Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Legacy > Personal Freedom

Let Freedom Ring.  Freedom isn't free.  Freedom to obey. On the other side of fear lies Freedom.  Freedom means I can do what I want, that I can spend my life as I will.  "Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." George Orwell.  Freedom is being you without anyone's permission.  Freedom is a state of mind.  America is saturated with ideas of Freedom.  Freedom is what we think we want, even if we can't agree on what it means.

Mothers have the true 24/7 jobs.  Our kids are in our minds in nearly everything we do.  We don't really have vacations since either the vacation is with the family or we wonder what's going on at home if we are so fortunate as to have a girls' weekend.  The job of mother doesn't stop after an 8 hour day.  Even when we sleep, we have every chance of being awakened in the middle of the night. We get little instant, or even soon, gratification or results of our work. Being a mother requires surrendering one's own personal freedom for the sake of others.

The older Jewish Exiles who were deported to Babylon after Jerusalem's fall knew they most likely would not see their homeland again.  Perhaps only their grandchildren would.  They had to make a choice as to how they would respond.  Would they "grow in bitterness toward God or see the bigger, eternal picture?" (Treasures in Darkness, Sharon Betters)  The eternal picture.  What is the eternal picture?  How do we as wives, mothers, and women live with a view of the eternal picture.  To see the eternal picture is to understand that our "legacy for the next generation [is] more important than [our] personal freedom." (Treasures in Darkness, Sharon Betters)

Our legacy: what do we leave our children?  Do we leave them with the belief that they or God is the center of the universe?  Do we show that we believe that our lives are "a platform designed by God for the purpose of glorifying him?" (Treasures in Darkness, Sharon Betters)  What is the Freedom we are showing them?

If you are anything like me, you don't like your schedule interrupted or the time you consider your own taken from you for other things.  But what I really want to show my children is that the ability to do what I want when I want is not as important as living for others.  I want my legacy to my children to be that their mother served God, whether it was cleaning toilets, reading books, teaching them, or paid work.  I want my legacy to be that I didn't need instant results or rewards but that I left the results and rewards to God.  I want to show them an unselfish spirit, a spirit that knows that true Freedom is doing what brings glory to God.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Christian Mortal Combat*

*Note: I do not take credit for this phrase.  All credit goes to John Piper, whose book When I Don't Desire God; How to Fight for Joy had the phrase and has been very helpful to me.

This post is not meant to be a book report, but an encouragement to those who are struggling with joy in everyday life.  John Piper's book has been a source of encouragement to me, and I hope he won't be offended if I pass that encouragement on (and in the course of that encouragement, recommend the book).

Most of us who are wives, mothers, or any woman who has something or many things in her life that drain energy, have many demands on our time and energy.  So probably the title of my post makes one of you want to say, "More fighting?  I already have to battle my toddler who has far more stamina than I could hope for."  I don't mean that kind of fighting.  I mean the kind that requires complete and utter dependence on God, the kind of battle against our "besetting sins" and "bosom enemies;" the battle for joy in the Lord and in the life He has provided.  I mean the fight to keep your mind and heart on God, to stay in God's Word, to stay in prayer.

If you struggle like I do every day in these areas, let me encourage you to take time out of your day to read your Bible, pray, cry, whatever you need to do.  If you think adding a time to be alone with the Lord is just one more thing to add to your list, let me encourage you to evaluate how you spend your time.  What TV shows do you watch?  How much time are you on Pinterest?  Perhaps take time to list everything you do in a day, a week, a month, and then evaluate what is most important.  Be ruthless in your evaluation because eliminating some less important things will give you more time for peace and quiet with the Lord.

Only then can you have true peace and joy in your soul-even when you've just been beaten by your three year-old.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Homeschooling with Classical Conversations

I know it's been a while since I've posted, and I'll try to be better about that.  However, I have two part-time jobs now, and I'm still homeschooling.  So my time is very limited.  The part-time job I've taken on recently is the subject of this post.

I am now the Director for the Foundations/Essentials Programs of a Classical Conversations group.  If you've never heard of Classical Conversations, the best way to get details is by going to  In this post, I plan to give a small overview and a plug for homeschooling with Classical Conversations ("CC").  (Let me say in advance that this curriculum may not be a fit for your family.  You must look at your options and your family's needs and make a decision yourself.)

CC may look overwhelming to some people at first because of the vast amounts of information they have, but in my reality, it has freed me from the shackles of being overwhelmed by what to teach and when.  For younger students, ages 4ish to 9ish, the main point is to memorize information, and CC makes it easy with weekly information and many songs.  The curriculum covers all subjects required by the State (at least in our state of Georgia), with the exception of Reading.  (The parent must still choose a reading curriculum, or, to make it easy, just READ--every day.  If your child can't read, read to them.  If your child can read, have lots of free reading time.)  What is freeing about this is that there's not the pressure to finish a full curriculum, to learn so much in a short period of time, to have a too hard or too easy curriculum for their age.  The child and the parent are free to learn at their own pace.  And as the learning is done over time, there's less push to learn it all at once.  As they get older, more is added with their age and ability.

Along with the freedom CC offers in its classical style of learning, it also offers a very thorough curriculum of History (a timeline from Creation to September 11, 2001, history sentences about various events of world and American history), Math, Latin, English Grammar, Science, and Geography, along with Fine Arts.  All the information is broken down into manageable chunks, so it doesn't have to be overwhelming.

CC Groups meet once a week for 24 weeks out of the year, 12 weeks in the Fall and 12 weeks in the Winter/Spring.  At the meetings, a Tutor goes over the weekly information, and the children do science experiments and Fine Arts.  Each child does a "presentation" (which in the younger years amounts to Show and Tell) in order to learn to speak and to be a good audience.

So if you are looking for an option for homeschooling, CC might be worth a try.  You can go to the website and find a community near you or feel free to contact me via this blog.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pagan Hands of God (Thus Says the Lord to His Anointed. . .)

My last two posts have been less than encouraging, I think, so in this post and in others to come, I aim to give some encouragement as we enter the dark days ahead.

I want to encourage you by bringing to mind what God has done in the past.  The following is an excerpt from a devotional I wrote for our church's missions conference last March.  I am always encouraged when I read Isaiah 45 because it makes perfectly clear, from a prophetic and historic point of view, that GOD is the one who controls all of history.  Isaiah 45:1,3: "Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed. . . that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name."

I was born in 600 B.C. When I became King of Persia, I subdued nations, diverted waters, and claimed treasures and hoards in secret places.  When I conquered Babylon, I became aware of a group called the Jews who had been taken into exile by the Babylonians.  They worshiped one God, and as I had no attachment to any local god, I allowed them to return to their home and generously gave them money to rebuild and restored their temple treasures.  Mine was the first World Empire.  I was Cyrus the Great, "king of the world, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world."*  I have since learned the now-bitter truth: that Men, not excepting kings, do not do their own will.  The One True God, the God of all mankind, He, for the sake of His servant, Jacob, called me by name, though I did not know Him.  Ignorant as I was, I still did His Will: I spread His glory.  Down through the ages before and after me, others, in their ignorance and rebellion, spread Jehovah's glory.  The King of Egypt who enslaved the Jews finally learned that the God of Moses "is God."  The Romans built roads that crossed the known world, and by those roads, the Message traveled.  For over 200 years, Roman emperors tried to silence Christianity but only succeeded in spreading the Gospel further.  The Gospel continues to spread even under the Iron Hand of Communism.  No world leader can politically dance around God. We are His tools; we have been and will be His hands, spreading His Glory, fulfilling His Sovereign Will, often without acknowledging what I know now: that "He is the the LORD, and there is no other."

If Cyrus the Great could not escape being God's hand, why do we think our Supreme Court or our President can?  Do not lose heart.  Though we wish we did not live to see such times, we can be assured that the Lord is moving, working, and His Plan will be accomplished.  Now, do not forget that what His Plan is may not be what we think it should be.  His ways are not our ways.  But He will not forsake or forget us.  He does not slumber or sleep.  He hardens and softens hearts.  Nothing catches Him by surprise.  Remember Gideon and his 300 men.  Remember David and Goliath.  Remember Shamgar and the 600 Philistines he killed.  Remember Deborah and Barak and how, though outnumbered and battling against weapons far beyond theirs, God through them won the victory.  Remember Daniel, when God shut the lions' mouths.  Remember Jonah's storm, great fish, vine, east wind, and worm which were all appointed by God for a purpose.  Remember the Magi whose belief led them to help keep the baby Jesus from Herod's murderous plot.  Remember those who "were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection."

I'm not going to say it's going to be easy, but looking at God's work in the past can help us to remember that we are all part of His great tapestry, His story of redemption, His great plan for His own, beyond-deserved glory.

*From the cylinder of Cyrus the Great

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Different Perspective on the Supreme Court Hearings; Part 2

Very well.  The United States Supreme Court has spoken and ordered that gay marriage shall be legal in all 50 states.  Franklin Graham says we need to prepare for persecution if we are going to stand by God's Law.  I agree.  I'm not a prophet, but I can read the writing on the wall.  Now that the Court has made it's law (not that they are supposed to make the law, but that's another story), what happens next?  Will pastors and Christian non-profits who refuse to comply and marry homosexual couples or accept them as part of their organization with full benefits be subject to investigations, fines, charges of hate crimes, or anything of the like?  We have to wait and see.  No one knows how this will work out in practicality.  Religious liberty has been trumped by homosexual rights, and we'll have to watch the game play out.

So what do we do on a practical level in response?

If you are a Christian judge, I think you are going to have to make a choice:  keep your job and marry homosexual couples or give up your job.

If you are a Christian business owner whose industry is directly involved with the wedding industry (florist, baker, photographer, etc.), you too will have to make a choice.  Will you obey the law and serve customers, even the ones you don't want to serve for religious reasons?  Will you refuse to serve and take the punishment that comes?  Will you change businesses?  I won't say that serving a homosexual couple is wrong; this is simply a matter of your choice as to how you live out your faith.  I will ask one question:  How do you know that the customer you are serving isn't a sinner?

If you are a Christian pastor who believes in the Word of God and that homosexuality is wrong, you may have some choices to make, too, depending on how this works out.  If the government leaves pastors alone and lets them choose whom they will marry, you'll be alright.  If the government informs you that you must marry anyone who asks you, no matter their sexual orientation, you now have a choice.  You can refuse and take the consequences, or you can acquiesce.   There may be another alternative, though.  As Christians, our marriages are not just legal by the State.  We do that for the purpose of taxes, benefits, etc.  Our marriages are vows taken in God's sight.  When we choose to marry, we do so because that is the path God has ordained for us.  As a pastor, you can say you will not perform marriages that will licensed by the State.  You can still perform the ceremony for those who want a Biblical marriage, but the couple will have to have a judge perform the ceremony for it to be legal with the State.  I don't say that's a great state of affairs, but it's workable.

As ordinary Christians whose business does not fall into this realm, this may not directly affect us for a while.  However, we may be shunned and disenfranchised when our beliefs are known.  We may even have investigations into our taxes by the IRS regarding to what organizations we donate.

I'm going to repeat something I said in Part 1, partly for encouraging my readers.  Since when has God promised us that practicing Christianity was going to be easy?  The Lord promised us trouble in this world (John 16:33); He promised us that the world would hate us (Matthew 10:22).  But He has also overcome the world.  We, painfully for us, are in that plane of existence that is between the "already accomplished" Kingdom and the "yet to come" Kingdom.   The State can take away our religious freedom as we know it, but it can NEVER take away our freedom from sin that we have in Christ.  There is absolutely nothing the State, the Supreme Court, the terrorists, no matter how powerful they may be, can do to undo or change what God plans.

Dark times are in store for us.  But as Gandalf said in The Lord of the Rings,  "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."   I say we "[keep our] conduct. . . honorable, so that when they speak against [us] as evildoers, they may see [our] good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."  (I Peter 2:12)

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Different Perspective on the Supreme Court Hearings

Let me just say before I get going that I love my country.  I love the freedoms we have had that have gone beyond anything the world has ever known.  I love its beginnings in freedom of religion and Christianity.  I love that we have had the freedoms listed in the First Amendment.

However, I want to take a little time to say something that has been brewing in me for a while.  I was reminded of it recently when I received an article about the ongoing legal case before the Supreme Court regarding homosexual marriage.  (This is not going to be a political post, so don't worry about that.)

Since when has God promised us that practicing Christianity was going to be easy?  When did we Christians start thinking that the privilege of living for the Lord is to be bought for a song?  Don't get me wrong.  I cringe at the idea being uncomfortable or persecuted or having any more of my money taken by the government in taxes.  But the Lord promised us trouble in this world (John 16:33); He promised us that the world would hate us (Matthew 10:22).  The very fact that the world hates us is a sign that we might just be doing something right.  If the world didn't hate us, then I think it would be an indication that we are compromising too much and are not different enough from the world to be in line with Biblical precepts.

So is it possible that the Supreme Court decision could do more than simply allow homosexuals to marry and could put churches and other religious institutions in danger of losing their tax exempt status?  Is it possible that we are at the end of the religious freedoms we have enjoyed for so long?  Is it possible that we will have to choose between what is right by God's law and what is easy or what will keep our taxes low?  Yes, of course it's possible.  But the early church never had those freedoms, and even Constantine's legalization of Christianity did not give the freedoms we have now, Believers around the world do not share the freedom of religion, but Christianity grows even under the iron hand of Communism.  What we do have is freedom from sin and from the fear that the world can outwit God.  There is absolutely nothing anyone, no matter how powerful, can do to undo or change what God plans.  He has overcome the world, and that will be fully realized when He returns again. Until that time, the Lord will provide, even if our taxes are raised, even if our churches lose tax exempt status, or even if our contributions are not tax deductible.  Jehovah Jireh will take care of us.

Now, as far as I know, there isn't a human on earth who knows all of God's plans.  From a comprehensive reading of Scripture, one can, however, postulate that God will do what is part of His plan of redemption, for the spreading of the Gospel, and will do what brings Him glory.  Down through the ages, one can see where even the "bad" things have been tools to spread the Gospel.  For example, the Jews who were part of the earliest Church after Pentecost stayed in Jerusalem until they were forced out in what is referred to as the Diaspora.  This took the Gospel out of Jerusalem and into the rest of the world.  The Assyrians and Babylonians accomplished God's discipline of Israel by taking them into captivity, and the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great accomplished God's plan to bring Israel back to the Promised Land.  The descendants of those who remained behind in Persia were possibly those from whom the Magi learned about the Messiah.

Please don't misunderstand.  I'm not at ease with what's happening in our country today.  I can be terrified sometimes of what is happening, and that's because I do like my creature comforts and I don't like pain.  I shake in my boots when I read or see examples of the decline of our culture of freedom.  But I don't see anywhere in the Bible where it says that we will have a Republic with all its freedoms or a capitalist society with all its worldly wealth.

I don't have all the answers, but I know that we need to pray for the broken world, pray for the spread of the Gospel, give for the spread of the Gospel, and go spread the Gospel.  That is the one and only hope for us and our world.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cruise for Two

My husband and I recently went on a cruise for our anniversary.  I'll be honest; I had and have mixed feelings about it.

So here are some tips for those of you who are considering something like this.

As parents, you should take time away.  It's very hard for some of us.  I was okay for the first couple of days, but as time wore on (it was 6 days, 5 nights), I got to where my thoughts were caught up in what was going on at home (Were the kids okay?  Was my mother, who was taking care of them, okay?  And the major one: how selfish could I have been to spend time and money like this?)  I got to where I couldn't wait to be shot of the boat on which I was trapped. However, time together as a couple is important for a solid, lasting relationship.  Maybe, however, if you've never taken a vacation together since having kids, start with a smaller time frame than we did if you are prone to guilt and worry.

A cruise is a good way to relax without pressures.  One only needs a clock to get to shows (or dinner if you choose the main dining room) and back on the boat after shore excursions.  If you are smart (and I saw many who weren't), you will turn OFF your phone.  First of all, getting away from technology is GOOD FOR YOU.  Second, if you don't have an international plan, you can get smacked with phone charges.  Most cruises have many options for leisure; everything from relaxing by the pool getting skin cancer (my husband's favorite) to rock wall climbing and other sports.  You need do nothing for yourself, other than haul yourself around this floating town and eat and drink.  Bars abound (I think there were about a dozen on our ship), so if you like drinking, you are all set.  Our boat had a buffet three times a day (for several hours each time), packed full of food of all kinds, not to mention the main dining room, room service, and other eateries.  So if you like eating, you will be in hog's heaven.

This brings me to point about money.  A cruise can be a very good deal for a vacation, PROVIDED HOWEVER, you don't saddle yourself with extras.  A $12/person per day gratuity is automatically charged to the credit card you are required to provide at check-in.  You can tip on top of it, but don't feel obliged to do so.  Coffee, tea, water, and some flavored waters are provided in the dining areas and are included, as is the food in the main dining room, the buffet, and room service, in the price of the cruise,  Sodas, bottled water, and alcoholic drinks are not included.  They will try to sell you a beverage package.  This is only a good deal if you plan to drink more in a day than would cost you to buy individual drinks.  For example, on our ship, the Premium Drink Package, which was for cocktails, beer, wine, and bottled water, cost $50/person per day.  Cocktails cost anywhere from $7-12 (give or take) each.  If you were to drink more than five or six a day, you might be better off with the package.  If you just like to have one drink or so before dinner, you would be wise not to buy the package.  Some cruises will allow you to bring two bottles of wine per stateroom, so if you think that's all you'll drink, do that.

Shore excursions can be pricey, so depending on where you go (and research it ahead of time), you might want to stick with a bit of shopping or sightseeing within easy access of your ship.  With shore excursions, you will also have to be at a set place at a set time, and as you have to be back at the ship by a certain time, you will need to be careful about how long your excursion will take.  With shopping, I recommend checking with your credit card company about fees and exchange rates and let them know you will be out of the country (or wherever you will be) so that your card doesn't get canceled by the security department.

A cruise is an excellent place to meet people from all over the world.  That, to me, was the best part of it (besides not having any responsibilities).  Our ship had approximately 1,200 staff from 62 countries.  Passengers, too, are from all over the U.S. and from other countries.  We met people from Romania, Ukraine, Italy, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Guyana, St. Martin, St. Lucia, Macedonia, the U.K., and others that I don't remember.  We met a Mormon (they apparently prefer to be called LDS-Latter Day Saints) couple from Utah.  And, no, the husband did not have more than one wife (at a time-this was their second marriage each).  It was absolutely fascinating.

As you will have several days of no kids and no work, you do have to do something with your time, even if it's just catch rays.  My husband and I have very different ideas of what it means to relax, so we did a lot of things apart.  I was not to hyped on the pool and laying out with crowds of people and loud music, as my husband was.  I liked to find a quiet spot to read or just look at the ocean.  The very forward part of the ship had a helo pad with benches where few people came.  It was incredibly windy but beautiful and quiet (well, quiet meaning few people).  I also wasn't into staying up all night at the lounges listening to the bands.  Some were nice, such as piano music one night (He even played Floyd Cramer!  Anyone besides my parents and me remember him?); the R&B band was good, but I could only take so much of late night drinking and music.  I liked to curl up in bed with a good book.   My point is this:  talk to each other about what you expect regarding spending time together.  If either of you does it all your way and drags the other one along, you won't both enjoy it.  If you spend time apart, one or the other might feel slighted.  Talking it through beforehand will help, though perhaps not thoroughly do away with, any resentment or bad feelings when all is done.

All in all, it was a good time.  But the best was returning home.  I needed a break, but I realized how great my busy life is.  I don't do well at doing nothing (family trait - I got scolded by the Boss for working too much the day after we returned, when he said he would take the lead for the day), and I learned how much I love having times for work, times for play, and times for rest.  I also learned I can do without my phone without withdrawal.