Thursday, March 23, 2017

He is still good.

God is good.  All the time.  And all the time...you know how it goes.  We sing about it.  We teach it to our kids.  We quote scripture to back it up.  But do we really understand what we're saying?

Good.  What does it mean?  Safe? Healthy? Working the job we want? Living in the home we desire? Getting our kids into the program we chose? This is the Western definition of good. And because we've allowed the word to morph into this selfish and petty meaning, it's lost it's luster.  We've removed it's power.  And in the process we've turned the idea of our God into this store clerk ready and waiting to fill our orders of the next thing we want that will make our lives "good."

Websters defines good as "what is morally right; righteous" or of "benefit or advantage to someone or something." It's the second definition that has stuck in our culture.  But that first idea.  Morally right.  Righteous.  Is that what we're asking for when we pray for those desired outcomes?  It should be, right?  Often when we pray we're laying out this laundry list of all the ways and things God can do to bring "good" into our lives.  As if he needs our understanding of the circumstances and help to sort it all out.  As if His eye had been taken off of of the situation and now we need to let Him know what the next best step is.  It makes me think of the stories and explanations I get from my 5 year old when he's trying to convince me that he needs his tab back or wants a bowl of ice cream.  Full of reasons  and whining to get to his desired outcome, but nothing supporting the point that ice cream and youtube videos would be the moral thing to do and bring us all closer to God.

He once threw a major fit and hid his head under his step stool because I wouldn't let him play with raw chicken breast. How many times do we get mad at God or lose our faith in His power or love for us when He answers our requests with no?  Maybe, just maybe He knows more than we do. Maybe He knows that if He gave us what we were asking for, we'd be at risk for serious pain or even death. Maybe He knows that "good" would not last.  And He's holding out for something better for us.

If this earthly good really is what we expect from our God - the house, the job, the behavior we've begged for from that child, the ice cream - then how do we pair that up against what is happening all around us?  That mother who hides her child from terrorists.   Isn't her God also good?  The father who doesn't get the diagnosis he had prayed for.  Does he not serve the same good God?  The young women who has just had taken from her every bit of innocence. Why is He not so "good" to her?  What about the missionaries who have risked their lives delivering the very good news of Christ? Certainly if God is going to be "good" to anyone, it would be them. Yet some do not return.  Children are killed.  Fathers die.  Innocence is lost. Missionaries are sacrificed.  How can any of this be good?

We must stop thinking of good as beneficial to our current situation.  Good is salvation. Good is whatever brings glory to God. It is eternity with our Heavenly Father.  It is walking this life in a way that points everyone we touch to the one and only good thing:  Christ.

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

This earthly life withers and fades away and so will all the "good" we've asked for; the diploma, the job, the house, anything that adds up to worldly success will be burnt up and gone forever. We must keep our eyes fixed on eternity.  That is the good that lasts.  He's using these earthly trials, these "bad" things to strengthen us, to save us, to save others.  And that is good.  When we equate God to a short order cook who we expect to deliver the order according to our specs, we have belittled His power and His true desires.  It's not happiness He wants for us, it's holiness.  That is good.

A lot of the good we ask for might really be just like that ice cream and youtube videos my youngest wants for his morning routine or that raw chicken breast to play with. Answering either of these requests with a yes would not usually be considered good parenting. As adults, we understand this because we can see further than the next five minutes. We must trust our Heavenly Father in the same way.  When He doesn't open that door we've been begging Him to knock down for us, maybe it IS a good thing.

No matter the circumstances.  He is good.  That does not change.  Even if my earthly father fails. Even if my child dies.  Even if my son walks away.  He is still worthy of praise.  He is still faithful.

He is still good.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Time does not heal

Fourteen years.  A lot can happen in that amount of time. Trials, celebrations, new beginnings, and even some good-byes.  Time can be a funny thing.  It can camouflage itself as a sloth as it races by like a jaguar.  It masks itself as money, only to prove itself priceless.  It can trick you into believing it is healing you, separating you from the things you want to forget, when it's actually distancing you from some of the most precious moments in life.

I've often wondered what it would be like to live outside of its limitations, its trickery.  I am beginning to understand how that could be possible.  Sometimes it feels like fourteen years ago was yesterday. Sometimes it feels like a different lifetime.  This continuum we live on is so fickle.  Wait, then hurry.  Stop and smell the roses.  The early bird gets the worm.  Enjoy the moment.  Seize the day. SLOW DOWN.  Don't get left behind.

We can't stop it.  We can't control it.  It's simply a resource.  And a tricky one at that. It's manipulative as it disguises itself as something we have plenty of, then looks back and smiles over it's shoulder with a shrug as the last of it runs out.  It bolsters a high value and the thing of most importance.  After all, it's an important currency in building relationships so there is a high value to it.  It is perhaps one of the most valuable resources we have.  But it quietly slips through our fingers when we are not watching. It's slippery and treacherous and valuable and priceless all at once.

One thing I know for sure about it though...time does NOT heal.

No matter how much time passes between the day my daughter left this world and now, time does not help. Fourteen years does nothing to cover the scar from when my soul was ripped in two. Fourteen years doesn't take away the pain of empty arms or breasts full of milk with no sweet baby to nourish.  Or dreams that have no hope of ever coming true. Time can't fix the pain and confusion in my other children's hearts as to why their sister is gone.  It doesn't help my son who loved his little sister with a great and innocent love that turned into a loss so deep and irreparable, the wound is still throbbing. Time does nothing for that. Except for maybe allowing us to fortify and strengthen those walls we build that keep us from feeling the hurt.  But those same walls also lock out the joy.

Those walls become thick, calloused and numb.  While that's good to protect us from the pain, it also separates us from the good times, the celebrations, the memories, the things yet to come.  I don't ever want to stop feeling the love I had in my heart when I held my daughter close.  When I nursed her.  When I dressed her and combed her hair.  When I sang to her with visions and dreams of her life to come. When I prayed for her future.  He had a plan for her, too, right?  What happened?  Or is it still happening?

We get caught up in the promises of the Bible and equate them to earthly promises and success.  A promise of a future does not necessarily mean the same in God's eyes as it does through the eyes of our world.  We have to keep our eyes fixed on the things of Heaven.

In HIS timeline, Kaylee's future still is.  His time doesn't stop when our hearts do.  She still has a purpose and a plan.  She still even has a legacy here on this earth.  It may not look like those dreams that danced in my head as I held her in my arms for three months, but it is powerful.  She still has much to do for the rest of eternity and her short life here on earth can still have an impact if I turn to God and trust in Him to carry it out.

It is only through HIM that we can survive such a loss.  Time has nothing to do with it.

If you are in the Miami area, we will be honoring our little girl with a ladybug release on the anniversary of her passing.  We do this every year as a way to help us all remember her and to help keep her close to our hearts and our eyes fixed on Jesus.  We've deemed March 29 as Ladybug Day and have done it every year since she passed in memory of her.  She was our Ladybug.  A sweet soul that came into our lives and chased away some of the bad bugs that were trying to separate us from the True Vine.

Here is an explanation of how and why we celebrate Ladybug Day. 

Ladybug Day is a celebration of life our family loves to share with our friends and their children.  The kids love it and the message is sticks.  God hears our prayers.  Always. If you and your family would like to join us, you can email me at ladybugjung@gmail.com for more info.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Entreprenurial Spirit

Lately I've been writing a lot on our choice to homeschool.  One of the things that comes along with that choice is a one-income household.  We don't have a boat, or drive the new cars.  Our vacations are budgeted and far-between.  Fortunately, God has blessed my husband with a good job that can support us, but there have been some times in the not so distant past that were a little touch-and-go. God is faithful and He has seen us through!
Mobile Popsicle Cart idea from The Celebration Shoppe
Currently, one of my boys is going through Challenge A in Classical Conversations.  The theme for Challenge A is ownership.  Every assignment and book they read points them back to this theme of owning their education, their life, their choices.  It is theirs.  Theirs to squander.  Theirs to take advantage of.  It is on them.  We want them to learn time management and accountability and self-discipline when it comes to their studies.  Less than half-way through the year I can already see the growth!  And I figure why not ride that wave on into the financial sector of his life. 

Starting from now on, my children will be taking an active role in paying their tuition for CC.  We've broken down the numbers and for our kiddos to pay for half of their tuition for next year, they need to earn about $15/week.  That is doable.  SO doable.  While we were brainstorming through some possibilities as to how this would work, I thought I'd share them with other families as well.  These ideas could be used with just about any family, but are especially geared toward families who might be in CC or other homeschooling communities. 

  • Sell candy bars or snacks. Purchase in bulk at a wholesale club.  Have the kids help you with setting the price compared to cost.  VALUABLE lesson here.  Some places will even let you sell baked goods! Want to promote a more healthy lifestyle?  Sell apples or bananas.  On hot days, sell orange slices…already peeled and cold!  Or frozen pineapple on a stick!  Or try one of the specialty THM recipes and sell them to those mamas who want to eat healthy but can't find the time to figure it all out.  Where? 
    • Kids sporting event.  Many sports leagues will allow you to walk through with a box of candy bars, snacks, or drinks.  One walk through could probably get you to your weekly goal.
    • Supermarkets. Get permission for this first, but many places are ok with this as long as you agree not to hound their customers too much J 
    • Have mom or dad take that box of candy bars into work.  About 2pm those things will sell like hot cakes. 
    • Community days.
    • Farmers Markets
  • Offer as a family to provide a service for your neighbors.  Grocery shopping, car washing, porch cleaning, yard work, dog walking, freezer meal prep.  Make up a flyer and explain that you are raising money to pay for your child's school.  You could pay for CC, turn a profit, AND teach your kiddos some entrepreneurial skills with this one.  WIN/WIN/WIN!
  • Partner with other families and reserve a farmers market booth!  Get together with a handful of other CC families and sell goods at a farmers market.  Some could bring veggies from their gardens or fruit from their trees.  Others could sell things they are making, etc.  The possibilities are ENDLESS.  Booths can run anywhere from 0 to $30.  Split with a couple families, and there could definitely be some profit involved.
  • Make Christmas ornaments or hand-crafted gifts and sell online to family and friends.  Again, when people know you are trying to pay for education and the kids have taken the initiative, they are more willing to support!  Jump on the essential oil bandwagon and make gifts that are homeopathic. 
  • Teens can babysit of course...definite need here :) 
  • Tweens can be mommy helpers.  If you're in a homeschool community, there are bound to be some homeschool mamas who would LOVE to have an older kid come and keep their littles busy and happy while they spend some time working with their older kids or even to just go take a long, hot shower. 
  • Provide lunch for community members!  Make hot and healthy lunches and sell for $3-$4 on community day.  Some people will do anything to not have to pack lunch. You could even approach local businesses and see if you could do this on other days of the week. 
  • Have a community car wash!  Get with your director and plan a car wash on a Saturday morning.  Advertise on social media and email to be sure all of your local family knows to come support your kids and get their car washed.  Make signs and HAVE FUN!  Split the proceeds between participating families to apply toward next year's tuition. 
  • Provide some type of private lessons or classes.  Do a writing workshop on Saturday mornings open to all students.  Or provide math tutoring or math study sessions.  We're learning Latin this year and my kids LOVE it.  They could teach beginning Latin.  Do they play an instrument?  Have them offer beginners level classes. 
  • Tutor and have your director hold your last semester's payment for next year’s tuition!
The possibilities are endless!  While the tangible outcome in doing these things will be that we have money for tuition for next year, the intangible is that our kids will learn that they can do something to change their circumstances.  They will learn that hard work pays off.  They will learn invaluable entrepreneurial skills and financial lessons. 

Here are a few other websites that offer some other ideas for kids to get in the entrepreneurial spirit.
37 Great Business Ideas for Young Entreeprenuers
21 Great Business Ideas for Kids
101 Business Ideas for Kids

Have other ideas as to how homeschool families can increase that income flow and teach our kids those valuable lessons?  Share them!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

But what about...

Even after 14 years of this homeschooling gig, and no matter how many times I reiterate WHY we homeschool and that those priorities are WAY more important to us than any other possible factor as to why we would put our kids in traditional school, we still get lots of "but what about________?" (insert your favorite school memory or program or reason here)

So that's what I'll focus on today.  The buts.

But what about sports?
Upward Football League
I love sports.  I was an athlete all the way through the collegiate level.  Sports are great for teaching discipline, teamwork, diligence, and many other things.  It's great exercise...which we could all use more of.  So yes, I agree that sports are important.  But homeschooling does not disqualify you from participating in sports.  Most young Olympians are, at least for part of their lives, homeschooled.  There are even professional athletes that were homeschooled.  Ever heard of Tim Tebow or the Williams sisters.  And here are a few more.

In the state of Florida (and many others as well) it is legal for homeschoolers to participate on athletic teams for the school they are zoned for.  Also, many private schools welcome homeschoolers on their sports teams.  Personally, I've found that some of the best athletic programs aren't even attached to schools.  The parks department and a handful of churches host their own leagues.  Upward programs are also available in many areas.  I love this program because it teaches MORE than just the game, it also focuses on sportsmanship and character development.

But what about opportunities like student government?


My daughter in her service committee brainstorming different ideas for her club to serve their community.



OK.  I was on the student council one year in high school.  I think we met three times. And I don't remember anything we did.  And while I'm sure there are many great things that it CAN teach you, as you can tell, it didn't make a HUGE impact on me :)  BUT again, I do see value here.  It's nice for students to learn how to run meetings, to gain leadership experience, to have the opportunity to participate in a governing body and learn about democracy and how organizations like this run, and to perhaps do something together to give back to their community.  But student council is not the only venue for doing this.

My kids are involved in 4H.  When I was growing up in Indiana, 4H (or so I thought) was for farmers.  4H kids showed pigs and raised rabbits and shucked corn. Boy was I wrong.  4H is SO much more than that.  My kids participate only at the club and county levels (they also have district, statewide, and even national events).  4H is a national youth development program.  Think of the clubs as these little independent student councils that are working together to learn leadership skills and serve their communities.  The meetings are run by the students.  The students are elected into office by other students.  The officers set up and approve agendas and projects and events to suit the group's needs and desires.  Meetings are generally held once a month, with events spread out throughout other times. Tell me again what my kids are missing by not being in student council?

But what about dances and other social events?
We even have opportunities for those awkward pics!
Have you read the news lately?  Every year for prom and other dances, there are a handful of high schoolers who leave for the dance but never return.  Not beating down any doors for my kiddos to have a chance at that.  Also, I attended several of these events in my own middle and high school years, and while there were a few that were fun and even memorable, none of them were life-changing.

But again, I do see value in fellowship and social events. And celebrations are important!  That's why MANY homeschool groups have these events as well.  In our area there are annual homecoming and proms for homeschoolers.  Not to mention all the support groups who have beach days, museum meet-ups, park days, field trips, movie nights, skating events, and MUCH MORE.  There are graduation events, as well. In all honesty, there are probably MORE opportunities to socialize for homeschoolers because, well, we work at it.  We are intentional with it.  And because of that, it is often more meaningful. And to be honest, probably a little safer as well.

But what about friends?
As I alluded to in the previous paragraph, there are SO many opportunities for our children to socialize.  We have 4H, church, sports leagues and programs, dance and voice lessons, taekwondo, support group events, and the list literally could go on forever.  But let's talk seriously about this friendship thing.

When I was in school I had about two to three girls at any given time that I would run with.  Did I know more than that?  Yes.  Did the fact that I actually KNEW OF thirty other ten year olds when I was ten add any value to my childhood experience?  Probably not.  Friends are one of those things you measure qualitatively not quantitatively.  It is not about the number of friends our kids have, it's about the quality and experience in those friendships.  I personally don't want to throw my kids into the throngs of the popularity game.  It's over-rated and potentially damaging.

Full disclosure here:  When my oldest was 13, he went back to school for a few years.  It wasn't my idea, but I chose not to fight him and his father on it.  He suddenly had MANY new friends. More than I could count. More than I could know.  Friends who had parents I knew nothing about...whose lives I knew nothing about...whose values I knew nothing about.  Friends who had other ideas about what was right and wrong and who sometimes had parents that just didn't have the time or resources to stop and pay attention to the decisions their kids were making.  And this affected my son.  It affected his perception of right and wrong...too soon. As his parents, we lost even more credibility and some influence because now his peer group was HUGE and VERY different than us.  So while yes, the amount of friends he had grew, so did the amount of drama, conflict, negative influence and so many other things.  Be careful what you wish for.

Still.  Loneliness is hard. There have been seasons when my other children have gone through a time with fewer friends.  It is hard to watch your child be lonely.  But as an adult, we also have those seasons.  Instead of trying to "fix it" for them, if we can encourage our children through these times and teach them that they that will pass and how to effectively get through them, we are only better preparing them for life.  That is our goal, right?  Not happy kids...but successful and grounded adults. I also know that my times of loneliness are often also times of personal development and a strengthening of my faith.  I lean on God more than people.  My faith grows.  There's more time for introspection, for thinking, for reading, for service, and for other things that a full social calendar often interfere with. When we make decisions based on what makes our kids happy in the moment, its easier at that time, but in the end, we pay. And speaking of paying...

But what about the cost?
Yes, public and charter schools are free...in as much as they do not collect tuition.  But you get what you pay for.  Any finance person will tell you that there are more costs than just the immediate monetary ones.  You may not have to pay tuition or purchase curriculum, but what are the hidden costs?

Time with your child is one.  And your child's very own time for himself is another.  Traditional school takes time.  As homeschoolers, we can get done in 3-4 hours what it might normally take a couple eight hour days in a traditional school setting.  And then there is homework.  So they're gone all day, and then they come home with more work to do.  Many will often spend as much time doing homework than you might spend doing regular homeschooling work.  Throw in an extra curricular activity and you might get an hour with your kids a day if you're lucky.  And you'll need to use that to feed them and prep for the next day.

Flexibility is also another cost.  As homeschoolers, you have control over your own schedule.  If you want to take a vacation in November when there are no crowds, do it.  If you need to take off out of state for a month and take care of a sick relative or go on a mission trip, do it.  If you want stay up late and spend more time with dad, who works late, and wake up at 9am instead of 6am, do it. No mad dashes out the door to catch the bus.  No doctors notes to explain absences. No getting permission to raise your child the way you see fit.

When companies need to do something that does not directly affect their mission or vision, or does not involve critical or valuable materials, they outsource.  However, they would never hand over valuable product or intel, or anything they hold near and dear to their vision or philosophy to be outsourced.  This is because if the outsourcing company balks or fails, it can directly effect their bottom line and even have a huge impact on the overall success and even survival of the company.  Our children are the most precious and valuable gift we've ever been given. Raising them might very well be the most important thing I do in my life.  And God placed them under me and has gifted me with exactly what is needed to lead them.  And if there's something else they need, He will provide that as well!  If I outsource this responsibility to someone else, they absolutely will not be as invested as I am.  And that can lead to costs that I am not willing to pay.

What are other "buts" you've run across or are wrestling with now in regards to homeschooling?  Would love to continue this conversation in the comments below and even to point you to resources that can help!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Why We Homeschool

When I first had kids, homeschooling wasn't even in my vocabulary.  I didn't know any homeschoolers.  I had never thought about homeschooling.  In all honesty, I didn't even know it existed.  When your kids got old enough, they went to school.  That was just the way it was.  My first was in daycare and preschool while I finished up my degree and worked.  I was on my way to an MBA and planned on busting through some corporate ceilings!

Then life happened.  Isn't that the way it always is?  Over the course of about six months, God really opened my eyes up to what He wanted for me...for my family.  He turned my heart towards my home and my family and away from the world.  

We started homeschooling after my husband's company transferred us to Korea.  There really weren't a lot of educational options for a 6 year old who didn't speak fluent Korean in a small town over there.  We were either going to have to board him and pay $10,000 for first grade, or homeschool.

My husband is South Korean and came to the US to study.  His host family in college were homeschoolers. They were my first introduction to this lifestyle...a lovely family with strong connections and solid faith.  Mike and Linda made it look easy, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I was completely over-confident.  This wasn't going to be a long-term thing, so surely I could pull it off without any hinges. He was an early reader, intuitive with math and science. Even if we "lost" a year or so, he'd be ready to enter at grade level when we came back to the states.  

Then I fell in love.  All over again, I got to know my son.  We shared experiences.  We had fun.  We fought.  We cried.  We laughed.  We learned.  Together.  It wasn't always easy.  But we were together. That was important to me.  That was important to him. 

I always loved teaching.  When you teach something new to someone, I believe there is an experience created.  A memory.  Those "Aha" moments brought us closer.    

It also made me a better mom.  I could no longer hide things.  He witnessed a LOT more of my life than before.  So I had to stay on my toes.  I learned to be patient, because, well, I didn't really have another choice. This is often an excuse I hear from others as to why they don't homeschool..."Oh I don't have enough patience to do that."  Guess what...neither do I.  But His strength is made known in our weakness.  Patience is like a muscle.  You have to exercise it to grow it.  And yes, homeschooling gives you plenty of opportunities to develop that muscle.  But it is an important muscle to develop.  One we're actually called to develop, so if anything, lack of patience could be a reason TO homeschool.  :)  See what I did there?  

So, while our homeschool started out as a practical solution to a temporary situation, fourteen years later here we are...still homeschooling.  And it has NOTHING to do with where we live. We've added a few students to our school over the years as well.   

We homeschool because...
  1. We can.  It is a blessing to be able to do this.  It is currently legal to homeschool in the U.S. and there are MANY opportunities for homeschoolers to participate in different programs, communities, and co-ops.  Our environment is homeschool friendly.  My kids have WAY more opportunities to pursue the things God has called them to because we do homeschool.  We can get our actual school work done in a couple hours a day (as opposed to the seven to eight in a traditional school) and then we have more time to pursue extra-curricular or dive deeper into subjects they are really interested in. They certainly aren't missing out not being in a public school.
  2. Socialization is better for homeschoolers.  Seriously.  This whole socialization topic is ridiculous. Schools don't teach our kids to socialize.  How many times in your adult life have you sat in a room with 30 people who are exactly your age and your level to work on something or learn something? Our traditional schools were actually modeled after a Prussian schools system that was designed to indoctrinate students and build loyalty to the new king.  Scary.  Homeschool kids have so many more opportunities to learn life skills, including socialization.  At home, they usually have siblings to deal with.  Definitely opportunity for conflict resolution skills there. Plus, parents can involve them more in the daily running of the household.  They could learn to pay bills, do their own laundry, take care of a home, grow their own food, cook their own meals, even prepare meals for their family.  And outside of the home, there are a plethora of opportunities.  My kids participate in youth sports programs two to three times a week.  We are part of 4H where each of them actually hold an office in which they were voted in for by their club members.  They take classes at local studios for dance, music, and taekwondo.  We also participate in Classical Conversations where they come together once a week with other students from like-minded families who are using the same curriculum to provide accountability and strong relationships as they grow and learn together. They are not lacking in opportunities for socialization.  In our area, the toughest thing for homeschoolers to learn to do is say no to outside activities.  There are lots of GOOD things out there. With co-ops, enrichment programs, guitar lessons, taekwondo, church, field trips, and more...just trust me, socialization is EASY. 
  3. It is the best option for us.  Our second son has a learning style that would not fit well in a traditional school environment.  Being able to grow and work with him on his terms has allowed him to flourish.  Four years ago, he would have been considered below grade-level in reading and writing.  He is now above grade-level for both.  I honestly believe this is due to the fact that at home, I did not have to label him or put him in special classes to catch up, I simply taught him and encouraged him at his level.  And he learned without doubting his capabilities or having a crutch to lean on because of a label.  As a homeschooler, all of my kiddos can work at their own level, whether it's ahead or behind.  They don't have to feel the stress of staying with the pack and can pursue things that interest them if they finish their work.  My oldest has been able to spend more time on his passion, music.  And my daughter isn't surrounded by the everyday pressures to fit in.  And all of them get to develop a relationship with their youngest brother who if they were gone all day, would barely get to see them!
  4. We spend WAY less time on academics, and get better results!  Instead of waking everyone up at the crack of dawn and rushing everyone out the door, shoving breakfast in our face in the car, only to spend seven hours shuffled around from room to room, then to come home for two to three more hours of homework, my kids get to work at a pace a little less frantic.  They wake up at a decent hour, but if we were out late the night before for a church event or with friends, or to see a super cool lunar eclipse, they might sleep in a bit...and I will get no calls from an attendance office.  We wake up and have a leisurely breakfast, read our Bible, play with their little brother, and settle into some school work.  We get our work done, and we get to do life together.  
  5. My family and my kids' spiritual foundation is more important than my career.  I don't mean this as a slam to anyone.  Honestly.  Everyone's situation is different.   I have a degree and have been very successful in the professional field.  I could contribute significantly to my family's finances.  But I do not feel called to do so.  Thirteen years ago we had to bury a child.  That will forever be a part of me and every decision I make.  Time is fleeting.  Things of this world will burn up and be gone forever.  But the investments we make in our children regarding their faith and Christ's love for them will live on.  My children are royalty, heirs to the throne of Christ.  Their education should be that of royalty and it is worth the sacrifices my family makes regarding finances, time, and my career.   
Of course there are many reasons to homeschool, but these are our top five.  It's not because we hate public schools or public school teachers.  I actually commend teachers because their job is REAL and TOUGH.  We don't homeschool because we're elitist, thinking we're better than anyone who doesn't homeschool.  It's a choice we've made.  It's not easy every day.  Some days and months and years are hard.  But the pay-off is immeasurable.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ladybug

Today is Kaylee's twelfth birthday. I usually try to write on these days. It usually helps. Usually. But I don't have it in me today. Instead I'm reposting a letter from last year. One I needed to read. Please pray for me if you can. Right now I'm sitting in the middle of the "nevers" and hurting. I will give it to God before the day's over. Because that is the only way to heal this pain. Anything else just numbs it. Time doesn't help. Food doesn't either. And neither does screaming at your kids. I've tried them all and in the end, the pain is still there. Sometimes even more fierce. But my God is greater. He is stronger. And He will come to my rescue.


Repost from December 27, 2012: Eleven years. Wow.  Time passes by so quickly when we aren't looking.  Sometimes it seems like a blink of an eye, yet at other times, a whole different lifetime.  The picture on the right was taken just a day before Kaylee went home to meet Jesus.  I like to believe she's praying for us in it.  It makes me smile. Somehow it's as if she knows what the next day will bring. 

Burying a child isn't normal.  But even harder still is the simple task of living after such a tragedy.  People ask me how we got through it. But you're never THROUGH it.  That suggests some sort of finality or ending.  The pain of losing a child doesn't end.  It's a wound that never heals. 

Thank God for a Savior that tends to that wound on a daily basis.  Another death, the holidays, a birthday, a familiar laugh, a special toy or song, all or any of these things split the scar wide open again.  Only the salve of Christ's love can ease the pain.  Cover it so nothing else gets in there and makes it worse.  Protect it from infection of bitterness, anger, and other things of this world that tend to find their way into our hurting hearts.  

Later today we will make a ladybug cake.  We'll sing and celebrate the birthday of my little girl who is not here with us.  My little girl who never got to have a birthday party.  Never got to learn to play piano.  Never got to swim.  Never spoke a word.  Never had a first kiss.  The nevers could go on and on.  They are endless. And they are where the bitterness lie.  I cannot go there.  At least I cannot stay.

I tell my boy, Kaleb, who struggles with anxiety and some pretty intense emotions, "Don't focus on the bad, think of the GOOD things." So that's what I will do.

For three months, I got to hold the most beaufitul baby girl of all time.  I got to nurse her and love her.  I got to see her first smile and hear her first coo. I got to give her her first bath and feed her her first cereal.  I got to comfort her when she cried.  I got to hold her in my arms when she left this world. And I get to love her forever.

So yes, today we will bake a cake and sing and celebrate the birthday of the little girl that changed our lives forever.  Looking forward to the day when we can all celebrate together.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

18 and Life

Ever stop and take a moment in time?  One of those moments when you stop and look around you and truly
see all that God has done in your life and your family?  When you stop and realize how far He has brought you and how He was not only there for the mountains and the valleys, but he was hoisting you on shoulders to celebrate the highs, and cradling and protecting you through the lows.  Tonight I got a chance to take one of those moments.  After a LONG week of holiday parties, planning meetings, training events, and of course homeschooling 4 kids and attending to my family in the meantime, I sat in my dining room in soaking it all in.

Just hours before the room was filled with people who, since our move to Miami, have poured into and loved on my family and my son.  It was sweet to share an evening with them, celebrating 18 years of glorious life with my rock star, Kedric.  I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without him...don't even want to think about it.  As a tribute, I'm compiling some of my favorite song lyrics...some old, some new...that remind me of him.  Some I used to sing to him.  Some we used to sing together when he was much older...like the track that the title gets credit for.  But it was those silly times together, those moments in time, that I'm so grateful for.  Those are the most precious.  When we just smiled and laughed together.  

It is my prayer that as my family transitions into this season of life, that we always remember those moments. And that we continue to create new ones!  That we never forget the One who brought us together and kept us together.  That as each of us grow into this new phase, we learn and grow from one another.  That we keep open hearts and minds and always love each other with courageous, genuine, unconditional love.  

I cannot believe the one I used to hold in my arms and sing to sleep is taller than me now.  Time.Slow.Down.Please.  I've seen my bright-eyed, strong-willed, boo-bear grow into a young man before my eyes.  I've seen him grow through struggles and seasons that many adults get stuck in.  He has insight and wisdom far beyond his years.  I am blessed to call him son.  

Kedric, this is for you. I'm speaking to you in one of your love languages...song lyrics :)  I hope you know that the thought crossed my mind to actually work with one of our guitarist friends and actually sing all of them to you tonight at your party.  You can thank me later for choosing to blog instead :)  Maybe they'll be an extra $20 in your card tomorrow if you can give me all the song titles :)  

Don't stop believin!  

If this world makes you crazy and you've taken all you can then, you call me up, cause you know I"ll be there.  

I believe you can fly.  I believe you can touch the sky.  

Pretty pretty please, don't you ever ever think, that your nothin, you are perfect to me.  

When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, I'll be there for you.  When the rain starts to fall, I'll be there for you.  Like I've been there before, I'll be there for you.  

For you I will lay my life on the line.  For you I will follow.  For you I will die.  With everything, my heart my soul, I'll give my world I'll give it all. 

And I thank you for choosing me, to come through and delight to be the beautiful reflection of His grace.  See I know that a gift so great is only one God could create and I'm reminded every time I see your face.  

You'll always be my baby.  Do do do oh.  Do do do di do do dooh yeah. Do do do oh.  Yeah you'll always be my baby. :)


Some pics from tonight's celebration!  If you missed it, please send Kedric some love via Facebook or Instagram (@kedricwlal)