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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I believe the last time I mentioned the foster care process it was stalled. At this point I’d say it is dead in the water. Not long after we started the process G’s unit received alert orders that they would be deployed. At the time it was a year out so we thought we’d go ahead and foster for a year until he departed. We waffled a bit, went ahead and took the CPR class, then stalled. Frankly, I realized that as long as G is First Sargent here, he is not really available for family – he’s not ours. It eventually reached a point where I couldn’t even count on him to take B twice a month while I went to Bible study. Therefore, foster care would be all mine all the time.

Now I’m not meaning to complain about G. That is just where we are right now. Not to mention the rough waters we just came through with G’s mom the last few months of ’08. I had to come to terms with the fact that foster care was more than I could handle all by myself, and would add stress to G’s already maxed out life, as well. So, that is where we are. Perhaps after deployment, when G ends his military career, we will begin again.

In the meantime I think prayer and soul searching are in order. We really thought this was where God was calling us, but have found ourselves to be in error. Perhaps He’s just preparing us for something down the road. Who knows, at this point. Our steps have not led where I thought they were going, and I’m resigning myself to B being an only child for a little while longer. And that’s not proving to be so bad, for now.

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A Beautiful Life

Well, I haven’t been by here in many months. I can’t really offer much in the way of excuses. Although we did just suffer a great loss in October. If you read through past entries, you may notice comments by “Ann.” That was my mother-in-law. I can honestly say I was blessed to have her in my life and loved her dearly, as did everyone that knew her, I think. On October 14, 2008, she went on ahead of us to the home Jesus apparently had ready for her.

From about April, I think, maybe earlier, her health had been on a steady decline. She had been diagnosed the previous year with Pulmonary Fibrosis, and was also battling a severe flare-up of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is daunting to think of the pain she was living with each day. Did you know that can also attack the lungs? So, between the two, the doctors were hard pressed to figure out what to treat.

I could go on for some time with all the details of the final months leading up to October 14. But none of that really matters anymore. She is in a better place and a better state, now. In spite of how much I miss her – I miss hearing her sweet voice on the phone, I miss her company when she came to visit, I miss her cards and emails and comments here. But no matter how much it hurts for all the missing, I would not call her back here for anything. That would be calling her back to live with her sinful nature (that which we all battle), to live with her physical pain, and to live in this ever frustrating fallen world. How selfish would that be? She’s with her Lord and Savior, now. The one who made her and loves her more than any of us here even know how to do. I can’t even begin to imagine how beautiful is the place He made ready for her homecoming. She’s home. How wonderful is that?

Ann, I love you and I miss you terribly. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother-in-law. I don’t know how much longer God has for me here. But I’ll be looking forward to the day when I get to go home, too. Right after I see Jesus, I’ll be looking for you and expecting a big hug. Save me a place at the banquet table, OK?

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For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.                 Hebrews 13:11-16

Recently, while teaching on 2 Thessalonians, my pastor made reference to the above passage in Hebrews. He was speaking of standing firm in the promises of the gospel in the midst of persecution (1:1-12). He had recently attended a conference where John Piper spoke on the Hebrew passage and asked whether we are willing to go outside the gate. What does that say about us in America that we don’t know persecution? There are many passages that speak of it. It seems it should be something to be expected if we are following Christ (John 15:18-25). But here in this place, whether in the city, the suburbs, or the country, do we really ever suffer persecution? Why is that? Is it because we are not willing to go outside the gate and “bear the reproach He endured?”

I am very convicted on this as I have struggled with whether to proceed with becoming foster parents. But my delimna is that my husband, who is the leader of this family, has not taken the lead on that front. I’ve been wondering whether that is my “outside the gate” or not. I could easily move forward and complete the paperwork on my own, schedule the interviews and tell him when to be here. But is that the right thing to do? None the less, I have to admit I have not been willing to find that gate and proceed out of it to endure the sufferrings of Christ.

Whether or not the foster care is what we are supposed to be doing at this moment in time, I know there is something. But I haven’t really wanted to find it that badly. I’ve been perfectly content to carry on in my own little comfort zone.  God clearly spoke to us back in October during our church’s Missions Conference that our mission field is right here. But I’m still not sure I’m on the right track for that calling. Since G has a deployment on the horizon and his parents are having some health challenges requiring our attention, I’m not sure that foster care is for this time. I have gotten involved in a local food pantry and work there with B each week. Perhaps the gate is there? Or is it at the new Pregnancy Resource Center that just opened nearby? Is it a neighbor that is struggling with cancer? Or is it right in my own family caring for aging parents? Whatever it is, am I willing to go outside the gate?

I am not the only one pondering these things. There’s a discussion on the FIAR boards, where someone mentioned this blog post: What Can We Do? That is what spurred me on here. She brings up some issues that I haven’t even considered. We have become so detached, so unaware of what is going on in our own cities, much less across the world. Sure, we all say how busy and overwhelmed we are. But are we filling up our time and our minds with the right things? What is really important? And how much of what we are consumed with is just “fluff?” It seems we put up barriers to the gate to block our view of it and avoid it altogether. Are we content in the city of destruction (for here we have no lasting city) or are we seeking the “city that is to come?” Where is the gate, and what will it take to go through it?

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Stewardship of my time and home is one of those ongoing challenges in my life. A few days ago I purchased the Motivated Mom’s chore list to help get me on track developing chore routines and stop so much from falling through the cracks. So far it looks like it will help. They’ve thought of so many things that I do struggle to remember, from cleaning the toaster to trimming B’s nails (not to mention my own!). These efforts have kept me from spending as much time in blogland as I used to. Sometimes I feel guilty about that;and I miss reading some of my favorite blogs. But I think I have my priorities straight. I do take some time each day to check on the FIAR boards and ran across this blog-post today: Why Bother? Here’s one quote, among so many wise thoughts:

I want to be a gracious wife, not just a gracious hostess. Not just a lovely face to the public, but a comfort and a blessing to my husband. So, why bother with homemaking? Because God call us to be virtuous wives and He tells us that virtuous wives live in well-ordered homes.

As she says after that, ouch! After 18 years of marriage I still have so far to go. I’ve recently begun a mentoring relationship and often wonder what in the world I’m doing trying to mentor someone else. I may be 9 years older than my mentee, but I certainly very often don’t feel any wiser or more established. Actually, she has four kids, three of which are older than my one, and has been homeschooling much longer than I. And I’m supposed to mentor her?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a beautiful experience and we have a wonderful relationship. Basically, we’re in the same stage of life, and have many of the same struggles and goals for ourselves. We’re walking along side one another and encouraging each other along the way. It’s just that title of “Mentor” that gets me sometimes. I have to remember that it’s not about being perfect or having it all together. I have often likened myself to a cactus. My personal growth at times seems so painfully slow. But I am growing, and God is using me in spite of my many weaknesses and shortcomings.  That is encouraging

These past few months since the move have really clarified my priorities. Through G’s encouragement, I know I should keep this blog. Although I have had to greatly reduce how much time I spend here, and virtually stop reading other blogs. As much as I miss those blog friends, the “real-life” face to face people in my own home and community are my priority. Perhaps in another season, after I grow some more, I’ll be able to spend time reading all those wonderful blogs again. Until then, I am more focused on my family and local community and will write here as the spirit leads.

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I’ve avoided the subject of our application process to become foster parents. Frankly, we have stalled in the process. After completing the classes and the background check (complete with finger prints) and taking the CPR classes, we stalled on completing the paper work. I’ve mentioned before, I think, that G is completely consumed with his First Sargent duties. I have not pushed to complete the process because, really, I don’t want to do this by myself. I want him to be involved; I want him to take the lead.

This week I did inquire about it and he said he wanted to continue the process. The news of the Eldorado case had him thinking about it again. The next day the agency called to check if we were still interested. Funny how that worked. I told them that we had been discussing it and committed to having our paperwork completed by the end of the week. Yikes – that might be a little ambitious. So, will we get it done? Will G be able to shift some of his focus and energy back towards home? I want to be obedient to God’s calling and follow my husband’s leadership. I can’t see the next stepping stone, should I put my foot out and take the step? Deep breath.

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It is almost upon us again! Time to turn off that TV for a whole week and see what happens. Yes, National TV Turn-Off week is less than a month away: April 21-27. I just picked up a great book: 365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do With Your Child from Paper Back Swap. There are all kinds of books like that if folks need help with ideas for filling all that time you’re not watching TV. But I have faith that you can come up with your own ideas – each family has their own unique personality. Here’s another great resource: Unplug Your Kids. Come on! You can do it! And you’ll be glad you did.

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I once made a comment while chatting with a fellow homeschool mom that, in thinking about how we would homeschool, I was somewhere between the classical model and unschooling. I remember her eyebrows going up and stating something about those being on opposite ends of the spectrum. I realized she was right and felt a little foolish at my comment. But, as I’ve been reading further, I am finding some overlap in the different methods. I recently read a wonderful book: Homeschooling Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles. I would highly recommend this book. I gained a better understanding of some of the different methods, and why people choose them.

In this book, Mary Hood and  the Moores writings are in the chapter on unschooling. However, I’m attending a conference by Mary Hood next month which states in the description that Relaxed Home Schooling is NOT Unschooling. The Clarksons have their own chapter, called Whole-Heart Learning, separate from the Charlotte Mason chapter. Yet their books are recommended by others for learning how to implement the Charlotte Mason method. So, now I’m thinking I wasn’t too far off in seeing some good things in classical as well as more relaxed models, and so much in between.

Although I have been inspired and learned a great deal from John Holt, I know pure unschooling is definitely not a good fit for me and B. On the other hand, classical is too school-like for my tastes with all the rote memorization in the earlier years. I have mentioned the Beechick methods before. I really like the emphasis on readiness, and approaching language and math in a more natural manner – much of learning happening during normal everyday living. I love the emphasis Charlotte Mason places on developing habits – I would call it building character. I also love the preference for “real” books over text books. We have already been enjoying some wonderful literature together, thanks to Five in a Row. So that seems a natural fit for us.

I have been circling for a while, taking in all the methods and appreciating what is good in each one. But, now I am coming in for a landing around Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason. Although they are not exactly alike in their methodology and thinking, it seems they are very similar. So now my focus has narrowed to learning more about these specific methods and what it will look like to implement some of their ideas in our family’s education. I found a local CM group that actually meets once each month to discuss just that – women after my own heart! 🙂 I knew it was the right group for me when, as I approached, I noticed a crate full of books sitting in the middle of the table.

I guess you could say I’ve been living and breathing homeschool lately. I think that will subside as I begin to gather my thoughts and feel like I have some direction as we look toward the more “official” school age with B. That hasn’t been my sole focus, although it’s all I’ve posted about here in a while. I am also reading a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss for my personal spiritual life (A Place of Quiet Rest) and making fits and starts at a prayer journal. Life is becoming more busy as new friendships are growing and I’m becoming more active in various groups in the community. I guess you could say we’re getting settled here – and that feels pretty good.

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