Wednesday, February 17, 2010

God's Word is Like a Smoke Detector

My main priority in homeschooling N is to focus first and foremost on his character-not academics. So even though we're taking it easy on the "official" learning for now, there are so many opportunities in our day in/day out lives that lend themselves to a teachable moment. And this just so happened to be one of them...

N and I had started our devotional this morning by reading this Bible verse: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16,17

This was the second verse: "But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says." James 1:22

As if on cue, the smoke detector in my bedroom started beeping its low battery warning! Can we say, "Teachable moment?"

I told N, "Pretend that we never changed out the battery-we ignored the warning. Then, if the house ever caught on fire, would the smoke detector be able to do its job and wake you up, alerting you to danger? It's the same thing with the Bible. His word is full of instructions, warnings-alerting you to dangers, encouragements and directions for how to live our lives and to keep us out of danger; but if we're not reading His word and putting it into practice, it doesn't do us any good either!"

And better yet, God's Word doesn't run on batteries! It's always fully charged. ;)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm Bringing Home My Baby!

No, I didn't just give birth!

After lots of prodding by the Holy Spirit, prayers for discernment and wisdom (and lots of courage), P and I have finally made the decision to pull N out of public school.

Why, you ask? Well, do you want the short version or the long version?

The short version goes like this, "God told us to!"

The longer version goes like this (you may want to pull up a seat and stay a while for this one):

"We placed N in PPCD back in the Fall of 2004. It was a year filled with much anxiety, fear, frustration, trips to the principal, etc, but yet, looking back, it was by far his best year of the 6! He should have come home a long time ago! I homeschooled our oldest 2, J & E, for a couple of years and really enjoyed it. But N needed some extra help that I didn't feel I was prepared to give him at the time-and to be quite honest, I needed a break! So, off to school he went. After the year in PPCD was completed, we made the decision to put J & E in public school, but I felt God leading me to pull Noah back out and bring him home with me. P didn't agree (and being the leader of the household, we did what he thought was best and let him continue on in Kinder).

Each year has progressively gotten worse...we've had so many talks with the teachers, visits with the principals, ISS days, swats, lunch detentions, apologies to other name it, we've done it! My mind is literally boggled at the thought of all we've been through-I may write a book one day. ;) All the while, I felt God telling me to pull him out. Yet, P was adamantly opposed to the idea. So anytime the thought of homeschooling came to mind, I would just tell God, "I hear you, but you're going to have to change P's heart. There's nothing I can do."

Well, a few months ago, I got a(nother) phone call from the PE teacher telling me everything N had been doing that day in class. I got really frustrated with him and under my breath mumbled, "What am I going to DO with him???" Then God very plainly said, "It is NOT what are you going to do WITH him! He is NOT the problem. It's about to be what are you going to do FOR him!?" Very humbled, I apologized and then started grappling about in fear with questions..."But God, I can't even teach 3rd grade!!" Again, I heard his voice say, "He's not even on a 3rd grade level!" I started getting excited about the thought, but once again, told him, "You're going to have to talk to P about that one." A few minutes later, P came to pick me up for a lunch date, and as we sat talking, I told him once again (we've had this conversation many times over the years) what I felt God leading me to do...and ended with saying, "I know you don't agree..." He cut me off by saying, "Bethany, I am NOT opposed to you pulling him out!" I about fell out of my chair-I KNEW this was God!!! I continued on with my story and told him of my fear-questioning whether I would be able to teach 3rd grade (remember, I had done K and 1st before, but never beyond that), when P interrupted me again by saying, "Bethany, he's not even on a 3rd grade level!" I just started crying because 1) I knew in my heart that God had answered my prayer by changing my husband's heart, and 2) because I was so overwhelmed with the thought of all the changes that were about to take place (homeschooling was not the only change God had been opening my eyes to)! I honestly felt like I was standing in front of a tidal wave that was going to crash over me at any moment and I was totally helpless to stop it!

Over the next few days, I started asking God, "Now what do I do in the meantime? You've told us to pull him out, but when? Do I start reading, researching, etc? Show me what to do!" That very morning, when I went to check the mail, my dear friend Lori (Hi!!) had sent me two books-one on discovering your child's learning style and another one on the top 100 homeschool curriculums. Can we say, "Answer to prayer?" I began to read (that was what I did all week in Arkansas when I went to visit my brother while he was at work), but didn't really feel any further leading.

Eventually, I sensed God telling me to bring N home, but I didn't...I needed more confirmation to make "sure" I was hearing him if the stories above weren't enough.

Then several weeks ago, God spoke to me again through this situation. I had told N to do "something" and he failed to obey immediately. When I called him on it, he said, "I did too obey!" Then I heard myself saying, "No you didn't. Obedience is doing exactly what you're told immediately when you're told to do it." I sensed the Holy Spirit saying that to my soul as I was saying them to my son. Ugh!

Have I mentioned yet that I'm a big planner? Ya, well, I still didn't obey Him, because I needed time to plan and read some more and organize, etc, etc, etc. Then...I told J to go start the dryer. She's normally pretty cooperative, but this time she started stalling and asking me a zillion questions that sounded like this, "But how do I...? What if...? But then if...? How can...?" Then it dawned on me as I told her, "J, you don't have to worry about any of that. Just do what you were told to do." AGAIN, the Holy Spirit told me the SAME thing!!! I'm pretty hard headed, huh?

The last thing God used was my dearly loved sister-in-law, Angie. She has a true gift from God, and she sees so clearly through things and speaks directly to the heart of a problem unlike anything or anyone I've ever seen! We were chatting on Facebook one day just a couple of weeks ago, and the first thing she asked me was, "Have you pulled Noah out of school yet?" I told her no, and her response was, "I say this in all love, but sister, you know exactly what you need to do."

Here I am a couple of weeks later and have YET to obey Him! Yet, God is not and will not give up on me! As I was driving home this morning from dropping the kids off at school, for some odd reason, I began to recall the scene from when the nurse wheeled E into my room at the hospital. Noone was with me at the time, and I began to panick! I had already had one baby, mind you, but for some reason, I started thinking to myself, "What am I supposed to do with him??? Take him back!!" Ha! I was overcome with the same terrifying feeling thinking about bringing N home from school, and I heard God saying, "You'll figure it out. Just take it one day at at a time."

So, I have now printed out the withdrawal form, and will mail it off tomorrow. I'll inform the school that Friday will be his last day and then I'll get to bring my baby home!

Yes, I'm still terrified! Humanly speaking that is. But God has made it SO abundantly clear that this is what He's calling us to do though, that spiritually I'm at peace.

There is much, MUCH more to this story, but this is all I have time for at the moment. I covet your prayers for all of us as we begin this new journey!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

We All Need a Good Washing!

I admit...I hate getting my hands dirty-especially when it comes to washing dishes! It makes me shudder to even think of touching left-over food on a plate that one of my kids didn't scrape off into the trash, or to clean out the mystery dish(es) that've been forgotten in the fridge a litle too long!

So to avoid having to touch them, I use one of these little gems:

Unfortunately though, it still doesn't work on everything as well as I would like. Take for example, this one set of measuring spoons I have. They're smaller on the bottom for 1/2 the amount and then get wider at the top for the full amount...leaving a little ledge that has to be cleaned by hand.

As I was washing it out yesterday, this thought came to mind...Depending on what I last used it for (Peanut butter vs. salt for example), a simple quick rinse in cold water from the faucet may not be good enough to clean the spoon properly...much in the same way that a quick rinse in God's living water may not be enough to clean our hearts either.

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant and opened the napkin to find a dirty piece of silverware? Do you overlook the dried on, crusty piece of food attached to your spoon/fork and continue to use it, or do you give it back to the waiter and ask for a clean one? Ya, we both know what the answer to that one is! ;)

We are utensils in God's hands. He cannot overlook the sin or bad habits that have attached themselves to our lives and continue to use us for His kingdom work! He loves us and wants to use us...but first, we need a good washing!

Depending on the issue that's at hand, sometimes God has to turn on the hot water, and allow us to soak a while. When the time is right, He'll roll up his sleeves and get up close and personal with us while He really scrubs us deep down in order to remove all the baked on, putrid, rotten, smelly sin out of our hearts until it finally lets loose and comes to the suface.

When you feel like you're about to drown in problems that are swirling about, or you feel swamped in a life that isn't exactly as easy or comfortable as you would like...perhaps you're stuck in a job where you desperately want out-don't jump up and run away. Seek God's will in the matter first. Maybe you need to soak a while in order for God to soften some hardened areas...things you may not even be aware of. Ask Him-He'll show you...and eventually, you'll be able to see His reflection in your life.

"Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?" Proverbs 20:9

"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:22

"Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." Psalm 51:2

"But now, this is what the LORD says..."Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..." Isaiah 43:1-3

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm Going to Connecticut!

Yes, just call me the world traveler. ;) I just got back from Arkansas and Missouri, and now I'm heading off even further up North! The story of how this came about still cracks me up, so I thought I'd post it.

I was at my friend Connie's house looking around on her computer for the Gaither Vocal Band's tour schedule. They came down our way a few years ago and I was hoping they would be doing the same sometime this year as well. Unfortunately, they weren't scheduled to be in our area, but I was even more excited to find that they were going to be in Myrtle Beach, SC the weekend of my birthday in October! I went to Myrtle Beach 13 1/2 years ago and have wanted to go back ever since!

So, I went into the living room and told Connie, "Paul said I can have a get-away twice a year, and the Gaither's are going to be in Myrtle Beach the weekend of my birthday! Let's go!!!" She started to give me excuse after excuse..."I don't have enough money, etc." I told her, "We have 10 months to save up, Connie! Let's do it!"

Then she remembered that her sister-in-law Shelly (married to her brother Ronny) has a brother who just "happens" to own a condo on Myrtle Beach! She said, "Oh! I wonder if they would possibly let us use the condo??" IMMEDIATELY as soon as the words came out of her mouth, a text message came through on her cell phone from her brother Ronny and all it said was, "No!" We busted out laughing! As soon as she caught her breath, she called him up and when he answered she asked, "What do you mean, NO??" He explained that she had just sent him a text asking if he was still asleep? Apparently, a text she sent the night before (and meant to send to another friend) wound up getting sent to her brother! :)

She then told him what we were discussing and he said, "Connie! Shelly and I were just talking about wanting to go see the Gaither's! Why don't y'all come up here? They're playing 45 minutes from our house in March." He booked our flight, purchased our concert tickets (7th row) and so Connie and I are flying to Connecticut in March!!!!

I just love a story with a happy ending, don't you?! :)