Category: Family

One Way Ten Years of Homeschooling Has Paid Off

I’ve cried more times than I want to admit about this whole homeschooling thing. We’ve been doing it for ten years and each year has different tears, different fears, different joys.

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It’s not easy. It’s not always fun. It challenges me and bothers me.

There have been years I’ve gotten so close to chunking the whole idea and sending them to school so mama can get a break.

I’ve never done it.

The guilt bag would be too heavy.

But, I can pack a guilt bag for anything. Not teaching them enough. They aren’t getting all they need. They won’t have the great memories I do. I’m a slacker. My schedule doesn’t look like hers. They aren’t going to be smart! They’ll never read!!

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Ten years of wondering if I’m doing the right thing, while knowing I am. For our family, this is the right choice.

Ten years of looking at them in pajamas working on English and Math.

Ten years of taking long winter breaks and stopping school on a crisp, spring day to go play outside.

Funny thing is, I have twelve more years of this. And it will be my joy.

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Then, last night, at Perspectives, a young mother of two comes up and with anticipation and some fear in her eyes, she starts asking me about homeschooling. I want to stop her right there and say, “Oh honey. Your babies are two and 7 months. Come back to me in three years.” But the look on her face said “Help!”

She shared with me her own education and how long she was in school to get a doctorate for a job she now hates. I could sense she didn’t want that for her kids. Also, there is a growing chance that she and her husband might pack up their little family and move to a foreign country to take the Gospel of Jesus out to the nations. That country won’t have class parties and PTA boards. They will have to do it.

This is where her wide eyes spoke to me saying, “I don’t think I can do it! How will they learn? I’m not able to teach them!”

I assured her an email was coming full of encouragement, links, and resources to start helping her bring her heart rate down and sigh some deeps sighs of relief. She hugged me and already seems to be relaxing.

Then it struck me…

All these years, all these years of tears and joy, anger and bliss, frustration and victory, I never once thought that my choice to teach my kids at home might be a catalyst of peace for families who are considering leaving the States. 

If you grew up in the public school system, it gives you the sense, because we know no other way, that if you don’t put your kids in the system, they will miss out on something or they will lack in something.

This simply isn’t true.

If you choose to not use the public system of education, then you have a wide open field of choices as to how you will educate your child. The resources available to you are so plentiful, it can actually be overwhelming. The support around the nation, and I’m sure, in your own community, is important and prevalent.

If you choose to uproot your family and leave the States, the choice to come out of the public school system is now no longer a choice. You’re leaving. Maybe where you’re going has it’s own system, but what about the language? What about the actual system? What about the environment? What if they don’t have a school system? What if you’re going remote?

Home education can trigger a whole new level of panic.

Home education outside of the States for missionaries can trigger not only a panic, but a burden that seems overwhelming.

This should not be.

I realized that my ten years of doing what I though was just for my family might be of some comfort to those leaving. That sweet mom at my class last night was reaching out to someone a decade ahead of her for confidence and assurance.

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And I was able to give it to her. I was able to look at her and say, “You two can do it. You’re more than able and there is so much support out there.”

I was able to look at someone and give her assurance that her children will be just fine and she is more than capable of educating them. More than that, she and her husband are more than able to look beyond an American definition of education and give their children lives full of a Spiritual education that only they, as their parents, can give them.

I never dreamed that my years at home would one day be the confidence a young mom would need to take one more step to becoming a missionary.

Never think that what you do isn’t for His glory or someone else’s benefit.

What an honor to serve His servants this way. 

I Don’t Want My Kids to Be Their Best Self

IMG_7653Counter-cultural title isn’t it?

Sounds like I don’t want my kids to be awesome and amazing and stand out and be successful.

Truthfully?

I don’t.

In a society where the best rises to the top and the others are left scrambling trying to gain altitude with those we see as successful, I, as a parent and someone who follows Christ, have to step back and ask, “Is this what the people of God should also be about?”

Should we be telling our kids to be the best version of themselves and go and be successful and “you can do anything you put your mind to’? 

I guess, if in the context of an American Dream society, that sounds pretty good.

However, in the context of people who believe in a God greater than them and has His own plans, those statements do not fit.

Let me clarify some things. I do want my kids to be successful, society contributing individuals that are secure and strong, loving and gracious. However, I do not want my kids to believe that they are the center of their universe and that their gifts and talents are a gift to the world.

I want them to know that the best version of themselves is the less version of themselves. Here, and only here, can they be available to be the best broken vessel for Christ.

 

What I want my kids to understand is this:

They are the “light of the world.” Not their own light, but a conduit of His great and marvelous light that brings people out of darkness. Their “light” is not their own. Matthew 5; Phil 2:12-16; John 1:3-9

They have access to the Almighty God who hears them when they pray, not just for their own asks, but for an intimate relationship with Him so that they know their role in His story, know His heart, and have the fullness of the Spirit. Matthew 6; John 17:3; Ephesians 2

Their humility leads to His greatness in them. A model of humility makes a greater impact than talking about it. These things I want for my children must first be what I want for myself. John 3:30

They are filled with the Holy Spirit to know Jesus and to have all they need in Him. Not for just giving them a sense of a better self, or that He died so they feel better about themselves, but so that they are a whole being, ready for their calling for His kingdom work, brave and true to the Truth. 1 Corinthians 2

There is no dream of God’s put in them that doesn’t not first give and bring Him all the glory, and second, would make them think they had the power to do it in and of themselves for their glory and success. 2 Thess. 1:11

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Their life might not be so easy in the Church here in America as the years pass. Our concept and easy way of doing life here in America could see it’s last days in their lifetime. They will be equipped for a dark world and not ill-equipped because I inadvertently made them think this life was for their benefit and comfort or that I didn’t take what is happening around us seriously. 2 Tim. 1:8-12

Their weakness and failings are not something they should try and remedy. I’m not saying they should wallow in sin and weakness and be big, fat babies about stuff, but we tend to believe that if we have a weakness, we should get rid of it.

 

“Citius. Altius. Fortius.”

“Just Do It”

“If you believe, you can achieve”

“Be all that you can be”

The Word of God teaches to get rid of sin, but boast in weakness. That takes some training to know the difference between the two. One (sin) is covered by the blood of Jesus, the other (weaknesses) are empowered by the Spirit of Jesus to be and do what we cannot be and do ourselves. This is a far cry from being our “best self” when our “best self” is ridiculously weak and sinful. The more I teach my kids to rely in faith on the Holy Spirit to do and be all they need, the less they will work for themselves.
1 Thess 5:23; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Romans 8:26-27

When they spend themselves on behalf of others and not on themselves, they will find wholeness and healing. When the majority of their time and thoughts are about alleviating the suffering of others and not pacifying a need for more stuff or recognition, then they will know the heart of God. Isaiah 58

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These are just a few of the things I see that is very counter-culture (even in the Church, albeit I think it’s not been on purpose) that I want my kids to know and understand and live out. I can be caught up in a world that says I deserve things and should have things and that if I have faith I will be wealthy (okay, some of this stuff is on purpose in the church), and that I should get what I want and be who I want and be the best at all of that.

This is not what Christ taught or even emulated.

This is not what his disciples taught or emulated.

This is not what the early church lived or perpetuated.

We have a gift of a great country (America) that has been given the gift of wealth and influence, not for ourselves to make castles for ourselves and drive the best and wear the best, but we are the extension of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12.

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

As the people of God, our blessings as a nation, but more importantly as a church, a wealthy and powerful church, we have been blessed to bless. We have been blessed to humbly give to the world the gospel of a great and gracious God. To teach our kids anything less, is to be counter-productive in the Kingdom and irresponsible with the Truth. 

To teach our kids these things, we, the parents, must live them first. These things I want for my kids aren’t always played out in my own life. May His mercy and grace train me as I train them. May we all ask God to show us His ways over our own, His culture beyond our own, His plans and goals, His heart, and then, ask Him to help us leverage the blessing so that He is glorified and the nations are stunned with His majesty.

We get a lot of stuff wrong, we get a lot of stuff right, and the more humble we are to the Word of God and the indwelling Spirit, the more powerful and effective we will be in this world.

 

He must become greater. We must become less. 

 

 

 

 

So, You Don’t Have a Tragic Story. Me Either.

1984 6th grdI’ve heard it preached like a million times and it goes something like this:

“Jesus uses the talentless, the forgotten, the screwups, the marginalized, the poor, the least likely to make his kingdom grow and expand and to take his gospel around the world. He will use your weakness and the little you have to offer for himself.”

Something like that.

 

And I always cringe. I want to adjust myself in my chair and I try not to look around because I know people are looking at me because they know.  I kinda scrunch up my face and begin to feel a sense of “Well, looks like I’m out of the game.”

 

Now, before you think I think too highly of myself, I don’t. What I mean when I feel like “I’m out of the game” is that I grew up in a upper-middle-class home on the north side of the city. I went to the “rich” schools and got poked at by my friends on the south side because I was “rich.” My parents are Christ followers who love each other and are approaching 50 years of marriage. Being raised by them was both fun and easy. I have two siblings whom I love and have more good memories with them than bad. I wasn’t bullied. I never had want for money. I had plenty of food and clothes. I had more friends than I could shake a stick at. I cut my baby teeth on the leather Bible cover and the back of the wooden pew. I was never abused or hurt. I was never lonely. I didn’t go without normal pains like friends hurting my feelings, or loss, but I don’t have a tragic story that has left me feeling like I’m a nobody with nothing to offer.

Quite the opposite. I was always told I was a somebody, dearly loved and valuable, full of talent and could be or do whatever I wanted. I was set.

 

 

While I heard that preached many times, I also heard this:

“You’ve been given gifts and talents by God. Some are in your nature and some are spiritual gifts to you by the Holy Spirit. Now, we need to discover those and God will show you how he can use you to advance his kingdom! Go and make his name famous. Do something! Do something great in those talents God has given you. Be strong! Don’t let your weaknesses stop you!”

Got it.

So, God uses the ugly and untalented and least likely, but then he wants to infuse us with talents and make us awesome warriors for the kingdom so that we are strong for him, but be sure to keep your weaknesses close so that you stay humble, but be strong in your talents and gifting and make sure you are taking time to hone those in so you can do a great work.

I’m getting mixed messages here.

Out of one side of our Church’s face we preach that you don’t have to be somebody to do something. In fact, the worse off you are, the better it will be for you in what you will do for the the kingdom. Out of the other side, we couple that with the elevation of the most talented and the most dynamic and and then they, in turn, tell us we don’t have to be somebody to make a difference.

What is going on?

Which is it?

A nobody or a somebody?

 

I know, I know, I get it. But there is still the feeling in me that I’m at risk at being the least compassionate, the most Pharisaical, and the least like Christ because I’m not the broken, abused and marginalized person.

Preachers do not mean to do this. I know. But, it’s very much a thing. And those of us who have been raised the way we have with little tragic tales to tell, begin to feel like we won’t be as effective or as used as others. We get the sense that we won’t understand or won’t connect. And, you’re right. I can’t really connect with a woman who has come out of prostitution or has had an abortion or has been raped. I can’t relate to parents who abandon me or a husband that has walked out. I don’t have the tragic story marked by a redemptive meeting with God. I have some tragedies, but my life isn’t marked by a life of trouble and heartache.

 

I got saved at nine years old at church camp. We all did.

 

But, here’s what I do have.

I have a story of a woman who has testimony to what a family looks like who has been devoted to Christ for generations. I have testimony that when the “perfect” family, or life, has a tragic moment, we cling to Jesus, and to each other. I have testimony that when I chose a life of sin, and I had known the Truth my whole life, God is still in the business of forgiveness and redemption. I have testimony that generations can love and serve a great God for the advancement of His kingdom. I am living proof that the generational blessing is a real thing and I can point to a family tree, though not perfect, that has deep roots, firmly founded in Christ. I can tell you it works.

Stay true.
Stay steadfast.

I can tell you the Word of God is true, and even though I might not be able to sympathize with you, I know a God who can, and does. Even though I don’t share the exact same story, I understand grace, and love and forgiveness. I am a living testimony to the great Word of God being taught from one father to the next and then to his children and that the years in church and Bible college have armed me with the Word of God, rich and deep, for my life and those lives around me. It has saved me from more sin than I care to remember that I even thought about committing.

I am proof that though I don’t fit the bill of the “least of these” and the marginalized, I am still someone in desperate need of a Savior, who saves me from my pride, and a million other things. I am willing to give my all to God, and use both the talents and gifts he has given me, and the failing of my human weaknesses so that he may be glorified.

 

We are all in this together. We have all fallen short.

You, with the shattered life story, you are desperately loved and Christ wants you to be filled with him so that his name is made famous in your life.

 

You, with the pretty story, you are desperately loved and Christ wants you to be filled with him so that his name is made famous in your life.

 

Jesus hung out with a blue-collar hot head, a dirty government tax man, a greasy betrayer, prostitutes, and status seeking brothers. But, he also hung out with a Pharisee, a good man who loved God, but had some questions. He had a doctor write two of the books of the New Testament. He saved a well-to-do, dyed-in-the-wool Law abiding man (though a murderer thinking he was doing the right thing), and made him one of the most famous ministers of the gospel the world has ever known. Rich and powerful women advanced the gospel with their generous giving. Prominent men and women, those we don’t know their stories, made it possible for the gospel to march it’s way through the world.

The rich, the poor, the lonely, the one with the awful story, and the one with the pain free story, we all need him. We are all loved and used by him if we are filled and desperate for him.

Your story is yours.
Mine is mine.

But, both of ours plays a vital role in his

 

To God be the glory.

Depression, Control, and Thanksgiving

IMG_4260Thanksgiving this year is nestled in the hills just outside Chattanooga, TN. Windy. Cold. Our little cabin pops and cracks as it allowed the wintery breeze breach its thin walls. Our Christmas music sings through the cabin while a fire lights the main room. Little feet run across the wood floors and up the stairs. Laughter fills the house.

It’s our first Thanksgiving, just the six of us. We didn’t travel back to family, we just took off in the other direction to have our own family vacation. JT and I are for real grown-up’s, making a vacation memory for our four children. We have a hard time being okay with this idea, even if there is no way around the fact that we are now the age we remember our parents being.

My oldest is in the kitchen working on the mashed potatoes. My second born and third born are upstairs giggling about something silly on the phone. My son and JT are playing video games in the other room. I sit here, looking at a fire, listening to it all happen and am thankful.

This season does nothing in me but bring me happiness and cherished feelings of being a kid. I can feel the warmth of my house, the yellow hue of the lights, the safety in my parents room. They created a home that left me with memories I want to return to in my dreams. I am praying all of this is the same for my four kids.

I didn’t feel like this the last few years. This is our fourth Thanksgiving in Tennessee, and probably the first I am truly content.

Year one: felt like a vacation. My family came to see our “new” lives.

Year two: vacation feeling gone. Thankfully, we had great friends to share this time with and my parents came over for it.IMG_4245

Year three: Between year two and this one, I had sank into my deepest depression, wishing, crying, wanting to move home. It was the worst of my season here. But, also between these two years, we had moved again, back into Nashville after being outside of town, and life was much better. My family came back up to Nashville and it was so full of life and joy!

Now, year four: a cabin in the woods. My heart is full, my weight is down, my kids are healthy and happy, JT is on a new adventure after quitting his job at Crosspoint, and I have learned to let go the perceived control I had over my life.

That was the underlying problem of all my depression and heartache, I wanted to control my life. I wanted to lay down the path for the history and memories I wanted. Me. My life, my plan, my dreams. But, I have learned a most valuable prayer…

“Lord, I realize I have the responsibility of _________________, but I do not have control. I have the responsibility, but you have all the authority. I surrender all to you again, today.”

This, this has become a prayer, a daily surrender of the grip on whatever I want to control. It doesn’t relinquish my responsibility to whatever He has given me, but I do not have to carry the weight of feeling like I am in control. Jesus was very clear about this:

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?…your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6

It’s not a matter of feeling the sense of “not worrying”, but a matter of obedience. Jesus said not to worry. Either I do that or I don’t. Simply stated, not simply done. However, I must. We must. If He said it, we have an obligation to obey it. But, not in our power. We relinquish even our own power to not worry. We surrender our “control” over our emotions and dive deep into the presence of the Spirit of Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. We “give up” our control of trying not to control, and bow before the Creator in reverence every day, surrendering all that will fit in that blank up there.

Therefore, we are thankful.

We are thankful for what has passed.

We are thankful for what will come.

tree1We are thankful that we do not have to worry and are, in fact, told not to. We do not worry because the Father knows what we need. He knows that if and when we seek Him first, everything we could possibly worry about will dwarf and shadow and fade in light of His grace and love and purposes. When we are surrendered to the Spirit in us, complete abandon, waiting on Him, trusting Him, believing He is working regardless of how we feel, we have peace, we have joy, we have “all these things” given to us.

And we are thankful.

What do you need to put in the blank? Your marriage? Finances? Health? Children? Work? Surrender and thank Him for His great presence and His faithfulness!

 

“Lord, I realize I have the responsibility of _________________, but I do not have control. I have the responsibility, but you have all the authority. I surrender all to you again, today.”

 

 

 

 

D6 Main Speaker Tidbits…. Come on, read them.

Conferences. You love them or hate them. But regardless, there is always something you can walk away with. A nugget. A gem. An “oh” that makes you sit for a minute and think about it. That happened at the D6 Family Conference in Louisville, KY… a few times (which, buy the way, is a beautiful drive up from Nashville at the first of fall.)

This conference was so Christ focused and so encouraging, without teaching all about gimmicks and ways to improve whatever might need improving, that I would HIGHLY encourage you to go next year.

 

From some of the main speakers at D6, here are a few things you can put in your pocket, log away, and store up for both working in the Church and raising a family.

Emerson Eggerichs: known author and speaker on the topics of male/female relationships and family dynamics. He developed the Love and Respect Conference. Here’s his little gold nugget from his talk.

  • Talking of raising small children and our capacity to “lose it” with them, he told us to remember that we are keepers of little people with little spirits. It’s our responsibility to keep them well and safe. Little people. Little spirits. That is a precious thought.

Lysa TerKeurst from Proverbs 31 Ministries talked about finding “us” in the rush of life.

  • Maintaining who we are in the midst of it all in Christ is of vital importance. When your children fail, a good bit of advice is to hold them close before you hold them accountable. The danger is to snap (which we do) and to bite them with the obvious issue. Her encouragement is for us to be close to them before we have to hold them accountable.
  • Something else she said that was beautiful in regard to letting God be God to our kids is to also “be brave enough to let God write the testimony of your children.” Such an amazing thought.

Check out Larry Fowler from Awana and Kidzmatter for remarkable stats on Children’s ministry and the actual numbers of regular attenders. You’ll be surprised.

  • According to Fowler, “the average church child will spend as much time in media consumption in two days, as he or she will get in church in an entire year.” Find out how he knows at this informative download at Awana.

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Tony Evans joined us Thursday night with some plenty of wonderful things to take to heart. He is a best-selling author and frequent speaker at Bible conferences. He is the senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, and the president of The Urban Alternative. Here are a few of his words.

  • Raise your children in such a way that they adopt a divine standard of righteousness.
  • God created family to replicate the image of God.
  • Family is the advancement of His Kingdom for the replication of His Kingdom and Image.
  • The next generation can plug into us in such a way that the Master is duplicated in them.
  • Raising your children around the dinner table is of utmost importance.
  • And finally, he asks us, “What kind of stamp will you put on your kids and the nation?”

Kyle Idleman of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY came Friday morning. Not only did he impress us with his ability to say all the books of the BIble in one breath, but also gave us some breakdown insight to Luke 9:23 about denying ourselves to follow Jesus and not to ever forget our primary message is the Gospel of Jesus.

  • That Gospel is ultimately an invitation that needs to be accepted.
  • The idea of passionate pursuit of Jesus in the words “come after” in Luke 9, were more often used in talking about a young man coming after a woman. Those of us who want to follow Jesus can think of it in these terms. To passionately pursue Him.
  • When a father came to talk to Kyle about a wayward daughter, the father said something that stuck with Kyle, and with us. He said, “We raised her in church, but we didn’t raise her in Christ.” The church is no replacement for the relationship with Jesus that we can lead our kids in.
  • When talking about the phrase “deny yourself” Kyle said, “You can’t say yes to Jesus without saying no to yourself.” Ouch. Toes.
  • And finally the word “follow”. He boiled it down to it being all or nothing. We sometimes like to balance this life, family and spiritual lives, but Jesus calls us to abandon everything. It IS all or nothing.

Sissy Goff and David Thomas, with Daystar in Nashville, gave us amazing parenting tips.

Sissy started with these:

  • Discipline is an extended and carefully managed event, not a sudden, spontaneous personal reaction to the behavior.
  • Moms tend to be too emotional and use too many words. (what? us?…no.)
  • Help your kids self-regulate. Meaning, give them a choice and then accelerate consequences. Like, “You can get your homework done before bed, or you give me your phone.” If homework isn’t done, you get the phone. Which means…
  • Follow through.
  • Let the consequences and one liners (“Try that again.” “I love you to much to argue.” “When we both take a few minutes, then we talk.”) do the teaching.
  • Move on from the crisis and help them move on as well.

David followed up with Being a Balanced Parent:

  • Balance support: too much support limits growth.
  • Balance emotions: emotionally charged moments = mistakes.
  • Time outs aren’t just for toddlers. Many times parents need to be okay with just taking 10-15 minutes to calm down. Go walk outside. Sit in your room and take a breather. Both parties should do this.

And finally, Brian Housman, author and speaker, gave us a lot to think about as leaders and our own desires for those “15 minutes of fame.”

  • This generation has core values of Image, Achievement, Fame and Popularity. The whole nation was changed with the coming of “American Idol”. Each kid was then told they could be famous. With the pop culture that has YouTube and Vine, kids search for those “followers” to make them feel seen, noticed, and accepted.
  • We adults have also fed that need with our own pushes of our Facebook pages, Instagram, and things like Linked In. We too want to be seen and noticed. He is saying that we can buy into it too. Yes. Yes we can.

He talked about the Fame Tipping Point and how to know when you have tipped over from a truly humble approach to the world and the name of Jesus, to our own need for fame. He said “There should be a tension there.” Here’s a few ways to know if you have tipped the wrong way.

  • When your public image has outgrown your private character.
  • When you expect people who know you in private to treat you like those who only know you in public.
  • When self-promotion has passed gospel promotion. If it can’t be about Jesus then it’s not about anything.

 

With these powerful reminders and teachings we were left feeling charged, empowered, loved, and encouraged to keep doing what we are doing, and work to do things for God’s Kingdom as we lead our churches and our families.

Check out D6Family and register for next year’s event!

Filtering the Feelings. I Need Your Help

I don’t want you to bash your kids. That’s not what this post is about. I just need some advice. I’m trying to filter my feelings and desires and determine if they are warranted or not.

Lemme s’plain.

I love my bedroom. I love the way it feels and looks. My little escape, if you will.

Here look.

Here is my parental dilemma: my kids love to hang out in my bedroom. They love reading in there and wrestling in there and watching movies in there. All is fine.

but

somedays… I wish they wouldn’t.

I’m struggling with wanting my room to look nice and pristine all the time and taking from them some potentially great memories. I’m not saying they don’t ever get to play on our bed, but most of the time, I really don’t like walking in there and seeing my “stuff” messed up.

Now hear me, I know I can enforce the “clean-it-up-when-you-leave” but let’s be honest, they just don’t do it like I do. 🙂

Part of me says, “Ok, this is the only room I really care that they don’t mess up.”

The other part of me says, “Come on. They won’t be here forever. There might be a day you wished they were playing in your room.”

What does a mom do?

The Pain and Joy of Life’s Fires

When I was a kid I coulda swore we went to Yellowstone National Park every year. At least, it feels that way. There are no words to express the sheer love in my heart for that part of the country.

We’d start packing a few days before. I’d get a suitcase, lay out different outfits with matching tube socks and underwear. I’d find my shirt/short combo’s and pile all the “stuff” I needed for the trip: colors, pens, books, stuffed animals. I honestly can’t remember hearing my mom ever say no to any of it. I’m sure she did, but somehow, even packing was magical.

Mom would get the ice-chest ready for all the times we didn’t get to stop and load up on junk food at each and every gas station. The night before, we’d start loading the Conversion Van we used from Dad’s company with pillows, blankets and 8 tracks of Neil Diamond and John Denver, because everyone knows you have to listen to “Rocky Mountain High” when you are actually driving through the Rockies. (Which reminds me, I must remember to download that song for our own trip next year to the Great Park.)

My parents always wanted to load the car and leave at the ungodly hour of like 4:00 am or something. Suited me. Dad would pack the car and gently lift my total of 60 pounds from my bed, carry me out, and place me into my chosen seat- the captain’s chair closest to the double doors. We were loaded and out of the driveway before the sun came up. I remember opening my eyes just a little bit when I could sense the sun was peeking over the horizon. The car was warm, my parents were in the front with their coffee steaming from their cups, and the world was perfect. Yellowstone was coming.

The drive took days. Who cares when your eight? It was a wonderland every time we got out of the car. Could have been Amarillo, but it was a new and exciting place to buy beef jerky! The landscape began to change more and more from what was normal to me, with flat lands and wide open fields, to hills that counted as mountains to my Oklahoma eyes. The air would begin to change. Cooler, harder to breathe. We were climbing. Yellowstone was closer.

The Rockies still take my breath away. One year, when I was much older, we actually camped outside, in the mountains. We were surrounded by hills and trees and there were no other humans. Antelope danced on the adjacent hillside. We froze our butts of, but hey, we were camping in the Rockies. And never mind the fact that we had to pull a Bear Grylls with Asp tree trunks to literally lift my dad’s Jeep out of a hole when we went “exploring.” Three women on the end of a tree trunk can most certainly get a Jeep out of any situation.

Back to when I was younger. Our conversion van was heaven itself. It had more buttons than the Space Shuttle for all I knew. The seats could swallow you whole and it had mini-blinds and curtains! Our home on wheels. I could stand up in and walk to the front for one more snack or to find my shoe before we stopped to go to the bathroom. We could plug in our massive Princess Leah hair-sized headphones and sing Sweet Caroline at the top of our lungs. We’d play the alphabet game until Dad finally let me win. We’d write down how many different state car tags we could find. Wyoming was become more prevalent. Oklahoma was no where to be found but on the tail end of that sweet van.

After hours of Neil and John, after hours of naps and laughter, long after the wonder of The Vacation had left in the driveway back in Oklahoma City, there it was…the East gate into Yellowstone. My secret love.

I looked at everything. I breathed in the pine. I gasped for breath. I loved the warm sun on my face in the brisk wind. It was so quiet.

There she was…Old Faithful. She was beautiful. The Lodge. I could have moved into the lodge. Thousands of geysers that were both stinky and fascinating drew us in as we walked the endless planks. I tried not to picture myself falling in.

Bison and black bears. Moose. Raccoons. Deer.

We walked on hiking trails that I just knew had never been walked on before. Never. I was the pioneer. No one had see what I just saw.

We “discovered” waterfalls and ice cold rivers. We walked under the protective arms of giant pine trees. It was so quiet in there. So safe. We found wildflowers that could decorate a Queen’s palace just fine.

And there was always the gift shop. The buildings were made of pine logs and decorated with heads of moose and bison. The floors were always wood so they had that sound that said, “You’re now in the wide open country where we all wear cowboy boots.” Tennis shoes didn’t sound near as cool as cowboy boots did in those places. My parents always let me get a sweatshirt. One year, I found a rare treasure– a braided copper bracelet. I wore until it broke in half. Sad day.

Yellowstone belonged to me. No one loved it as I did. No one thought it more beautiful. No one’s heart broke like mine did when I saw the footage of the great fire. I just knew Yellowstone would be gone. I knew it!

But it wasn’t. It isn’t. It’s designed to regenerate.

I recently saw a National Geographic story on Yellowstone. The commentator said that in 25 seconds of being in the flame, the resin on the pine melts, the cone expands, and seeds fall to the ground. No more than 25 seconds or the seeds burn. No less, or the resin won’t melt.

25 seconds is all the forest needs to regenerate. God designed it that way. Made me wonder, if God can be that faithful with fire in Yellowstone to produce new growth and new life, then when I’m in the fires of life, He knows just how long I’ll need to be in it to produce new growth. It might hurt, but there is new life after the flame.

 

Fun at the Park

The Final Member

I would say that the day began like any other day, but well, that just wouldn’t be true. The day started very early, like 5:00 AM early and that is most certainly not like any other day. I only get up that early for sick kids and to catch a flight, but never would I say, “Oh, let’s get up early and go have a baby.” Now, make a baby might be a different story, but now I’ve said too much.

Ahem

The night before, we enjoyed a little bit of just the five of us one last night.

A little gigglin’, a little basketball, and a lot of love.

I joined in too…. a little bit.

Next day, 5:00 AM rolls around and I roll out of bed.

Shower, breakfast, coffee, finish packing hospital bag…

We drove to the hospital holding hands and wondering what the day would bring. We arrived and got settled in Birthing Room 14. The hospital was quiet like it was wanting to welcome us warmly and without causing any fear or anxiety. I liked it.

Undress, ugly gown, kept my bra on because I need something to be normal, get in the bed, wait.

My Doctor came in to see if I had progressed. Alas, I had not. My nurses were just behind her, Erin and Melanie. Erin assured me that Melanie was great with IV’s. Oh swell, a trainee. She did a great job, if someone can do a great job on an IV. One stick down…one more to go.

Saline bag, Dextrose bag, Pitocin bag…

We got all those nifty bags flowing through my ever pregnant self to see if we couldn’t get Pierce to come on into the world. Contractions started soft and normal. I had to pee… a lot. At the beginning, life was pretty calm.

I still had my good hair, a smile, and no pain.

Even had time for a funny. This is me “pushing”. Um, y’all, that ain’t EVEN close!

Time passes, contractions increase, funnies, jokes, and Twitter sort of wear off, anxious to get this done.

Around lunchtime my sweet kids showed up. I was so glad to see them. Their sweet faces were full of excitement as they came in the room. Piper had her “hospital box” full of things to do while she waited. Paige dressed up a little, and Phoebe told me she had washed her hair.

Other family members were there. They came, went to eat, came back….waited.

Around 3:00 I decided it was time to call for the epidural. Of course, Dr. was in surgery. 4:15 he shows up with his nifty cart. He rolls his cart behind me and I turned my head away not wanting to see anything on his nifty cart, thankyousokindly.

Anxiety increases, hubs holds my hands, I pray out loud, “Big stick.”, ohmygranny!

Soon, he is putting the epidural in and I’m just breathing and keeping my back nice and round for him. I think hubs was doing the same thing.

Dang, he missed and hit a vein. Back out the epidural thingy and try again. ThankyouJesus, he got it that time.

Anxiety increases again, lie down, “I think I just peed myself!”, “Um, no, your water broke.”

Now things were moving. There was about 45 minutes that involved my eyes being as big a saucers, anxiety off the chart, and me telling JT that I was certainly going to die. There was no real evidence that I was going to die, it just seemed like that is what was going to happen. Turns out, I was in full-on labor. Interesting.

Dr. shows up around 5:15 to find my nurse ever so sweetly massaging my cervix. Ah, how kind on a stressful day to have your cervix massaged. Thought for a minute there my nurse was going to deliver this baby.

5:30, bed prepped, legs at the ready, hubs on one side, mom on the other, time to push

and push

and push

and push

breathe………..

and push

and push

You get the idea. 12-15 of the hardest pushes I have ever had to do in the three deliveries of this nature. I actually broke a sweat. I used to tell my girls, “Bah, the movies make it look worse than it is. You don’t really work that hard and sweat like that. Sheesh, I never did.” I’ll be eating those words now. For the life of me, I have no idea how women do that without The Juice in their back. Didn’t feel it, but work my tail off to get him out. And here he is…

Labor and delivery would not be complete without Apple products.

Holy Smokes! We have four kids!

WELCOME

JONATHAN PIERCE WITCHER

7 lbs 5 oz

20 inches

Precious

Humanity

I raise people.

I feed them.

Play with them.

Admire them.

Adore them.

They bring me challenges. They offer me laughter. They teach me things about God that I wonder if I would have ever learned otherwise. They cause me to look at my weaknesses and dare to change.

I have things.

Things I read.

Things I admire.

Things that get dirty.

Real things.

Real people things.

Blue candles that show signs of torture.

Oklahoma Today. Great state. Great reads. I feel at home.

The “W” that symbolizes our home, name and future.

Grass on the floor. Evidence that I have activity and chaos.

Little red books. Who doesn’t like little red books? They make me happy.


A stack of Better Homes and Gardens with a pic of me and my siblings. We had an incredible Home, but no garden.

Dreaming.

I have people.

I have things.

Each of them touch me in different ways.

Each of them remind me of God somehow.

I love being human.