My life is that of an unassuming, boring housewife and mom to some extraordinary kids. What you don’t know is that I have an alter-ego. I am Superman. I am faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and yes, I can fly. Not only can I do these things, but I can fix a leaking toilet, change the oil in my car, juggle the household finances, kiss boo-boos, protect my family with a shield of iron, and handle a schedule on four hours of sleep that most would never dare to attempt. Most of the parents I know also claim to be Superman, or at least act like him, but there can only be one…me.
The last four days have seen boulders of Kryptonite being hurled at me from some unseen enemy. At first, I was to dodge them and maintain my superpowers at full strength. Little by little small pebbles of the dastardly, poisonous rock began to ricochet off of me and my powers began to weaken. Yesterday, one chunk hit me square in the face and sapped what was left of my super-human abilities. Before that final stone struck, I was finally able to see my enemy. His name is Life.
Before Life made his appearance to me, he was giving my girls a hard time. Normally I can assist them in these small traps set by the enemy; help them to dodge it or face the siege head on and fight. This time was different. When the enemy saw me pull out my shield to protect them, he sent a barrage of Kryptonite like I have never seen before. I have been left incapacitated; devoid of all power.
Or have I? In these certain situations, I may not being able to fix things. I may not be able to protect them, but I have been left with a few abilities that maybe I don’t use as often as I should. I can listen to their fears when they have the courage to tell me. I can listen to their hurts and hold them when the tears come. I can hold their hand as they wrestle with Life on their own. And I can pray for them. That is the most powerful, super-human weapon in my arsenal.
Sometimes it is so painful to hear and see when they struggle; I want to jump in there and save them, do whatever it takes to make it all better. I am a mom. It’s what I do. But I now understand that sometimes by wielding my super-human powers, I have interfered with what Life was trying to teach them. They need to learn how to stand on their own, face the consequences of a bad decision, and to love in the face of hatred. I know it is time to take a step back, take off my Superman outfit and let them learn to fight on their own.
At times during this journey called parenthood I have soared, tackled problems that seemed as insurmountable as a tall buildings, and discovered that Life moves much faster than I. Most importantly, I discovered that I am not really Superman. I’m just a mom who loves her kids.
I was sitting here thinking about the difference between being loved and being valued. Ten minutes ago I realized that value and performance go hand-in-hand for me. Most aspects of my life deal with performance. I absolutely believe that everything I do should be done with excellence. That’s my standard: excellence. Perfection. I don’t hold anyone else to that standard though…just me.
As a control freak, it dawned on me that I have no control because I’m performance-driven. Being performance-driven means that I am easily manipulated and deceived by others and, even worse, by myself. I’m disgusted by this little epiphany. It sickens me.
That’s all. I have to think about this for a little while…
I have a friend from back in my Navy days that recently posted on Facebook that she is old. She doesn’t want to be old. I replied that I thought growing older was awesome. When she asked me how, I didn’t respond. It just is….for me anyway.
In some respects, aging really stinks. This tent of a body seems hell-bent on falling apart. Deep crevices have appeared in the lower part of my forehead. Little nests of wrinkles have found a home near my eyes and mouth. Gravity has taken a hold of areas on my body that I do not appreciate. As I begin to gain weight, the area of deposit has shift from areas that once gave me more voluptuous curves, to only my stomach. Gray hairs are no longer appearing in single streaks, but are gathering in little communes across my head. My poor hands look ancient from years of work. The mirror is no longer my friend. Some of the food I love, no longer love me. Too much coffee makes me nauseous. Spicy foods have their revenge during the night. I wake in the morning and most every bone in my body cracks. My bladder no longer likes it when I laugh, scream, run, cough or sneeze too much. The idea of one day having to do something about it makes me cringe. The body only last for so long, and there comes a point in life that it begins to let you know that it will not last forever. This is the part of aging I do not like, but I don’t hate it either. I just understand it is part of the process of living.
There are other aspects of growing older that I treasure. First of all, I now have the privilege of watching my children grow into adults. There are days it is frustrating and painful, but watching the process itself is like watching the flowers bloom in the spring. And it is beautiful! Secondly, as my youngest nears adulthood and prepares to leave the nest, ours job as parents will change. My husband and I will have completed the most daunting and challenging job in our lives: raising a child. When she goes out into the world as an independent young woman, it ushers in a new age in our marriage. Though we will miss having her home daily, we know that we have done our best and now get to watch her grow, make her own decisions, and be accountable for her own life. There is such a unique beauty in this. With this phase in my daughter’s life nearing, it brings with it a new intimacy in my marriage. My husband and I will be alone. It may sound sad, but we are waiting expectantly for this new era. Another thing I am looking forward to is that one day (though not too soon, please), my name will change to Gramma. I have the opportunity to be that gramma, and I am looking forward to it! I love this part of aging so much that most of the time I am able to ignore the physical failings of my body. It is because of these things that I willingly embrace every birthday that comes.
The final part of aging that I love is one of a spiritual nature. Looking back on a very difficult life filled with right and wrong choices, consequences and blessings, knowledge and experience are shifting to become wisdom. It is through these experiences that I have grown. With that wisdom comes the ability to see life as God intended it to be. It is a deep-seated wisdom that fills me with a kind of peaceful happiness. I have learned what it means to be content. It fills me with awe for my God who has blessed me so much just by giving me breath; by allowing me to continue this journey. I understand in the depths of my soul that, at some point, I really did have to trade my ashes for beauty. Not just the ashes of my own life, but the ashes of the world around me. He has blessed me by allowing me to see life through His eyes…and it fills me with an indescribable joy! This part of aging I wouldn’t trade for the world!
Growing older is part of life. So when people tease me about my age now, I just laugh…and pee myself a little.
Yesterday afternoon my husband went out to the coop to collect the eggs. We have Rhode Island Reds and Black Australorps, and they all lay brown eggs; at least they are supposed to. He returned with eight brown eggs and one white egg. We are new to the chicken game, so we got a little chuckle out of it. Eventually I had to research why one of the chickens laid a white egg as a precaution. We didn’t want to eat an egg that had some sort of lethal, people-killing virus!
This morning as I was cleaning the eggs and putting them away, I got to thinking about the white egg. You see, nothing was wrong with it. It was not lethal; it wouldn’t hurt any of us. It was just different. While the egg was being formed, there was a hiccup in the process and it came out white. But what was our reaction? At first we laughed because it was different, and then we were a little scared that the difference in that egg would somehow harm us. But at the end of the day, it was just an egg.
In the recent past, I have treated people who were different from me the same way. My initial reaction to them was the same as my reaction to the white egg: I laughed at them. I made fun of them. It didn’t matter if they were Christians or Atheists, black or white, gay or straight, homeschool families or public school families. If there was a difference to be found, I found it, highlighted it, and preyed upon it because I found it amusing.
The second reaction to those who were different was one of fear. I decided that the Christians would take over the government, the African Americans were all suspect, lesbians would desire me, and homeschool families would ruin public education. Becoming a Christian did not erase my fears; it only changed some of them. Now I feared that the government would be overtaken by secularists, the African Americans were still suspect, gay people would somehow destroy my marriage, and public education would prevent my daughter from retaining her Christianity. Yes, I was that ridiculous….sometimes I still am.
God has a huge sense of humor when dealing with me! Most of the things I feared, I became. But the more intimate relationship I have with Him, the more I understand His love for others and that my life should be one that reflects His love, not my idea of what love is.
The lesson God taught me from the egg?
Sometimes our shells look different, but we are the same in the eyes of God.
God does not play favorites. Romans 2:11 GWT Neither should we.
I have brushed the topic a few times; have alluded to my beliefs, but always tried desperately not to state them plainly. Honestly, I have been terrified to write about it; absolutely scared to death. First, the backlash will come quickly. If I have felt ostracized already, this will take it to all new heights. I’m not a fan of rejection. It hurts even when I pretend it doesn’t. Secondly, I worry for my family. I worry that my beliefs will affect them negatively in the community. We have already had a few instances where I have voiced an opinion publicly and they have felt the sting of rejection. Most importantly, I fear that I will not do the LGBT community justice; that I will not have the correct words to communicate what I feel in a manner that would ever, ever serve them in a way they deserve.
I do not remember how I felt about homosexuality before becoming a Christian. I don’t know if I even had an opinion. If I did, it must not have been incredibly important to me. It has been since becoming part of the Evangelical/Charismatic/Pentecostal church that I have formed my beliefs and opinions. These were based on the words in the Bible. Since I had been taught that the Bible was the true, literal Word of God, whether or not homosexuality was a sin was not a question in my mind: it was.
I have family members who are gay, and as I became more involved with the religion of my church, I became less involved with them. My view of them shifted from mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle or cousin to GAY. My relationships with them went from one of familial love to one viewed through the filter of judgment. They were wrong. They were ungodly. They were sinners. They were going to hell. In my religious fervor, I was kind enough to let some of them know it.
As I have come to discover who Jesus is, what He taught and the examples He has given me, things have changed. For the first time in my life, I listened to their stories. I have seen how they have been treated by their own family members, how they have been cast from their communities, and how deeply they have been hurt by their churches. Their stories are heartbreaking. Many are filled with rejection, humiliation and pain. Their stories are now blended with mine and cannot be separated. The filters, the scales, have been removed from my eyes.
The easiest thing to do now would be to say nothing; do nothing. They know I love them and support them. Isn’t that enough?
No, it is not.
To my family and friends in the LGBT community, including those whom I have yet to meet: I am so, so, so sorry for the way I judged you, for condemning you and seeing you as less of a person. I am sorry for excluding you from a community that should embrace you. For saying I loved you, and never showing or meaning it. I am sorry that I believed that your pain was not mine and didn’t apply to me; for being apathetic. I am sorry for teaching my children to hate you, to stay away from you. I don’t have enough words to express the depth of my sorrow for my actions against you, whether directly or indirectly. I beg for your forgiveness.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me… Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Matthew 25:35-36, 40
Our lives are made up of a million little stories. Some of the stories may seem small and insignificant; having little impact on ourselves or others. Other stories have been so significant that they have changed who we are or how we view ourselves, others, and our world. They are filled with tragedy, sadness, joy, and laughter. Our stories remind us of our mistakes and our greatest victories. These stories create the book of our life. It is not by reading one chapter that we begin to understand a person, but in reading their book from cover to cover.
What of the story of a young woman who had an abortion? Do we read any other part of her book, or do we judge her life based on the one event? Do we stop reading because we’ve branded her a murderer? What of the story of the gay man fighting for equality? Did you read the whole book, or did the one story of his homosexuality make you put his book down in disgust? What about the kid living in the projects that sells weed on the corner? Did you take the time to find out why?
I cannot stand it, find it beyond irritating, when someone judges me based on one event in my life, yet it has been very easy for me to do the exact same thing to someone else! I believe many, many…pretty much all…people do this from time to time. What a mistake! When we only read a couple of selected stories in a person’s life, we hold that person captive in that one single chapter. We never know what happened before, and we never read the rest of their book. When we judge someone based on one story, we prevent others from sharing their stories and books. They live in fear that we will judge them just as harshly, and their stories go untold.
We have a tendency to believe that the most important stories are the ones we write, but it is in reading the books written by others that we are changed.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 ESV
We made the decision to homeschool our daughter after Kindergarten. The number one reason was because we felt that the curriculum at the school was too slow and kept her from reaching her potential. In class, they were teaching the kids how to sound out little words; she could already read. They were teaching the kids how to print; having mastered that, she wanted to learn cursive. By the middle of her Kindergarten year, she had learned nothing new and this presented a problem: she was bored. Her boredom led to some behavioral issues; nothing major-she just stopped paying attention. We tried to supplement at home and encourage her to learn new things. My husband and I feared that she would lose her love of learning, and view school as a chore instead of something exciting to enjoy.
The second reason we homeschooled was because we were a military family. In the eight years we have been homeschooling, we have moved six times. Growing up, I went to 12 different schools in four states, and it was beyond difficult on every level: educationally, emotionally, and socially. I didn’t want that for my daughter. I wanted her to have some sort of stability in this crazy lifestyle of ours.
I could sit here and list a thousand reasons to homeschool your children. I could show you statistics that prove homeschooled kids test higher on standardized testing. I could tell you that not only does the military actively seek homeschool graduates, but colleges as well; and not just Christian colleges. But, you can look this up for yourselves, and I would encourage you to do so. Homeschooling is a great option for some families.
The reaction from our friends and family was, for the most part, negative. They had many concerns: What about socialization? How will my daughter be able to separate her teacher from her mom? It’s unhealthy for my child to be with me every day. She’ll be isolated. She’ll be socially inept. Not only did they question her future, but they also questioned my ability. While I have almost five years of college, I do not hold a degree in teaching; therefore, I could not possibly teach my daughter. I will ruin her, ruin her chances of going to college, and she’ll end up as an uneducated, therapy-going, freak of an adult. We took the plunge anyway.
Some were concerned because we are Christians, and there is most definitely a stereotype for Christian homeschoolers and their parents. People tend to view Christian homeschoolers as isolationists. They think all homeschool kids are weird because we teach them to be in the world, not of the world. They think all Christian homeschool parents hide real life from their kids, so that when they grow up, they’ll be dysfunctional. Yes, there are some parents who do that. I’m not one of them. I am not a fan of Christian textbooks and believe you can raise your child to be strong in her faith without using them all of the time. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m not a stereotypical Christian. Our Christian faith was not the reason we began homeschooling, but it has certainly sustained us throughout the journey.
It has always been important to me to teach my daughter how to think for herself; make her own decisions. Evolution was taught alongside Intelligent Design and Creationism, but we never told her what she had to believe. We taught her about sexuality, homosexuality and every other sexuality that we knew of, and never told her what she had to believe. We taught her about Christianity, Islam and Buddhism and never taught her what to believe. There is nothing of this world we have hidden from her. We gave the good, the bad, and the ugly. We taught her love, and gave her a life filled with examples. We gave her an education “in context.” She is strong in her faith and one of the most loving, accepting kids I know. These are things they can’t do in school, but we could do them at home.
Homeschooling my daughter has been incredibly stressful. It has been scary. The last thing I want to do is completely screw up my kid’s education or destroy her chances of being able to get into the college of her dreams. I don’t want her to sit in a therapist’s office when she is 30 years old trying to recover from the damage I’d done. I don’t want her to hate me. These fears have always been tucked away in the back of my mind.
Next year there will be one huge change in our homeschooling journey: it ends.
I think I am a pretty decent homeschool mom. But being a “good” homeschooling mom also means knowing when it is time to stop. For some, it doesn’t and they can continue through high school. For us, we are finished. To continue at this point would be detrimental to her education. To force the issue at this point means I’ve let my ego be more important, and her education is the only reason we started this. It’s just time…and you know what? It’s okay.
As I look back, I am amazed at what we have accomplished together. We went from 1+1 to Algebra; from learning how to write in cursive to analyzing literature! It has been such an incredible experience! Looking back fills me with pride, with joy, and with peace. It’s time to look forward now.
I look at her excitement over her first year in high school, and I am filled to overflowing with pride! I am proud of what we both have accomplished over the last eight years. I am so proud of the young lady she has become, and yes, I am even proud of her decision to go to school.
Am I anxious? Yeah, I am. I will probably stand at the door sobbing when she gets on the school bus next August. When I think about it now, I tear up. But I know the same God who got us through this part of our journey will get her through the next part of her journey. As much as I want her to be “successful” in her education and this life, He wants it for her even more. He withholds no good thing from those who love Him.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. ~Ecclesiastes 3:1
Recently someone told me that the gospel being preached in America was one of too much grace. The Old Testament laws are not preached or enforced enough, and this has allowed our churches to accept and tolerate people who do not live up to God’s standards for us as Christians. I know my jaw dropped for a moment as I tried to recuperate from what he had just said to me. The gears in my brain have been churning ever since. Is there such a thing as too much grace?
The Law came to us through a man….but grace and truth came to us through the Son of God. Which is the greater of the two? It’s not that the Law is not important. It is. It was given to us to show us our need for a Savior. The law made no room for grace, only for forgiveness through sacrifice; by what we did. It gave us incredible punishments for sin. No person has ever or will ever be able to keep the whole Law; bits and pieces here and there, yes, but every law? Nope, not even close. This is where grace steps in. God knows we aren’t able to follow the rules, so He gives us grace; grace upon grace.
In Corinthians chapters six and ten, Paul tells us that “everything is permissible….but not all are beneficial.” Everything is permissible. Your choice may not be a good one, and there may be consequences, but the decisions are still yours to make: good, bad or indifferent. There are going to be times that the decision you make is not helpful, not constructive, or not beneficial. Grace covers our mistakes. His grace is sufficient.
Without grace, what would be the point of needing a savior? What would be the point of Christ’s death or resurrection? Without grace, perfection is required of us. We would have to live our lives through Leviticus. Imagine what it would feel like knowing that no matter what we did, even the smallest misstep, punishment or sacrifice would be required. Imagine a life where one unintentional act would make you unclean; one mistake and you were ostracized from the communtiy.
If you take the time to compare the Old Testament and the New Testament, grace is only mentioned a handful of times in the Old Testament. On a couple of occasions, an individual found grace in the sight of God. For the most part, the word “grace” is seen in Psalms and Proverbs, or it foreshadows the coming grace through Christ. In the New Testament, however, that grace is realized through the death of Jesus. We have been given forgiveness for sins; for our mistakes. We have been placed under the law of liberty. We are free.
What does the law of liberty mean to us today? Does it mean we should keep intentionally sinning because we have grace? No, but it means we have forgiveness when we screw up without something or someone having to die, without having sit outside the city gates until someone else tells us we are clean again.
This incredible grace also gives us the ability to see other people in a different light. We are now able to see through the eyes of His grace. Seeing them through grace-filled eyes allows us to accept them as they are: differences, mistakes and all. It is our choice, though. Too often we make the wrong choice when it comes to others. We want to hoard the grace given to us; keep it as our own. We have a tendency to judge the behavior of others through the eyes of Old Testament law, but apply the law of liberty to our lives. And, you know what? Grace even allows us to do that, too.
While we are busy judging the actions of a person, God is judging their heart. That is something we should never attempt to do. No man can truly know the heart of another. When we waste our time deciding what sin is for another person, when we don’t live lives of grace and extend that grace to others, what happens? I believe if it is not grace we are giving, then it is condemnation. If it condemnation we are giving then we have rendered the Gospel ineffective in our own lives.
Is there such a thing as too much grace? We all need grace. I need grace. I love that He extends it to me every second of every hour of every day. It removes the need to be perfect. It lets me know that I am allowed to make mistakes. More than anything, the grace He has so graciously given me, I can pass on to others so that they, too, can share in the goodness of God and the love of an incredible Savior.
His grace is sufficient. His grace is enough. It is more than enough. And there can never be too much grace that He can give to us…or too much grace that we can give to others.
John 1:16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.