Tree of Life

My brave husband and I are embarking on a 21-day sugar fast. For a few years I’ve been mentored by Alisha Keeton at Revelation Wellness. Hers is a fanastic ministry that blends spiriutual growth and physical movement. The podcast is a perfect walking/running/hiking/meditating companion. Well this is our 7th day on our sugar fast and I’m quickly realizing I need to find some new reciepies. Simply eating meat and some veggies is getting a little boring. I’m not craving any carbs or sugar just yet but my hubby is very tired of this bland and monotonous diet I’ve spread for us. It does not have to be so boring. I guess I’ve simply not taken the time to look up and try the delicious recipies that are available online. My reason for the 21-day fast is to take the time to ask – what is good for my body right now? And this can lead to ask deeper questions like – Holy Spirit, what are you inviting me into this day or this moment?

So with this first week of being sugar free living under our belt, I’m not taking lightly the opportunities to be encouraged from several diverse venues. While creating this blog post I was listening to a Spotify playlist titled “Top 100 of the Most Beautiful Songs from Reddit”. Moonlight Sonata was played and I remember being a young teen playing the piece with ease. I also used to be able to do the splits and front flips with ease but at 47, not so much. I spent about 30 minutes practicing the first sheet of music and after writing down some of the notes as guides on the musical staff I was able to stumble through it. But it brought me so much joy. I think I might try to add “Comptine d’un autre été: l’après-midi” which looks more like playing the harp on the piano.

As expected, this week has been filed with ups and downs. I’ve slumped into sadness, feeling as though I’m not enough and failing, to reaching for love and forgiveness and bouncing back with even more freedom. I’m not sure if that is typical for a cleansing fast but I’ve been asking for the breaking of strongholds and chains – couldn’t expect that to come easy breezy.

Last night we watched “Tree of Life” and the experience exemplifies the week of high and lows. I loved it and heard wonderful reviews for it. That said, this movie was not a cup of tea for my family (which made me feel a little disappointed that they did not love it like I did), but I was swept away by the aesthetically gripping story of a family being mangled by fear, anger, and emptiness. It spoke so deeply to me that I had a visceral reaction to the movie and experiencing a severe headache and nausea. I took a remedy of Nux Vomica and two advil (which I try not to ever use but I was hurting so badly I didnt’ want to take the time to find the right homeopathic). The father figure was so consumed by the desire to “be something” or “prove his worth” that his family, particularly his oldest son took the brunt of his fear of insignificance acted out in aggression.

Eventually the story of redemption pours out of the screen. There was amazing visualization of the vastness of the planetary universe contrasted with the enormity of the microscopic universe, which we are sandwiched in between. Throughout the movie, characters wrestle with God, asking Him “Are you there?” “Why did you allow this to happen?” “Do you see me?” “Do you care?” The family individually and collectively pursue a connection with God and seek to understand His interaction with those which they love and hold onto dreams they hold dear. I was so moved by the deep fear and passion depicted on the screen. I truly was reliving parts of my childhood and unfortunately seeing myself personified in the role of controlling father, voiceless mother, hungry-for-love son. Actually, they were all hungry for love and seeking fulfilment in their masked identify. Mercifully, my heart was put at rest and ease at the end when redemption was so clearly projected – redemption for the family, its members, and other travelers on this life-supporting speck of dirt as we spiral hurdling through space. I loved “Tree of Life.” I also have a fascination with all Biblical reverences to trees in general and any symbolism I come across is exhilarating.

Joy Clarkson who hosts the podcast “Speaking with Joy“, recommended this movie. Her resources are always so fresh and rejuvenating. I am living vicariously through this young lady’s PhD educational adventures at St. Andrews in Scotland. We will be visiting England/Scotland in April so I’m even more swept away when Joy drops a secret podcast on her Patreon that deals with living on that history-filled island. We are supporters of her Patreon because we love to see young people pursuing their purpose.

Next week I’d like to continue my conversation while sharing some resources on taking good care of our world. And because I cannot wait to share, have you seen “The Biggest Little Farm”? It is amazing and I think you will love it and be encouraged to see redemption of our dirt.

The lake where I walk our Corgi each day – rain or shine, snow or sleet.

Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Shepherds and their Sheep

August 29, 2019

As a young girl I heard many sermons on being used as a tool of God, which sounds good on the surface. Many words were spoken to get the flock serving others around us by being this holy tool. There was little talk about God’s grace, but a lot of words brimming with wrath. So not surprisingly, I saw adults acting as a hammer, sometimes an ax, coarse sandpaper. Shepherds were being trained to use the rod and staff to beat their sheep and shame them into submission.

As a young married couple we moved out of state and to a different community of believers. The first sermons were on the topic of grace. I spent a morning crying in the church bathroom, not sure why I was so touched by the sermon but repeating to myself, “I never knew….I never knew.” Fifteen years in church, five years of AWANA, eight years of private Christian school, and I never knew of God’s grace. I thought it was up to me to be that “perfect little tool” to slap people over the head with scripture and set an example of the “perfect little Christian life”. Hiding behind that mask was a lifeless, sin-filled, totally lost sheep who had wandered away from the flock.

Fast forward to today. I’m a mom of two teens and a grade schooler. We home educate and many times I default into trying to be a tool in my children’s lives. My focus can be on outcomes, behaviors, externals. But again, and again I am reminded through scripture reading, times of worship and retreat, walks, gazing at the wonder of nature, that God is our Good Shephard who does not beat his sheep. He uses his rod and staff to gently guide us, protect us, and keep the enemy out of our green pastures. He does not USE his sheep nor does He desire for us to use others.

1 The Lord is my shepherd , I shall not want . 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures ; He leads me beside quiet waters . 3 He restores my soul ; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake . 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death , I fear no evil , for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff , they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies ; You have anointed my head with oil ; My cup overflows . 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life , And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23

When we view our Father as one who wants to USE, we can infer that we are less than human – a thing to obtain an end. Then we start to treat others non-humanly. We look around and see who we can use instead of connecting with hearts, souls, minds. We manipulate. We put up an image of perfect families, systems, programs as an idol in our hearts. And then we become disillusioned when our “perfect little families” idol blows up in our face. People to leave the faith because of this disillusionment. We feel we gave God A, B, C and He owes us X, Y, Z. This is what happens when we build on our terms. But God’s purpose for creating us was relationship. Relationship means communion. Communion means oneness. I am not at oneness when I’m trying to make someone bend to my ideals.

“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it, for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess he builds. We must proclaim, he builds. We must pray to him, and he will build. We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are the times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point are great times for the church are times when it’s pulled down. It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to his church. You confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough…. Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As we start up another year of home education I can see the results of my former scaffolding falling away, which is so good. I don’t want to live as a tool, trying to shape and mold people into my image. Our family can live in the freedom of following our Shephard. He alone guides our hearts. Many times I believe I’m the reminder of how broken we humans are and how amazing and loving Father is with us. And we pray.

Two resources that have been so helpful in understanding our Father as Shephard are:

“Enjoy the Shephard – Ray Carman” on Facebook

“Scouting the Divine” by Margaret Feinberg. She is also on Facebook. Here is a video from her summer Bible Study:https://www.facebook.com/margaretfeinberg/videos/1748219118565542/

Power in Prayer

Tags

Ephesians 1:15 – 20 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Parenting is humbling. I had great dreams and aspirations when we used the previous verse to dedicate our children to God. At the time it seemed that this would be a challenging road but we would work hard and do our best to lead our children to the Lord. After many years, I’ve sometimes considered myself disqualified from leading anyone to our Savior. At times I’ve joked that my shortcomings are invitations for my children to experience parental imperfection which will drive them to our Father and therapy. But instead of being fatalistic in these relationships, I am reminded of the power of Prayer.

So this is my first month of intentionally praying God’s Word over my family. Instead of harbouring hurt feelings, fear, apprehension, frantic worries over the future and my need to take control because our lives do not look like the pretty picture I imagined in the above verses, I’m pouring all that energy into Prayer. Would you join me in prayer for your children as well? And as we enter into these prayers we pray for ourselves. Our hearts need constant cultivating to stay on The Way. And He generously answers our prayers.

I pray that my children will receive and Love Jesus, commit their lives to our Father and be filled with the Holy Spirit, and enjoy a cherished relationshiop with Him.

Salvation

John 3:16 – 17 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

(I pray that my children will understand how you love them and you offer them eternal life through your Son.)

Be filled by the Spirit and Obey

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Ephesians 1:23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Ephesians 4:11 – 13 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

(I pray that my children will be filled with the Holy Spirit and use their gifting to serve Your Kingdom.)

To Know Who they are In Christ

Philippians 3:9 – 10 I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.

Psalm 9:10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.

Ephesians 1:4 – 8 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Colossians 1:27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

(Show us your heart and your intentions for us and how you are in us. Help us to trust you Lord.)

Cultivating our Hearts

This was my happy place this summer.

Our exceptionally warm and sunny weather gave me ample time to sit on my front porch early every morning to read, journal, grow, and be inspired. We are approaching a different season in which I will need to find encouragement from things other than the sun and leisurely mornings to drink tea and think dreamy thoughts.

So as the new year of schooling begins and plans are underway, there are a few scriptures that come to mind. These ideas fashion the vision for this year. We can take shelter in His words because we know that we cannot survive in the desert of false ideals. In all the advice we come across in the internet about how to homeschool well – we can take to heart what is found in The Word.

GUARD OUR HEARTS

Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart above all else,

for it determines the course of your life.

1 Timothy 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

(In everything let my goal be to live in the Love of God through Christ Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.)

Matthew 5
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Disciples and the World
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

(These words from Jesus speak to me of complete surrender to the life I am living. I have no need to feel insecure, no need to compare my life to others. We are all unique and living the life that God designed before He spun time and matter into being. His beautiful promises are available to us all. And because of our position we can be filled with His Light and Love.)

Matthew 6 25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

(We are greatly cared for and adored by our Father. He knows all our needs. He is doing His work in ways we cannot see and will do more than we can imagine. We can be confident in the Heart of your Father who tenderly cares for us.)

Hebrews 2 16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters,[h] so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

(Amazingly, we are considered the sisters and brothers of Christ. He is able to help us in every aspect of our lives. He suffered and is our understanding High Priest.)

Romans 8:13-15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

(We are God’s children and our spirits are joined to His.)

2 Peter 1 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Because of His kind intention and powerful will, we share in His divine nature and have all we need for living a godly life.)

Proverbs 1:23 Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.

(This tells me that God shares his wisdom with us. He joins are hearts to His.)

I could literally type up all the scripture here because it all speaks or who God is and ultimately who we are in Christ. This journey is His and ours to share. It is amazing how many times little coincidences appear and connections are made when we listen and watch. Spend time looking for the fingerprints of God in this academic school year. Write up the scriptures that resonate with your heart for this coming year. I wonder what splendid stories we will be able to share at the end of the 2019 – 2020 school year?

Surprises Along The Way

We are entering into year 10 of our homeschool journey. I wish I could say that we have been forging ahead on a laser-focused path. It seems we homeschool the way I do life – hopping from one idea to another, looking for the next best thing in an attempt to make the work of homeschooling feel more like play. I tend to experiment with one method or another and end the year with a desire to do better the next year.

In years past, my prayers were too small and short-sighted. This year, 2019 – 2020, I pray for Light and the Power of the Holy Spirit to flood our hearts with His Truth so we walk in deep-seeded belief.

” I have come into the world as light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:46

Shall I tell you the next best thing I found? Ha! I have to laugh because I’ve done this every summer. I spend three months relaxing in Alaskan summers, foraging for ideas, searching for answers. Then I take that research and turn it into a year of big dreams and visions of reinventing my children and our family. Well – I did learn a lot this summer and I do have big dreams. But instead of trying to find a method that “works” for each of my children I’ve been encouraged to read from wisdom. I do this not to find a guarantee or ensure success in our lives but because I truly do believe The Word contains Truth and Life. The outcome of our lives I trust to Our Father. I’ve not stumbled upon anything new. Just as G. K. Chesterton felt he found a New Thing but stumbled upon something ancient, I’ve found the ancient and feel it’s a New Thing.

So thank you to a woman from Ambleside, England for her life’s work to teach us that “children are born persons” and that “education is a science of relations”. Thank you to all the other sojourners who have taken a similar path and let their Light shine before men, therefore bringing glory to our Father. Thank you to a homeschool mom who mentored other moms this summer and invited us to live more fully alive. Thank you Father for providing surprise funding so my family can take a capstone trip to England this Spring after studying about the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation. Your fingerprints are everywhere.

Hiking. They pull way ahead of us now, both ascending and descending. This is Mt. Baldy above Eagle River.
A stellar summer in Anchorage with record-breaking heat resulting in a bumper crop of tomatoes.

2019 Planning: Where Structure Meets Spontaneity

I’ve been reviewing 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, etc., and notice a significantly concerning trend. As mentioned many times in prior posts, my twitch is to look for solutions, purchase books and curriculum, and buy into other people’s view of what homeschooling ideal is the “best”. After many years it appears I’ve taken by eyes off my children and focused them on following Facebook and Instagram feeds. So late last year I completely deleted Instagram and Facebook. What a relief! I feel I can breath again and my children have my attention.

Now that the firestorm of voices trying to sell me an idea or ideal is turned off I have time to calmly walk through our house and see the huge piles of books and papers I’ve accumulated. Extravagant hours and money have been spent to try to become all the things the voices said I and my children should be.  It appears I was trying to use osmosis to learn because we have not actually read most of the books. Instead of taking these years to walk our own unique journey I stopped at a fork at the road and dug a deep trench filled with a varied and deep library that is not relevant to our family. My children stay very busy and curious studying a few select things which gives them time and energy to be curious and discover their own talents.

So as a journaling lover, I’ve decided to put a few rails in the road to help me to stay focused on God and my children instead of the materials. One way I plan to train myself to not twitch into purchases is to go through a real planning and implementation exercise. With the Christmas break I have time to reflect and create. Super fun! So I thought I’d share some images of my journals. This system is birthed out the desire to have some stretching and strengthening in crafting my personal intentions (I like that word so much better than “goals”) while also being able to use my personality and creativity to track and implement my intentions.  

Cultivate What Matters Powersheets. I have ordered my 2019 set.

Wild Simplicity Daybook. I use this as a prayer, passion, and vision board journal. 

Traveler’s Journal. I use this leather-bound book which house three budget booklets.
Cultivate What Matters includes a monthly Tending List to guide my days and calendar. This was my 2018 January list.
This inside glimpse shows you the gem Lesley Austin handcrafted which she lovingly calls her Wild Simplicity Daybook. I use this handcrafted earth-thoughtful beauty to house two vessels. The first booklet is a Diary which I use as a vision board and a place to capture the highlights of my learning for the month. The second booklet I use to keep track of my days. I purchase these items from Lesley Austin on Etsy under SmallMeadow. Her shop is napping right now for Christmas but she will be placing more of her offerings after the new year. I am also a member on her online haven Wisteria & Sunshine. You can sign up to join this sanctuary at anytime.
In the Diary there are several interesting sections that invite planning and intention setting. I like to take the blank pages provided and add clippings from magazines to add some focus and interest. It is always interesting to me to see what pictures land in the book and the words that land on those pages. I also have other lovely journals where I write prayers and verses as led. My children know that a gift of a journal will always be perfect.
This Book of Days, also from Lesley’s shop, will be the vessel to hold my daily and weekly schedule. My priority list and special notes have a home to the right and bottom of the weekly calendar spread. Isn’t it so pretty and simple?
My traveler’s notebook has a small booklet where I can plan the week’s meals and create a sticky note shopping list. I don’t assign a meal to a particular day but make a list I can choose depending on our mood or fancy.
A cute folder in the Traveler’s notebook gives me a place to put my receipts for the month. And this Susan Branch calendar serves as a vision board of the artistry I’d like to continue to create and will be used to track weekly food and miscellaneous expenditures. I suppose writing in a pretty calendar will help motivate me to stay focused on my weekly budget allowances. I’m hopeful that if I focus on the purpose God has for our family and not spend all my time and money resources on finding the “perfect” ideal that I will be doing my family and big favor. 

This simple and creatively inspiring journaling process will be helpful in keeping my intentions. Deeply rooted into the Cultivate What Matters yearly journal and the open-ended Daybooks are the expectations that flexibility and changes will need to be occur. I can make changes along the way but all the while checking in with my heart and seeing where the Lord is leading us.

Have a very Merry Christmas.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him. (AMEN!)

Philippians 2:13

Abundance or Scarcity?

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

Philippians 4:8

I joyfully read the book, “Rabbit Hill” by Robert Lawson to my three children during Symposium (morning time where I read things that are like mental and heart whole foods). I loved the rich language. The endearing animals were so sweet and also mirrors of our tendency to be nervous and occasionally pessimistic in our circumstances.

Now. Spoiler Alert! 

The ending shook me. The New Folks leaving an alter for the animals to eat from with abandon, providing clean water, with a saint to watch over them was not what I expected. I expected that the people would allow a certain level of foraging from their garden but with limits. But the New Folks created a ready-made banquet for the animals which in turn made the animals respond with treating the garden as holy ground.

Could viewing life from a perspective of being completely cared for with abundant resources within our grasp rid us of relational conflict? I left the reading talking to myself:

“Do I put out poison, traps, roadblocks, barriers to give a false sense of protection and control?” Yes. I see many attempts to manage life and it does seem to create division resulting in an attitude of me vs. them.

“Is there any place where I intentionally set up banqueting tables and is there a positive result from this? Yes. When I really talk with my children, put aside a rigid form of philosophy and focus on caring for their hearts I see life and connection.

“Is this truly a Godly principle?”

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever

Psalm 23 NLT


We Are Connected

We have been to the hospital every day for the past two weeks. My father-in-law is fading and we are looking for an extended care facility to help him with his needs. Many details of preparing for the future and helping to unburden him of his generally unremembered possesions have landed in our lap. We went through a small model of this three years ago when my mother-in-law passed away. 

After Thanksgiving dinner my three children, husband and sister-in-law drove over to the hospital to visit my father-in-law.

The biggest event of my day, other than undercooking the 22 lb. turkey, was our unexpected meeting with Virginia. The first time we saw Virginia, she was fixing her baby doll’s hair and using markers to color pictures. Because we have been to the hospital every day for the past two weeks we have seen various stages of Virginia’s experience there. We have noticed that she has no visitors. Usually her expression is vacant. Sometimes we hear her yelling at the nurses. 

We had just been in my father-in-laws hospital room, catching up on the day’s events, searching his eyes and words for clues on his physical and mental condition when we heard a commotion across the hall. Virginia was having one of her episodes of noncooperation. Each nurse who approached her was quickly pushed away by her violent words and attitude. Then Virginia looked across the hall and made eye contact with me. Huh oh. Well, I smiled and tried to be pleasant. I guess it worked because she smiled back and started walking into our room. Huh oh again. She introduced herself, apologized for the intrusion, and expressed that she was needing to come into our room to find her clothes which the “bad people” across the hall would not let her have. So what could I do? I invited her in.

My conversation with Virginia drifted toward her life in Alaska, her pug dogs, and the tree pendant she was wearing. In the meantime the nursing staff was trying to lure her out of our room but she would not have it. She wanted to stay put and sat down in the room’s wheelchair. She mentioned how sweet the girls looked in their dresses, which she had commented on at a previous visit when we passed by her. She apparently notices pretty dresses. She wrapped her silver hair in a colorful scarf and expressed her creativity by tying up her hospital gown unconventionally. When I mentioned that her tree pendant was something I really admired because of the verse that says we can be like trees planted by living waters she said, “See, when I saw you I knew that.” We are all so connected.

We chatted a bit more and she again apologized for coming in as she was trying to find all her clothes that people had hidden from her. It was then that Virginia’s countenance changed and turned into tears. Through her sorrow she expressed that she was not a bad person and she was so sorry. All our hearts went out to her. I tried to console her and reassure her she had a good heart and was loved by many people. At the same time I was concerned for her emotional outburst occurring in front of my father-in-law because he of his own struggles – a body that has him jailed to a hospital bed and mental weakening. Since his stroke 15 years ago, heart surgery 8 years ago, losing his wife 3 years ago, this once stoic man has changed into a person who experiences unhidden and unapologetic emotion. We are all so connected.

Virginia calmed down, the awkwardness in the room slowly lifted, and eventually a nurse was able to get Virginia to move on. She apologized again for coming in and said she hoped to see us and the girls again when we came to visit. I hope we do see her again and maybe she will remember us. In her sweet mind she is adorable. In distortion she is fierce. We are connected.

Tonight I noticed that Virginia’s dolly is tucked into her bed and the pictures she colored are hanging up in her wall. My 8-year-old daughter does the same thing. We are connected.

As a homeschool family I can become concerned that during this time our “school” time is very light. But these real life experiences are heavy and weighty and what really matters. I’m so glad they were able to experience reaching out and showing care for people in distress. We don’t need to run away. We can sit in discomfort and thankfulness. Be connected.

Homeschooling Minus the Headache or Heartache

I’ve noticed an interesting connection. I look at my neighbors, community, state, nation and the world and see everyone is unique and beautiful but I do not have any compulsion to copy their day-to-day life. I don’t ever look at other people’s lives and think, “Wow! I need to copy everything you wear, the house you buy, the food you eat, the car you drive.” But I will do that when trying to select homeschooling curriculum, schedules or philosophies. I wonder why I put myself into that box? Why would I think that of all things our best learning would come from copying someone else? 

I certainly like to consider reviews and recommendations. But when it comes to my children’s education, trying to follow in any particular person’s footsteps does not seem natural to me. Maybe some personalities and families feel considerable trust and assurance by following? It could be that my personality of enneagram 4 or INFP likes to be wild and free?  Ultimately I return to the path that leads to peace and rest. I know that when my thoughts are saturated in fear and unmet expectations that I’ve wandered from our signature adventure.

Limitless Hugs

Our life and times are connected. I believe there is an inherent knowing that is passed from one generation to another. This little hug from one person to another to say “I see you and I love you”. Decades ago our sweet Grammie – the sweetest lady who ever lived – painted this picture of this sweet kitty.  When our little Rachel was 6 years old she miraculously convinced daddy to get our little Snowflake. Coincidence?  I don’t think so. I believe Grammie was able to sense into the future and painted this kitty. She did not know it but her creative expression was an offering of a limitless hug. This connection makes us feel close to her even though she’s been gone from us for three years. We love her. And she loves us.

Cat painting
Snowflake

I would also like to state that our creative Rachel hopes to one day open a coffee cat shop where people can come to sip her delicious coffee and have an opportunity to adore and adopt a sweet kitty. Did Grammie had a sense of this as well? Maybe.