RETHINKING WHO I AM

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Identity. Whoever we think we are shapes our view of the world. It is a point of view. Point of viewing everything else. It is a controlling factor in how we make choices, what we grasp for, what we hold tightly to. It directs us. Blinds us. Makes us… or defeats us. So I need to think carefully about who I am.

I am not a homeschool mom.

Feels strange to write that.

I have homeschooled my kids for 18 years.

And I have loved homeschooling. When people asked how it was going, I would light up and say, “I’m learning so much! Oh, and my kids are doing great too….”

I used to read curriculum magazines for fun. And I made the most wonderful, lasting friendships in that community.

But lately, homeschooling wasn’t working as well for my family, and it was beginning to threaten my way of life.

It happened gradually. I just didn’t think my children were thriving. They were passing…but not becoming.

And so the “S” word became a topic of conversation. And prayer.

For several years in a row I prayed about School. My husband prayed. My mother prayed. My mother-in-law prayed. It just became a part of the fabric of my prayer life. “Lord, if school is the best thing for my kids….”

But it always stopped there. Once we visited a local Christian school. But that was it.

And so I began my school year last fall with this prayer: “Lord, I’m homeschooling again this year. (Surprise.) But Lord, if you know that school is really the right change for my children, please give me overwhelming wisdom.” That was my prayer. Overwhelming wisdom. I reasoned with God that a little wisdom wouldn’t get me there. My inner gravitational pull was toward homeschooling. I loved it. And I knew it. Only overwhelming wisdom could compel me to take a different direction.

That school year was a testimony to Overwhelming Wisdom.

It came in many ways, but this one was key.

It was One of Those Days. Kids were bickering. Lessons were limping. Even a belligerent No came from my children on that morning.

This isn’t working, fear gripped my heart.

I looked directly into the angry face of one of my children and thought, You are ruining my vision for my life.

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THE CURE FOR ENVY

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There are just so many things I want. They are not bad things. In fact it’s all pretty normal stuff. But I look around and it seems like everyone else has them.

And that hurts.

I look around, and I think…

I want your house. It’s in the perfect location. Always clean. No chipped paint. So up to date and well-decorated.

I want your job. Your significance. My life of mundane tasks feels so infinitely unimportant.

I want your family. It seems so put together and cohesive. Mine is complicated and a lot of work.

And -I want your community. I have many life-long friends, but they are spread out on different continents and in different cities and in different circles. I’m feeling alone. For once, I want a crowd.

So here I am, filled with all these empty thoughts, and it’s beginning to feel a bit like Envy. Like, you don’t deserve all those things. And you think you’ve earned them. And, I’m not going to help you get even more.

“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” (James 3:16)

I’ll say.

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A THEOLOGY OF RAIN

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I went to two weddings in the last few weeks. Both were family weddings. Both were Christian weddings. Both were outdoor weddings.

The second wedding was all sunshine. But the first wedding rained.

A couple weeks before each wedding, I started to pray for good weather. I watched the weather app on my smartphone. The locations were saved so I could access them easily.

When we arrived at the first wedding, the clouds looked a little ominous. I opened my app to consult the radar. Then there was a sort of misty wetness. Good thing I brought my coat. Then a light rain. And my umbrella. By the time the wedding was over, it was a steady rain.

Believe it or not, it was a barefoot wedding. I kept my shoes on.

As we sat there waiting for the wedding to start, I wondered, how’s the pastor going to handle this one? He was a youngish, optimistic looking guy. But he was a piece of work, in the best sort of way.

He began by welcoming us all with only a passing mention of the weather. Later, he was forced to acknowledge the situation, but he was undaunted. I don’t know if he googled them, but he had a lot of ready Bible verses about the blessing of rain.

At one point, my husband whispered there might be lightning, but it turned out to be only the flash photography.

And I wondered, why. Everyone was praying for a sunny day. At least a dry day. This sweet, Christian couple with all their hopes and plans…. Why rain, Lord?

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RAISING A DAUGHTER WITH AUTISM: GRACE MIXED WITH GRIEF

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I see a blue and white comforter spread across my lap when I remember the beginning of this journey. How appropriate. Who knew that Blue would be the color of Autism Awareness Month so many years later….

I was waiting for the phone call. My husband had met with the surgeon the day before, and now he paced the sterile halls of Johns Hopkins Hospital waiting for word of how it had gone.

“We need to finish the heart surgery in 20 minutes. At 25 minutes, she will lose the function of her legs. At 30 minutes ….” He had informed us.

How we prayed! How we watched the clock tick by!

My sweet baby was only four days old. Five pounds was all she was, but every ounce was precious to us. We called her Grace.

We knew while I was pregnant that something wasn’t right. The day after she was born we met with a specialist who laid it out for us. Correctable heart defects now, possible kidney issues, hearing would probably be a concern. Oh, and growth and thyroid to watch for.

No one knew that autism would be added to the list, or that autism would end up being the biggest concern of all.

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ZOMBIES OR JESUS

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I had a terrible fall semester.

Started out all wrong. First of all, I ended the summer feeling – not rested, which scared me. I home school my kids, and I think we should at least START the year with a bang….

And before the first day of school, one of my daughters got pneumonia and another daughter broke her arm. (“She may get full motion back with lots of physical therapy,” the doctor tells me. Oh great! I’ve got plenty of time and energy for that!)

And then a couple months later, my adult daughter with disabilities had her first grand mal seizure in a public place. Ambulances. Emergency rooms. Cat scans.

Finally, the day after Thanksgiving, as I stood in line on my favorite shopping day of the year, I felt a wave sweep over me. Uh, oh. I hope I’m not coming down with something…. But I was. I had some sort of virus that lasted until after Christmas.

I look back on that holiday season as my most secular Christmas ever. I felt so depleted and I had so much to do, that I never even set up our Advent wreath. I didn’t do any of my traditional Advent readings, and I never sang “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

I thought, I’m not gonna make it. So many sighs. So many questions.

But then – I saw what I needed. Funny how that happens….

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