

So with all this, comes the announcement of TJ’s graduation!
Transcripts, a diploma, and some family fun!

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* May was actually an emotional roller coaster of events;
from a recent loss of a beloved teen,
to reflecting previous losses of loved ones in this same month (3 to be exact),
to celebrating life and accomplishments and embracing joys in the moments…
I took time off from here (the blog) to regroup and regain a sense of normality.
I am well rested, reestablishing goals, and looking forward to a relaxing summer!

~simply grateful

A Delicate Mood on this Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day…

a bit of a fog today.  A few days ago we lost a sweet young friend in a tragic car accident.
One of my preschoolers back in the day, now 17 and full of dreams… now smashed hopes.
Not really, for eternally, she is with Jesus… yet it is still painful.
and her family, her parents, her sisters, her brother, her boyfriend… all in my prayers.
No words really…   She had a heart like Jesus…
“Thank you Jesus for the joy you allowed her to spread in our lives and in our community…
may we continue to pay it forward in Your name”…

One thing about loss is that you appreciate what you have…

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My boys are good to me, and I am thankful for the joy each one brings to my heart.

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The girls add a sweetness that sprinkles my life with happiness.

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I love how we enjoy doing things as a family…
it’s a priceless gift really…

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one that adds grace to our days, love in our hearts, and gentleness in our attitudes.

Happy Mother’s Day all my lovely friends.
This day is a celebration to many, and yet difficult for others;
loss, broken relationships, heartbreaks of many kinds…
but there is still JOY because YOU were born! Carry on and be glorious…

“In the same way, let your light so shine before others,
so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. ”
Matthew 5:16 –

“No Need to Be One of Those Weird Christians”

Those were the words in a comment, that stood out to me, while reading through a facebook post on Why Christians Should Celebrate Halloween.

Me?  I started cracking up laughing.
I guess I never really thought of us as a Weird Christian before,
but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true!!

Now, obviously, I know we are different because we do not celebrate Halloween like most of our Christian peers.  After all, there is a popular compromise; do the fun stuff, avoid the evil stuff.  right?  ‘cept what I see is a gray line that is constantly able to waver.

We (my family, especially us parents) are known for Living our Faith Out Loud.
We choose to walk our talk, so to speak.

This makes us Weird. 
We commonly do not fit in,
even within our Christian Community,
and we are ok with that.

We judge not others, but we are responsible to respond to the Lord’s convictions for our family.

We love our fellow Christians as well as our hometown community of non-believers.  We interact well with them, work alongside them, cheering on games side by side, chatting at the local grocery stores, playing at parks, and all that small town stuff.  However, we are weird.  I admit it.

Weird; to be strange… abnormal… unusual.

That fits us!

Funny enough what we (my family) thinks is normal, is exactly what is abnormal about us.

Swearing, as an example.  We just don’t do it.  I wouldn’t swear in front of Jesus, and since His presence is always with us, well, the conviction is not to do it.  period.  However, my older children (adults) often see even youth pastors swear in casual conversations with them.   Is that bad?  Well, what does the Bible say about foul language?

Drinking… ah yes, this is as tricky as the Halloween controversy, eh?  Is it a sin to drink?  no.  Is it a sin to get drunk?  yes.  That seems black and white enough, right?  Nope.  Again, we are the rarity of people who choose not to drink alcohol, at all.    Why?   A couple of reasons.  One is draw a clear line for our own kids; drinking is not necessary.  Two, who are we to cause another to stumble, for we don’t really know who struggles with alcohol and/or addictions, right?  Three, because Jesus is enough.

Media/movies…  language, suggestive behavior, lewd humor, and shows that portray dad as stupid and mom as overtly sexy are all avoided.  Do you happen to know of that childhood song “oh be careful little eyes what you see” , and what you say, and what you hear, and what you do?  yeah, that pretty much sums up our perspective.

At church we are unusual.  and oh, we so love our church family!  They are some amazingly beautiful beings!  However, we are still weird.

My family likes being together, not segregated into different groups.  My teens would prefer to sit with us in service.  My younger kiddos will go to Sunday School, but they really wouldn’t mind sitting with us to hear our lesson either.

and Home Groups aka Life Groups?!

We really kinda don’t fit in there either!  Are you surprised?  LOL, yeah, me either.
So what’s different there?  simply just life style.
We have many kids.  Honestly that makes it hard to just crash someones house that’s already full of people for the Life Group, right?
We have littles, middles, teens, and adult children… a 20 year stretch from 1st child to last.  So our friends often either have young children or teen/adult children… so which Life Group should we choose?
Also, our kids like hanging with us, which is awkward to most adults.  We have a life group, and maybe a great conversation about baptism going on… my kids would love to sit and listen to that rather than run wild outside, be put in front of a movie, or simply stay home.  Is that strange?

So we may not be of the world, but we are most definitely in the world.  We are called to care, to love, to share, to shine His Light… and we embrace those who come across our path.

There is much wisdom in Matthew 7.  Starting out with “ Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.    Yes, we are one of those weird Christians, we live our faith out loud, doing what we are called to do…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment. 

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Memory Care and Still Making Memories

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We are grateful that Chanelle arranged everything to get Grandma M moved closer to us.

Grandma M is getting settled in her new place, much thanks to Chanelle for easing her transition.

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Enjoy fresh air at Grandma M’s new place.
It’s still not easy to visit her.

Oh, she does live close now,
that part IS easy.

However, many (most) of her family and friends do not come visit.
They love her, and care about how she is doing.
But on a serious note,
you never quite know what to expect when a loved one struggles with severe dementia.
Even to admit the reality of what that is, is difficult.  It’s sad.
And at times, it’s baffling.

I think the lack of visitors she receives has many factors:

1.  It’s scary.  Scary to be met face to face with the reality at hand.
She has dementia.  Her brain is dying, and it’s obvious.
She often doesn’t make sense, gets confused,
and struggles with basic life skills like how to use ketchup with french fries.

The Positive Note:
Although she is often scared (who wouldn’t be),
and can be grumpy in daily life…
Oh the JOY she has when she gets visitors!
because, let’s face it… her brain might be shutting down,
but she is still a person, a person with feelings and a heart.

2.  People are busy. 
This part is different for everyone.  Each person that has been in Grandma M’s life gets to decide for themselves if they want to visit her, and how often.  Chanelle, while still living here, visits mom often, daily even.  My dear husband, because he works full time plus some, and still has large family at home, will often do weekly visits with his mom.  The kids and I seem to be on a every other week visit, not for any particular reason cept that is when it seems to work for us.  I am hoping in the summer we can make that into weekly visits.

The Positive Note:  If you have a loved one who struggles with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you get to decide how much time to invest in that person’s life.  Time is for you and against you.  For you, because the person with dementia doesn’t really have a concept of time; against you because we never really know how much time they have left to be cognitive.    Visit when you can, but sooner is always better than later.

3.  What will we talk about or do?
Keep it simple.   I call it surface talk; the weather, what was for breakfast, look at the beautiful flowers, and most importantly, smile.  It will help ease the initial awkwardness.
Things you can do; enjoy a cup of coffee together, go for a walk, look at pictures (that you may want to bring).

The Positive Note:  Just being there is enough, so don’t put any expectation on the visit.

Her condition is heartbreaking but not hopeless.
Grandma M may be different, sometimes barely the person she use to be;
however, she is still a living breathing soul who deserves love and compassion.
She may not remember the things we are doing for her,
but we are still making memories, for ourselves as well as for our kids.
She is still here, can still talk, can still laugh, and can still hug…
what’s more precious than that in life?

playing at Grandma M's memory care facility.
playing at Grandma M’s memory care facility.

 

Breaking Statistics

Are you a social statistic?

Meaning…

Are you a product of your childhood?

Have you simply became who you are because of the environment of those around you?

OR

Have you became who you are despite the environment you may have been in?

For me, and for my husband, there is a defining difference.

Despite our childhood, we have chosen a better path.

I reflect back to a high school social study class I was taking.
By the statistics shared, I didn’t have a chance as far as becoming a decent person in society.
I remember being offended that my destiny was already defined for me.
By the mistakes and harms of people in my past, I was already condemned.

My family is choosing to break statistics.

Statistics that my husband and I are not only breaking, but shattering…

Childhood abuse:

Physical, Sexual, Verbal, & Emotional…
between my husband and myself, these are the core ones we were faced with as a child;
2 that I dealt with, 2 that my husband dealt with.

The harm produced in our own lives helped us to develop an empathy for such tragic things.
We know the fears, insecurities, anger, & hopelessness these abuses can create.
We also know the answer lies within knowing who Jesus Christ is!
His unconditional love can and will heal all things…in His timing.

So what can we do?
Reach out and love others, just as Christ loves us.

To love… on our moms.
Despite the poor choices they made for themselves when they were younger that unfortunately impacted us, they deserve compassion and understanding.  One needs to look into their childhood to better understand why they made the choices they did (that whole statistic thing ya know).  For us, we have to recognize that Christ was not in their lives, that they didn’t feel loved; that at the time, they did the best they could in the situation they found themselves in.
They already know the mistakes they’ve made; what they don’t know is the strength they had to get through it.
What they need to know is that we very much know how much they loved us despite the circumstance.

To love… on our kids.
This has been a gift for us.  6 amazing kids.
Parenting is a journey,
and I don’t care how many parenting books there are out there,
you get to write your own as you go.
What do you want the pages to say?
In the beginning, we all start out fairly clueless,
and honestly?  We grow alongside our children.

If I were to give one piece of parental advice, it would be…
COMMUNICATION.
Let your kids know why your no is no,
let them know why you reacted as harshly as you may have,
let them tell you how they are feeling,
let them have emotions, teaching them all the while that there is a proper way to handle them.
Let them know they are not perfect, that we are not perfect,
but that there is One who is perfect who loves us unconditionally.

To love… all children.
We have a heart for kids.  What can I say?  They are unique, beautiful beings.
Kids of all ages need to be heard, need to feel wanted, need to be loved.
God cares, they matter, and we intend to give them that message.

To love… the elderly.
There’s a lot to learn from the elderly,
it is only wise to hear what they have to say.
There’s a dignity that adds to the value of life
when we treasure those who have gone before us in this journey called life.

To love… the special needs, the disabled, the ill.
Not to lump everyone into one category,
because they are all unique as specific individuals.
My intent is to draw attention to them for what they offer.
Often you will find beauty, grace, courage in those loved ones who face challenges in things we take for granted.

To love… the lost.
Of course, as a Christ follower, this has a specific meaning,
in which Christ himself says to love your neighbor.
To share hope, to spread joy, to live by faith…
simple ways to live His love out loud.

Marriage & Divorce Rates

I won’t even go into the detailed statistics I read that would apply to me,
but I will share the obvious… both my husband and I were raised in broken homes.
Not just divorce, but multiple divorces in each of our childhoods.
The odds of us getting married and then staying married, I think has surprised a few people.
Me?  I am just grateful.  Grateful that the man I love is still with me.
Thankful that grace covers a multitude of flaws, in both of us.
But mostly, I appreciate that our relationship shares an example of how families can work through tough stuff and that through Christ, all things are possible.

Addictions

Children of addicted parents are the highest risk group of children to become alcohol and drug abusers due to both genetic and family environment factors.
Well, my dad was a drug addict.  My 1st step-dad was an alcoholic.
My husband?  His family has heavy drinkers abundantly in his family genetics; both maternal and paternal.

And honestly?  We’ve each had to face our own types of addictions early on, with hiccups along the way, but at some point a decision is made.  Do we repeat the insanity, or choose a way out?  Did you know God provides a way out of our temptations?  It is not meant to be an easy choice, but rather a faithful one.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Christian kids; Adult faith

Our journey is far from over in the parenting field.  We still have a vast range of ages (although we have past the baby stage 25 yrs into this parenting thing).  One critical thing close to a Christian parents heart is their child’s faith.    We get the honor of nurturing our children in God’s grace, guiding by the Holy Spirit as we go; however, when it all comes down to it, their relationship with Christ is a very personal one.

We can teach them truth, and doctrine, and moral values, and about His amazing love,
but when it comes right down to it?  It is their choice.
A relationship with Christ is personal.
As they become young adults (ie teens),
it does not matter if they go to the same church as us (ie appearances),
or even if they go to church at all (building attendance does not define the heart),
but that they know what they believe and why.

Then the question of truth comes…  will you be a statistic? 
Will you choose to walk away from your faith before the age of 23?

We have one son (25) thus far who has survived and thrived this passage.  (praise Jesus)
We have one son (20) in the thick of it, still choosing to be grounded on a solid foundation. (thank God)
We have one son (17) who is entering this journey with a level head and strong conviction… (hallelujah)

but truly, only time will tell…

What statistics are you breaking?