Thursday, April 30, 2009

Misery Loves Company

But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
Isaiah 57:20 &21
It can be so hard to watch people that we have cared about turn away from any sense of biblical lifestyle. A biblical lifestyle they once declared as the only way for them to live. These same people who cried 'christian'
(and continue to do so) but choose to walk in the world's ways instead.
True, that is hard to watch anyone from church family walk away. However, it is even harder to see them pulling others with them. This has happened before, and it will happen again. Those among our church family who lack a solid trust in God's soveriegnty in their life become discontented waiting on Him - and then share that discontent, looking for sympathizers who will join in on the misery.
Apparently that is happening among our young adults right now. A young woman who left our church once she became married is communicating with another young woman who is still with us. The discussion has turned to how a lack of education and lack of career has left the married girl unhappy.
You see, the majority of families in our church are homeschoolers and 'higher' education is not encouraged. It isn't taboo, either - but not encouraged. The majority of families also encourage young women toward being stay-at-home wives and mothers. So this married woman is now blaming our church's influence on her education and career choices as the reason for her misery.
The first problem with this story is that this young woman was from a family that did not homeschool. She is a public high school graduate, therefore had all the influence of that arena to head to college - but chose not to go.
The second problem with this story is that this young woman was a good example of a church suck-up: someone who jumps on the bandwagon to be part of the crowd. She was part of the youth group for years and took part in all types of ministry. She proclaimed convictions on several lifestyle issues - just like her friends of the time proclaimed. However, when the time came to trust in God's promises and live out those convictions, her true colours came out. There were no real convictions at all.
The third problem with this story, and the biggest problem, is that this young woman, for as long as I knew her (8 years), has never been content with her life. She was always looking for the next thing to make her happy. Because she was single, she wasn't happy - so she married. Unfortunately, she married a man who has little to no interest in the Lord. However, she HAD to be married to be happy.
When the marriage didn't make her happy, she HAD to have a baby. Now that the baby is here and she's not happy, it's because she doesn't have an education and career.
This young woman is an example of the 'children, tossed to and fro' (Ephesians 4:14) of someone who is 'ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth' (1 Timothy 3:7). Now she wants to have the sympathizers to join her in her misery.
All that can be done for the young woman who still has a relationship with Mrs. Misery, is to remind of God's warnings:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:11
This friendship would be short lived if the young woman who remains in church were to begin changing the subject away from misery. If she were to express the blessings she experiences in her life by living out her convictions each time a trial comes; if she were to reprove the 'unfruitful' conversation when it arises - Mrs. Misery would stop communicating with her.
That is hard to do for a young woman - for anyone. It is hard to set yourself up to be hurt by someone who calls themselves a friend. I pray for her, I pray for her parents wisdom in guiding her and I pray for the situation as a whole. And, then I have to practice what I preach and leave it up to God.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
Ephesians 3:20

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Side Effects of Socialism

Canada is very much a socialist country. Obviously there are some Canadians that wish to live within a socialistic state because they keep voting for it. I am not one of them. To me, it is clear that one of the side effects of living in socialism is foolishness. By giving the government a mandate to "run our lives" for us, we seem to stop thinking for ourselves.

Personally, I do not need my government to tell me it's a bad idea to use my cell phone while driving or that using pesticides is hazardous to my health - and therefore they spend time and money creating laws around these things. I do not need my government to provide liquor and gambling sites in every town and then provide fully funded addiction services for when I am hooked. I do not need my government to "enhance" my parenting skills or educate my child. I do not need my government to use my taxes to support failing businesses - from artists who can't sell their version of art to car companies who have buried themselves in debt - oddly, I believe if your business is failing, it means no one wants what your selling or it has been managed poorly.

Socialism encourages the general public to accept government assistance (grants, tax rebates, program funding) AS LONG AS certain standards are met; AS LONG AS the government agencies can monitor every move you make. This gives a strong argument against ever accepting government 'help' in homeschooling. Nothing is free, it comes with a lot of strings attached.

A socialist government is not out to encourage the general public to think independently - this could hamper the chances of them staying in power. Actually, by slowly sucking people into a dependence driven life, a socialist government is breeding ignorance. It is a breed of fools that is hard to create otherwise.

All that hype for a simple example that occurred while we were on vacation recently where one of the small side effects of socialism came up. We went out for dinner at a great Italian place. Great atmosphere, great food and great service. These are all things that are hard to come by - especially all together! However, when the bill arrived, it had a surprise on it. This establishment automatically added the gratuity to the final bill. This is where the fools of socialism can be identified. When anyone is used to someone else doing their thinking for them - they do not question this type of anomoly.

A gratuity is NOT a charge for service. It is a gift for good service. It should not be automatically charged with the excuse that servers depend on tips to make a good living - owners should be expected to pay the servers an appropriate wage. More importantly, a practice of billing for a tip does not help in building good service and bad service should not expect a tip.

My husband is no fool. He immediately went to speak to our server and discussed the definition of a gratuity with him. The young man apologized with noted embarrassment and explained that the owner had set up the system this way - but, he would (and did) remove the charge at my husband's request.

Once that was done, we paid the bill - and left a good tip for our server. Because we chose to do so; because we had received good service. Not because someone else is doing our thinking for us.

I do have to be careful about complaining of the lack of common sense in this country. Some government figure might decide to commission a study and create a new agency to mandate their version of common sense!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Field Trip!

Today I'm showing off a vacation that only ended on Wednesday. Our family and a family/friends from church headed out early Sunday morning for Niagara Falls. Our friends have 6 kids, one of whom is HH - Duck's good friend. In the picture below, you can see the girls never got too far without the little brothers tagging along:We did disguise this vacation as a field trip - we trekked through some rigorous trails down the Niagara Gorge which brought us down to the Niagara River. The boulders that lined these paths were huge! This is Duck using a nice smile to hide how tired she is:Our school part of the trip was to discuss the contrasting views of how the Falls and the Gorge were created. The old tale of evolution (billions of years) vs. the Lord's creation (thousands of years). We collected rocks and examined the layers of soil/rock. The kids have an assignment that each age level can complete to write out what they learned.

Of course, we had to walk down by the Falls themselves. It wasn't raining, but the wind and the mist from the Falls always ensures the path is wet. We wrapped Duck in a blanket because the wind was so cold:What Niagara attractions interest a country-bumpkin and homeschool kid? The escalator! Duck and the other kids rode up and down every escalator we came across - several times! The other big deal was the bus tour we took - on a bus with NO seat belts! The big city is an exciting place: Here's the whole kid pack in front of the giant Hershey bar, right outside of the Hershey store (yes, they had free samples!):And I would be crazy not to show you some of the scenery shots from our hikes. The first shot shows off our vantage point from approximately halfway down our trail into the Gorge. It was a long way down, and an even longer way up:This is a nice picture of the trail right on the river. The rapids are fiercely tumultuous and we had to be diligent about watching the kids. It was such a good time for everyone, we actually stayed an extra day over what was originally planned. The blessings we received from the Lord during this trip were remarkable - and I hope to write about them early next week.

For now - visit Mary for more Show and Tell!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who Is Responsible?

On the Canadian news right now there is a running commentary of a sad story. The kind of story that evokes great emotions from people, causing them to jump into action as volunteers, fundraisers parties. The kind of story we hear far too often. The news story is of an 8 year old girl gone missing.

I would never confront the parents of lost children to cause any further pain to their situation. However, I can't deny the question in my mind.

"What were they thinking?!"

You see, this little girl (and, yes, 8yo is still a little girl!) disappeared as she walked home alone from school. It makes no difference if this family lives in a big city or a small town, children need to be supervised in this world.

It's not being overprotective - it's just plain wise. Why? Because...

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: John 10:10a
I don't propose to live our lives in fear, on the contrary. We are to raise our children with the confidence that comes with God's soveriegnty.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
It is sad and maddening when young children are walking the downtown streets unsupervised. Not only are they left to meet worldly snares on their own, they are susceptible to their own sinful desires (eg. I double-dog-dare you to throw rocks at the cars).
So much of the world tells parents to sign away their God-given responsibility to train, educate and protect their children - national daycare, babysitters, public school, camps, after-school programs, etc. If we listen to the world's way, we could pass off our kids for days at a time and be considered 'good' parents while doing it.
So with society telling us to let others take care of our children; telling us that 8 year olds are old enough to be out alone; telling us that parents can share/give up the responsibility for our children...then who is responsible when they get lost?
Who is responsible when they start drinking/smoking at an early age?
Who is responsible when they jump into recreational sex?
Not the daycare. Not the public school. Not the babysitters.
To paraphrase a line from an old movie, "children don't just get lost, parents lose them." And they get lost in so many different ways. Lost emotionally, lost spiritually, lost physically, lost emotionally.
Take a good look at your children. God has given parents a huge responsibility, and when we stand before Him on our appointed day, there will be no excuses. Will we be able to say we did our BEST? Will He say, "well done, good and faithful servant."?
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Duck Notes

When my husband and I were away from Duck for a length of time recently, I had written her several letters. Three per day to be exact, and I gave them to her before we left. Each envelope was labelled with the time she could open it, i.e. Saturday morning, Saturday at lunch, Saturday at bedtime.

These little notes of encouragement and love made me feel like I would still be part of her day, even when we were miles apart Duck like the idea so much, so she quickly made up letters for me to take on my trip, too.

But, the idea of little love notes has been part of our homes for long time. Look at these:
Every notebook I have is speckled with these notes and pictures. I was searching my Bible one day came across this sticky note:
That note is actually several years old, and I plan on keeping right there! That way, when my Duck is too old to leave me notes and pictures (hopefully never!) I will have some left to reminisce with!
For more Show and Tell, go see Mary!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How Did This Happen?

There have been many occasions where people recommend books to me. Each time I politely decline citing "I'm not a reader." as my general response. It's the truth. I simply do not list reading as a favourite thing to do or as a hobby.

I do enjoy specific types of reading, including magazine articles, school books for lesson preparation, scripture studies, and I have been known to read the write ups on science experiments, too. These all fit into short-story-type reading. That's about the length of my attention span. I cannot look at a thick book, on any topic - fiction or non - and be interested in it. Never mind reading the Bible in a year. It took an entire year to read the book of Isaiah. However, what I do read I find useful, interesting and generally it inspires me for different projects.

The other day I noticed something weird. I actually have 3 books on the go with 2 more waiting in the wings. As I have mentioned, our ladies' group is studying Martha Peace's Becoming a Titus 2 Woman - so I'm reading that. One of the ladies in the group had a copy of Martha Peace's The Excellent Wife and offered it to me - I accepted because I'm enjoying the first one so much, so I'm reading that. As well, I picked up a book called Proverbs 31 Woman and I am reading that, too!

Now, granted, all these books fit into a complimentary theme, but that is still a reading overload for me.

Am I enjoying them. Yes.

How long will it take me to finish them?
Who knows!

Titus 2 is on a schedule because of the ladies' group; The Excellent Wife belongs to someone else and there are a couple people waiting to read it. Proverbs 31 I hope to be able to recommend to two young ladies who often ask for my suggestions on what they can study together. So I need to stay on top of a reading schedule without superceding my school prep and my time in scripture.


In the end, by the time I finish with this reading run I may not pick up a new book for ages. But maybe I'm getting smarter through the whole process? Maybe God is opening a new way to communicate with me? Maybe I'm just changing with age?

Either way, I don't plan on taking up with the Harlequins! ;o)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Do You Love Me? John 21:1-18

Today I am showing and telling my reflections for Easter. If you prefer something more light hearted, scroll down to the next post.
For more S&T, see Mary!

Simon Peter was a fisherman. It had been his life's work before Jesus called him. This chapter (John 21:1-18) shows us that he and other disciples returned to that familiar lifestyle when things did not turn out as they had hoped and imagined. Jesus was their leader, their Saviour, their Christ; but, to their limited sight at that time, Jesus was dead.

Simon Peter had been so very close with Jesus. He believed he would follow Jesus to the death, if necessary (John 13:37). Instead, he had run away; he had denied Christ; he had failed.

So there they are - fishing. They had been out all night and caught nothing. Does anyone doubt they had spent those hours in misery, focusing on their failure? They couldn't even catch a fish!

And then they see Him on the beach...calling them back, giving them instructions for success. "Put the net on the other side of the boat." Imagine the grumbling! "We are professional fisherman...we have been out here all night and caught is that going to change by moving the net?" It made no sense, but it worked. Success from simple obedience to Jesus.

How many times do we, as His children, run from Him. We return to our old lifestyles; we go back to doing things our way; we fail to follow Him and lay those old sins at the foot of the cross. OR, we lay down one sin, just to pick it back up again! I know I am guilty of this lack of faith, this lack of trust (Isaiah 53:6).

The road to spiritual success is written out clearly for us. We simply need to apply scripture to each and every part of our lives (Colossians 3:17).
1. study
2. examine ourselves
3. obey & change
4. success

Now picture yourself as Peter on the beach (vs. 15-17). "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"

My heart breaks for Peter, who had agonized over his failures. Who had given up all his stated convictions of following Jesus only to return to his old lifestyle. "Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." Jesus repeats his question to Peter (or imagine it is you) three times - "(Kim), lovest thou me?" And each time He asks, we remember the sins we continue to hold onto. We peek into that closet in our hearts where we think we are hiding those areas of our life that we don't want to analyze through God's eyes. We are grieved because we have returned to our old lifestyle, yet again, instead of following Christ.

He gives us simple instruction, "Feed my sheep."

We can't do Christ's work if we constantly run away from Him. We can't "catch fish" from the side of the boat we have chosen. We can't feed His sheep without a solid, constantly growing relationship with Him. We can find success ONLY in obedience to Him.

Verse 18 shows us the difference. When we were young (unsaved) we did as we wanted. Now we are old (saved, growing) and we must follow where He carries us -- where we would not go on our own.

Look at each area of your life and examine it under scriptural lenses - i.e. finances, relationships, employment, health, etc. Is your 'net' on your side of the boat(worldly)? Are you following Christ all the way to the cross? Are your repeatedly returning to your old lifestyle?

Success will come from simple obedience. Cast your net on the other side.


Remember some of this the next time you get the 'homeschooling' questions:

Two women meet at a playground where their children are swinging and playing ball. The women are sitting on a bench watching and eventually begin to talk.

Woman #1: Hi, my name's Maggie. Those are my three kids in the red shirts - it helps me keep track of them.

Woman #2: I'm Patty. Mine are in pink and yellow. Do you come here alot?

W#1: Usually two or three times in a week, after we go to the library.

W#2: Wow! Where do you find the time?

W#1: We homeschool, so we do it during our day most of the time.

W#2: Some of my neighbours homeschool, but my kids go to public school.

W#1: How do you do it?

W#2: It isn't easy. I go to alot of PTA meetings and work with the kids everyday after school and stay really involved.

W#1: Don't you worry about socialization? Aren't you worried about them being cooped up all the time with kids their own age? What if they never get the opportunity for natural relationships?

W#2: Well, I work hard to balance that. They have some friends who are homeschooled and we try to visit their grandparents once a month.

W#1: Sounds like you are a very dedicated mom. But don't you worry about the opportunities they're missing out on? I mean they're so isolated from real life. How will they learn what the real world is like -- what people do to make a living -- how to get along with all different kinds of people?

W#2: Oh, we discussed that at the PTA, and we started a fund to bring real people into the classrooms. Last month, we had a policeman and a doctor come in to talk to every class. And next month, we're having a woman from Japan and man from Kenya come to speak.

W#1: Oh, we met a man from Japan in the grocery store the other week, and he got to talking about his childhood in Tokyo. My kids were absolutely fascinated. We invited him to dinner and got to meet his wife and their three children.

W#2: That's nice. Hmmm. maybe we should plan some Japanese food for the lunchroom on Multicultural Day.

W#1: Maybe your Japanese guest could eat with the children?

W#2: Oh, no. She's on a very tight schedule. She has two other schools to visit that day. It's a system wide thing we're doing.

W#1: Oh, well maybe you'll meet someone at the grocery store sometime and be able to invite them to dinner.

W#2: I don't think that is likely. I don't talk to people in the grocery store -- certainly not people who might not speak my language. What if that Japanese man you met hadn't spoken English?

W#1: Well, I never had time to think about. Before I even saw him, my 6 year old had already asked him what he was going to do with all the oranges he was buying.

W#2: You let your children talk to strangers?

W#1: I was right there with him. He knows that as long as he is with me, he may speak to anyone he wishes.

W#2: But you're developing dangerous habits with him. My children never talk to strangers.

W#1: Even if you're there with them?

W#2: They're never with me. Except at home after school. So you see why it's so important for them to understand that talking to strangers is a no-no.

W#1: Well, yes. But if they are with you, they could get to meet interesting people and still be safe. They'd get a taste of the real world, in real settings. They'd also get a real feel for how to tell when a situation is dangerous or suspicious.

W#2: They'll get all that in the third and fifth grades of their health courses.

W#1: Well, I can tell you're a very caring mom. Let me give you my number -- if you ever want to talk, give me a call. It was good to meet you.

Author unknown.

Inexperience is Part of the Experience

At our recent homeschool conference, my husband and I enjoyed the company of two ladies from our church. We came in seperate vehicles and stayed at different hotels, but met for meals and visits throughout the weekend.

Both these ladies are just taking their first, in-depth look at homeschool. The first woman is my age with a 2 year old at home. She is currently homeschooling her teenage step-daughter, however, being in a second marriage she never had the opportunity to teach from the beginning. The second woman is actually considering schooling her grandson, whom she adopted last year. So, they are both looking at this challenge through fresh eyes.

Each of them has expressed their anxieties about the tremendous amount of knowledge they believe they are lacking:

"What curriculum is best for my child? Do I want a diploma for him at the end? What kind of schedule is needed? Should I set up a classroom? How do I set up a classroom?"

Remembering when we first entered the home education arena, we empathized with their anxieties and listened to their questions. However, I am not the type to dwell on anxieties for long. Nor do I generally 'overthink' my decisions, schedules or plans. My husband does and he lovingly refers to me as a simpleton. I'm okay with that - simple is a good thing in my mind. I like to approach new challenges with the thought, "it can't be that hard!"

So when the mother of the 2yo asked my opinion about a Canadian history book ($30!) for the teenager at home, I talked her out of the purchase, "Take an hour or two and set up unit studies on history subjects". I reminded her about how my Duck learned (and continues to learn) about Canadian geography (see here). The only money I spent was on a laminated map ($4.99) and the rest of the study has been time researching on the computer - and not alot of time was needed. Simple, but effective.

The grandmother hasn't decided what her focus will be for her grandson's education. Being a new christian, she still has alot of secular worldviews in her thinking, which means I need to speak carefully when answering her questions. She does not see a difference in the roles of male and female (feminist), and she still sees 'higher education' as a goal for all young people to 'make a success in this world'. So my simple answers (college is not a necessity; young men should be raised to be leaders in the church first; success is found in a life glorifying God) do not satisfy her. In fact, she can look at me as though I have two heads! But, she is still willing to talk with me, so I'll keep selling her my simple ways.

There are dozens of ways to accomplish home education and dozens of curriculums to do it. It can be overwhelming, frustrating and scary when stepping into this challenge. We all know our kids our worth it and we can't allow fear (or the fearmongers!) of the unknown to stop us.

By the time our kids reach an age for formal schooling, they have learned to walk, talk, use the toilet, use utensils, accomplish chores, etc. WE, the parents, taught them all that! Public school teachers were inexperienced in the classroom once, too. They learned how to do it, so can any parent.

So what are you waiting for? Teach your children!

Mydoctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto oue God. Deuteronomy 32:2&3

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me.
Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.
Psalm 56:1&2 (emphasis mine)
Lately I had been a little apathetic toward the whole blog world - the world in general, too. I love to read different posts, especially when other christian women share their personal studies of scripture. However, when I get to the comment section, I can't help but wonder if we're just 'singing to the choir'. So often, the comments are all about patting each other on the back for our insight.

Is that a bad thing? No, of course not.

When anyone shares their thoughts on scripture or shares a personal testimony of how God is working in their lives, I try to express my encouragement and my appreciation. But, are we learning anything new, or just rehashing the basics? Are we challenging each other? Are we looking to be challenged? (these thoughts might explain my recent posts on mediocrity!)

Obviously, when a debate does occur it needs to be respectful and backed with scripture - arguing just to argue accomplishes nothing. Challenge is something different. Iron is supposed to sharpen iron, after all.

Maybe this is how pastors feel when they preach and teach God's word but no one is really listening and looking to change because of how it should affect our lives. All around me, personal friends as well as some of those I visit online seem to stuck in a rut - stuck in mediocrity! I was beginning to feel as if these things would swallow me up - just like the scripture above says.

Then I went to my homeschool conference! I listened to moms who have completed this journey; I listened to a HS graduate; I perused new books and studies for education, but also for biblical study. It was refreshing and challenging and...WONDERFUL!

Here is the next part of that Psalm:

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
Psalm 56:3&4

I should have kept reading when I was feeling dragged down. Why can't I remember to turn to scripture?! He always knows what I need, even when I don't.

So I am ready to start again. Ready to share my thoughts on biblical things even if no one else cares or reads them. Expressing myself on this blog is something that does bring clarity for me. I need to stop focusing on others and my opinion of how they need to change and spend time on how God would have me change.

Pray for me to keep focused!

I will share more about the conference in coming days...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Reason to Celebrate

Spring has officially arrived on the calendar, but I am generally skeptical about the end of the snow this early in the year. I am going to be optimistic this weekend, you read this, my husband has taken me to a homeschool conference. I find the idea of purchasing our grade 5 books early AND for a good price very exciting. When I talked to the Duck about it, oddly she did not share in my excitement - ? "Mom, could I just work on finishing grade 4 before we look at next year?" OK

For show and tell today, I have some great pictures:

Some true signs and symptoms of spring are everywhere these days. These crocus pictures are from around our neighbourhood. It was even a lovely, sunny day today to take the shots.

BUT...the real, most exciting sight is this picture:

Do you recognize it? It is my rhubarb starting to push through! I think I love rhubarb the most because it is free groceries! That is my reason to celebrate.

As I mentioned above, I am away this weekend, but I will visit your show and tell posts early next week - I always enjoy them!

For more Show and Tell, go see Mary!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Flying Duck

Another sign of spring is when Duck and I can get outside more often during the day. This is another reason why I love homeschooling...we can be flexible with our days and enjoy the sun when it comes out.
The park is only a few blocks from our place and the swings are a favourite.

Enjoy these spring days!