hello again!

Life is full of surprises–some good and some simply awful not so good. The last six months have been challenging and honestly something I’m not quite ready to write about here. Needless to say most everything is not the same as it was in my last post. I am not able to home educate in this season of my life. I haven’t been sure what to do with my little corner of the web so I have been prayerfully considering what to do next.

That being said, I have truly missed blogging but I have spent time wondering if it’s needed. There are millions of wonderful blogs in the online universe, so why is this necessary at all? The answer is simple–relationship.

I have made wonderful connections with women I never have met in person. We have shared burdens, prayed in faith, done happy dances and challenged in love. It’s made me a better person and I want to continue to cultivate that with more and more people.

The new tag line sums up the fresh focus: crafting a beautiful life. As women we touch so many areas and this blog intends to address a variety of areas in an easy way. Beauty inside and out (with a crafty twist) is the order of the day.

10 things you may not know about me

I’m getting back to the BPA alphabet I promise. But here are a few random things you might not know about me. Share any of these?

  1. In another life I would be an archaeologist. Digging up the past is simply fascinating.
  2. I adore tiny homes. Oh my goodness they are so compact and efficient and cozy.
  3. I can play the drums. I taught myself when I was in nursing school. I never play anymore though.
  4. Light blue is my favorite color. it has been for years. I can’t get enough of it!
  5. I hate being cold. I never complain about summer heat because I despise winter’s cold so much.
  6. Cleaning out the fridge is my least favorite chore. Ugh. Enough said.
  7. I am left-handed. Most things I do as a leftie, especially things the are precise like writing, shooting and using a knife. I bowl right-handed though.
  8. When I was growing up I wanted 7 children. I’m not sure why but it sounded like the perfect number. I have four children and I’m perfectly okay with that even number.
  9. I am an introvert. Being alone re-energizes me. I enjoy people but crowds really sap my energy.
  10. I enjoy singing. Especially in choirs and ensembles. Harmonizing is really fun and I have an ear for it.

Do you have a similar list? leave a link in the comments!

Benefits of home education [for mom]

We often hear about how homeschooling is best for the student. Home education is also great for the mother-teacher as well. Here are just a few of the ways:

time with your children

In my opinion this can’t be oversold. Time with your children should be something you desire to find more of. This seems to be the reason many parents choose not to homeschool–they will have to be with their children all day. I have never understood that sentiment. If that’s the only reason you don’t try homeschooling then let me encourage you to rethink this idea.

you are always learning

Home educating parents are always in school themselves. Learning and exploring alongside your children is one of the greatest homeschool joys, I believe. You don’t have to know it all right now. Taking time to learn together is a wonderful way to bond as a family.

forging relationships

Meeting and praying with other parent-educators forms a strong bond. Finding like-minded parents and children is an important factor in the success of home educating families. It is really difficult to “go it alone,” and with the internet it’s now easier than ever to connect and create life-long friends.

building confidence

Home educating parents are constantly setting goals (and hopefully seeing them through). Looking back over a year, or a semester, is rewarding. You can see how far the homeschool students have come and where you need to go next. Accomplishments such as teaching a child to read are methodical milestones a parent can look back on with pride. This builds confidence that bleeds over into every area of life.

ensuring your desires for your children’s education are met

There is no competing worldview or opposing force vying for your child’s heart and mind. Also you are able to focus like a laser on what you think is important for them to learn. You can also be sure you deal with challenges and giftings as needed.

If you could write this list, what would you add?

Words can mean so much

Ann has a splendid tradition of naming each new year. Last year I started that little exercise as well. You can read about that word here.

This year I have been carefully searching for the perfect moniker for 2012. It’s not an easy task, to be sure. Something about the process seems weighty and significant and it’s easy to become paralyzed as the word lies just out of reach.

Last year lives up to it’s name. I expect this year to as well. My word for this year is

Salient.

Salient–standing out conspicuously : prominent; especially : of notable significance

It is my aim this year to focus on the salient in my life, to always pay closest attention to the things that are most important and significant. It’s not easy to do in this world where everything—even the trivial—seems urgent and important.  I pray God will help me filter the salient in my life and place it prominently before me.

By shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don’t we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all. What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.                       Romans 3:31 The Message

Caution: human under construction

It was in a nursing theory class a couple of weeks ago. It was another in a long line of Power Point presentations on theorists and their ideas. (I know, you probably had no idea nursing even had theories. Just stay with me.) We were discussing a particularly weird interesting theorist when the words popped up on the screen.

Human Becoming Theory

Hmmmmm. Not human being, human becoming. It took a moment for it to sink in. Her idea is that we are all growing, so becoming is a better word choice than being. I am quick to acknowledge that not everyone is growing, especially spiritually. But hopefully most of us are.

There wasn’t much I agreed with in her theory, but this is something I can really embrace. I like to think of meeting other people as a snapshot. People are a movie but all we get is a snapshot. If I see someone who’s not agreeable I think, well maybe they are struggling with something. It’s so easy to judge people in a second. No one wants to be sized up like that. There’s not much room for kindness or forgiveness that way.

I am a human becoming. I pray I am becoming–more like Jesus. I pray as I grow up in Him that I am less like my old nature and that I live as I have become a new creation in Christ.

And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

2 Cor 3:18 (The Message )

7 wonders of the [homeschool] world

I know there are a lot more than 7 wonders, but I tried to narrow it to 7 themes that all others would fit under.

1. Reading. Teaching your own child to read is the first step on the road to lifelong learning. I call it the Golden Ticket. In my opinions it is the greatest gift you can give your children outside of salvation. And you can do it all by yourself (with some good phonics books).

2. Graduation. You homeschooled your own child. They made it. You made it. And you didn’t need a school system to pull it off. That’s pretty wonderful.

3. Affordability. It’s not expensive to educate your child yourself, unless you choose to spend the dough. It doesn’t take $4000 per child per year to educate your child. Score.

4. Individuality. There’s seemingly no end to this one. Individuality of lessons, religion, methods, children, diets, schedule etc. are but a few ways that you can customize each child’s learning experience. This is wonderful, not spoiling. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn in such an environment.

5. Rabbit trails. When something interests your family you can swerve your lessons right into it. You can’t do that in a classroom setting

6. Camaraderie. You are able to form close relationships with own family, a “values in action” exercise because your children see how you live day-to-day.  And home educators are a tight knit and friendly community. No one is more willing to share wisdom, information and materials than homeschoolers are.

7. Seamlessness. School and life are not separated, they are celebrated. All of life becomes learning and all the world becomes a classroom.

What’s on your “seven wonders” list?

Charity brings: kingdom

This is part three in my series on charity. (Here are posts one and two.)

Webster defines kingdom as “In Scripture, the government or universal dominion of God.” This is the kingdom I am referring to–God’s kingdom.

I’ve heard it said that love is the currency of heaven. I think it’s more like the air. Where God is, love is there. God chooses not to exist without love. We cannot live without His love.

Your kingdom is built on what is right and fair. Love and truth are in all you do.

Ps. 89:14 NCV

When we extend our hands to the poor we bring God’s love to earth. We bring His kingdom here.

You will be doing the right thing if you obey the law of the Kingdom, which is found in the scripture, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

James 2:8 GNT

Charity, or love, enables God’s kingdom, His government, His way of doing and being right to exist right here with us. Charity opens the door to Heaven on earth.

Sell what you own. Give to those who are poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out. Put away riches in heaven that will not be used up. There, no thief can come near it. There, no moth can destroy it.

Luke 12:33 NIrV

That’s where we belong–in heaven. That’s where our true possessions should lie. Charity brings His kingdom to us and us to His Kingdom. We are moved by what moves Him. His agenda is ours. We strive to please the King, even to our own discomfort. Love begins to motivate us to do more, to reach higher and to advance His kingdom.

Government is, in a nutshell, “who or what is in control.” I want to always choose God’s government over my own. My own government is lazy and self-serving. His is generous and full of unselfish love (charity). He is patiently waiting for us to prefer His government, His kingdom, so heaven can visit us here in the everyday.

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

Mt 6:9–10 NKJV

Charity brings: emancipation

This is Part Two in my small series on charity. In installment 1 I provided a definition of “charity” from Webster. Charity is used in the King James as a word for love.  As we practice charity a beautiful thing begins to happen in our own lives: emancipation.

EMANCIPA’TION, n. The act of setting free from slavery, servitude, subjection or dependence; deliverance from bondage or controlling influence; liberation; as the emancipation of slaves by their proprietors; the emancipation of a son among the Romans; the emancipation of a person from prejudices, or from a servile subjection to authority.

Webster’s 1828

We are free from fleshly desires. Setting aside our desires is difficult. Maybe a reason bigger than ourselves helps us do that.

We are free from sin’s hold. When we love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves, as the two Great Commandments say, there is little room for sin in our own lives.

For charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8 KJV

We are free from trappings of the world.  Be warned: charity can cause a loss of personal possessions. Stuff is not as important as people. Meeting the needs of others is important, even if it means meeting them with your own stuff. People know love by meeting basic needs first.

Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.

Deut 15:10-11 The Message

Seeing others through the lenses of charity we are free to see others for who they are (Webster notes freedom from prejudices).   And we are free to do the same for ourselves. But most of all we get a new perspective on who God is. If we can be charitable, how much more charitable is He? (see John 3:16) We stop picking and choosing who we will help. We seek out the unlovely—in all forms—because that’s where the hurt is.

Add…to brotherly kindness charity.

2 Peter 1:7 KJV

We are free to hope. It’s wonderful to have the hope you give others offered to you in return. When you see freedom in action you cannot help but be filled with hope.

For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. 

Galatians 5:14 The Message

I am not saying that we love so we can get something. These are simply a sacred by-product of charity. God set it up that way and I’m so glad He did. It’s beautifully summed up in this passage:

Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never – I promise – regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

Luke 6:31b-38 The Message

Charity brings: healing

I have been meditating on charity and this is the first in a short series about my thoughts.

According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, Charity is:

CHARITY, n.
1. In a general sense, love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men.

It brings healing to the giver. It’s a wonderful way God made it to work. Somehow when we give love and give out of love we receive love in return. Maybe not from the source we expect, but it does happen. When we give out of our need our need is met.

It also brings healing to the receiver. The warm salve of love heals. It binds up broken hearts. It creates a soft place to fall. It restores and nurtures and blesses.

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love – love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God.

1 Tim 1:8 The Message

Charity invites healing to all involved. When we prefer one another, “thinking favorably” about our fellow man, the door is opened to restoration. Allow God’s love to flow to another person through your actions and through your deeds. Love without strings shows others that we belong to Him and points others to Him.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

Col. 3:14b, 15a NIV

Benediction

BENEDIC’TION, n. [L. benedictio, from bene, well, and dictio, speaking. See Boon and Diction.]

1. The act of blessing; a giving praise to God or rendering thanks for his favors; a blessing pronounced; hence grace before and after meals.

Webster’s 1828

Many people offer thanks before eating. That’s common enough. But Webster suggests something more in his definition. Something more beautiful even than a prayer of blessing.

Saying Grace after meals? Who does that? I can honestly say I have never heard of doing that until I read Webster’s definition. But it makes sense. Think of the ten lepers that Jesus healed (Luke 17). Only one returned to say thanks. Only one offered his grateful benediction after his provision of healing was supplied.

Am I quick to offer my benediction after my needs are met, or do I just pray a  desperate prayer and then run off like a happy child with an ice cream cone when the moment has passed?

I like to try and write down things that I am thankful for in a notebook so I can recall them later. It’s another opportunity for benediction. For pouring. For quiet communion.

Paul understood this idea of benediction. His letters end with a lovely benediction and encouragement to the believers he is writing:

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen.

Jude 1:24,25

May my life be a continual outpouring of thanksgiving unto my God. My my days end in benediction and peaceful praise, for He is most worthy.