The Courage of Fathers

Production (4)“There are many different kinds of bravery. There’s the bravery of thinking of others before one’s self. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he has made many sacrifices for his family, and put away many dreams.  

Michael: Where did he put them?

Mrs. Darling: He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer… He does. And that is why he is brave.” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

My father lived a relatively quiet life. Worked, fixed things around the house, went to church, took the family on occasional vacations. He lived out his dreams through books. He met my mom while riding horses in Philadephia’s Fairmount Park. Once he became a family man, he rode with the likes of Zane Grey and Louis L’ Amour. I still remember the first time my parents came out to see us in  Wyoming. I was driving them to Rock Springs, which was about 45 minutes’ drive through high desert terrain. He was impressed that his baby girl could navigate through that barren land on a regular basis, just to do some grocery shopping. As he sat next to me, he took in the whole scope from horizon to horizon–sage brush, open range, wild horses–all the glorious “nothing” (as some people call it). Like a kid in a candy shop, he exclaimed, “Isn’t this neat?” For a week or so, he got to live his dream.

I came across a quote by J.M. Barrie earlier today, and that is what got the whole thought process flowing for this post:

“We are all failures–at least, the best of us are.”

My husband (who has always been one of my favorite authors) wrote today:

“We stigmatize failure, but really, if the deed or investment was a noble and righteous thing, at least he who failed, TRIED. Most will not risk it all. Most will not sacrifice at all. So go easy when someone “crashes and burns”, they may have invested everything, and therefore just lost everything. Peter actually got out of the boat. The other disciples had opportunity, but Peter got out. He failed, but he tried.”

What courage it takes to be a leader, a husband, a father. To “fall seven times and get back up.” So much riding upon their example and performance. Regularly they are called upon to “step out”, while their children watch to see how it’s done. I takes courage. It requires putting dreams in drawers. It mandates a daunting measure of self-denial. But, when all is said and done, and they stand before the sole Onlooker who truly understands and remembers how staggering this weight of responsibility has been for a pile of dust to bear…there will be, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”I have no doubt.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

Dear Moms of “Bad Kids”…

Crazy kid in bounce houseI feel inclined to encourage some mamas today. Yours is not the child who is referred to as a “good kid”. Your child is “that kid”…the one who is wiggling, talking, distracting, interrupting, seems to have no filter, has occasional passionate outbursts and forgets the social graces. Don’t forget that “that kid” is also the one who loves profusely and fiercely, hugs with gusto, feels with great compassion, sees with a perspective beyond their years, and teaches you to love life with abandon.
There are two sides to every coin. Remember that when you are frustrated with a lack of immediate compliance or feel embarrassed in public. Stay the course. You keep on plugging. Make your goal so much bigger than gaining the approval of others. This is your child, not theirs. He or she is “fearfully and wonderfully made”. There is a reason yet to be realized for the depth of their ardor. This child will not be one to take the path of least resistance. A strong will can manifest as smug defiance–or valiant courage. It’s a matter of the heart. That child who appears to be obediently sitting down on the outside might be rebelliously standing up on the inside.
Goodness knows in the near future we will need people who are willing to speak seemingly recklessly for the sake of the gospel. Who knows how God will choose to use your “wild child”? Eagerly anticipate that while you try to teach manners and comportment and guidelines of communication. Don’t sacrifice their uniqueness. It can be exhausting and conflicting to find the balance when there is pressure to conform and you feel your parenting comes under scrutiny. Scrutinizers and their varied opinions are a dime a dozen. The time you patiently and lovingly invest is precious and of eternal worth. In the midst of the din, woo that child’s heart to the Lord.
“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Prov. 23:26

Night Vigil Mama, You Need to Know.

higherthani“Don’t tell people I’m tired. It just sounds like a cop-out.”

I heard myself saying this today. I’ve thought those words scores of times, but never uttered them.  Life as a MOD (Mom of a Diabetic) can be exhausting. Lost hours of sleep (and the domino effect from that), the emotional drain of mentally trying to make sense out of something which defies logic, the pressures we place upon ourselves to try and manage this unrelenting beast 24/7…it all adds up. Add to that all of life’s regular responsibilities (homeschooling, housekeeping, a job) while trying to keep another beast at bay, and you can feel on the verge of collapse.

I went to our Dexcom Clarity reports online to see if I could discern some patterns that would help me manage this more effectively. First–she’s 13, so I probably shouldn’t even try, honestly. Second–I know this is a manna life (relying upon God, continually looking to Him for the sustenance I need and for His provisions for Katie’s care). I know it in my head; but sometimes what we know becomes elusive because we can’t see through the mist of weariness to grab hold of truth.

I know I’m not the only mother who has been here, and Type 1 Diabetes is certainly not the only nemesis stalking worn out mothers worldwide. But when you are in the thick of things, it’s easy to feel profound battle fatigue and for your focus to turn inward. So I remind myself of truth.

My husband stated plainly, “Our job is to keep Katie alive, and so far I think we’re doing a pretty good job.”  It’s a blessing to me to have his support and his no-nonsense perspective. He works so hard all week that I try to do my best to cover the night watches so he can get the rest he needs to keep on faithfully doing all he does for our family. Of course our “keeping your child alive” goes far beyond reminding her to look both ways before crossing the street. This involves walking a very precarious tight line, trying to calculate, every day, all day (and many nights), as best as we can, how much insulin to dose. Too much, or too little, can have dire–sometimes life-threatening–consequences. Trying to perform this task in the wee hours of dark-thirty in the morning can be daunting…trusting reason that can be clouded by sleep (or the lack thereof).  I look at this graph (which layers all the days of this past week), and I see why I’m MOD Tired:

lowsmay

The red outline indicates four nights where a vigil was being kept because of highs needing to be corrected or lows requiring carbs. In each case you then wait to see if your treatment has the desired effect. It may, or it may not. What worked perfectly before may not work at all on this occasion, and somehow you need to reconcile yourself to it.

So the chart is validation in an odd sort of way…documented proof to substantiate my frame of mind.

I also know that both of our endocrinologists have congratulated us for doing so well with Katie’s management. Katie’s A1C is currently 7.9. Not stellar; but evidently (judging from the doctors’ reactions) it is remarkable, considering she’s navigating puberty and the accompanying and ever-changing recipe of hormonal soup (insulin is also a hormone).

Most importantly, I know that my High Priest, who ever lives to make intercession for me, knew what it was to be fatigued beyond anything I’ll ever experience. He understands what it means to try and press through inexplicable circumstances.  I’m reminded again that I need to take this all to Him. It’s too much for me. There is wisdom in making time to “come apart”. 

So I spill my heart out on this blog to perhaps encourage another Night Vigil Mama who needs to hear that someone else is on that same journey…and that Someone Else wants to keep her company, lighten the burden, share the road. This road is short. We’ll make it.

 

Homeschool Reflections-Running the Gauntlet and Finding Resolve

booksEvery once in awhile I have to revisit my mission statement as a homeschooling parent. Reminding myself of the “why” helps my resolve to find its feet again. Something I’ve found that all homeschoolers have in common is self doubt. The end of the school year provides a great opportunity to objectively evaluate your “why” in light of your fall semester goals as compared to spring semester outcomes. 🙂 
We are winding down our school year. It always makes me reflective. Katie has counted out how many lessons she has left in science and social studies, and decided this week she will put her nose to the grindstone so she can finish all her online school.  Now I can get her schedule lined up for next school year, and we’ll enjoy a more leisurely pace completing spelling, grammar, writing, and literature through the end of June. July is our month off. Grateful to see a *little* bit of discipline taking shape in how she manages school. She’s maturing and starting to take things a little more seriously. She’s got her sites set on our alma mater for college. Slow-but-steady progress on this on ramp for high school. 😉 This is gratifying for both of us!
Katie Grades Spring Semester 2019 END
 
I was proud of Katie last week, as a woman (who was a retired school teacher) plied her with all sorts of questions about her schooling. If you homeschool, you know what I’m talking about already. The gauntlet. 
 
What was she reading? Katie told the lady about the series she’s currently enjoying, and I told her how we are doing Peter Pan as a read-aloud and doing a literature study through that book. 
 
What was she doing for science class? Katie told her all about the solar system and space investigation–she’s doing Earth & Space Science.
 
Does she have any friends? (aka “Are you socialized?”)  Anyone who knows our daughter knows the answer to that question.  lol  I assured her that she goes to youth group, church, and art club and has interaction with her peers. But I don’t believe “socialization” is accomplished by spending the entire day with only those in your peer group.
 
What is her favorite subject? She shared what she is learning in history…which interestingly is about Ancient Rome and Christianity.
 
Did she cover Wyoming state history? I elected to save that until later…not in 4th grade which is typical in the school system…so she’d have more of an appreciation for it…we’ll cover it next year in conjunction with American History and Geography.
 
I was asked if I was a teacher.
I’ve always been a teacher by nature, and have been a lifelong learner. Both my husband and I are a little nerdy, enjoying documentaries and playing Trivial Pursuit. 🙂 I had to research reading disabilities and information processing disorder to help our oldest two. I made it my quest to understand their learning styles, and also my teaching style. I studied measurements and standardization and decided that I have a front row seat to best decide what each child in our family should have set as their benchmarks…and came to believe that there is no such thing as a standardized child. I taught on the University level for nearly a decade, and in many other venues through the years…speaking to all ages, all group sizes. I put our two oldest through nearly all their K-12 years, using nearly every homeschooling methodology available. I’d now describe our method as “eclectic”. However–and this is IMPORTANT– without having to list accomplishments, proficiencies or validations, any parent can be an educator.
Should everyone homeschool their kids? I’m not saying that. It’s not an ideal fit for everyone. In such cases, it is wonderful to have trustworthy, truth-anchored teachers available to come alongside…but this still does not negate the responsibility of parents to be engaged in the education process. Scripture reinforces the mandate that parents are expected to teach their kids. Deuteronomy 6 and the entirety of Proverbs are key passages which support this command.
“When it comes to my children, my ultimate goal for them is Heaven, not Harvard. If they go to the latter on their way to Heaven, that’s great. But if I reverse that equation, I’ve failed them.” ~Barbara Frank
The lady was kind enough, but it was a typical set of questions from someone questioning the viability of home education. Katie was very matter-of-fact, open, and confident. Bringing a defensive attitude to the table when subjected to this kind of questioning never helps anything. This kind of interview does not make me question or intimidate me. It strengthens my resolve, even more than a good report card. 😉 
Currently, in the US, a degree is not required in order to homeschool. Prior to the inception of the public school system, the responsibility of education was that of the parents and sometimes the church. The public school system as an institution has an interesting history, with which most people are not familiar.  Here’s a discussion on that background. Some who have never had formal education are brilliant teachers. Not all those who do have degrees teach effectively. Here’s a helpful article to provide a bigger picture. 
Right now we have the freedom to homeschool in this country. Largely, we still have the freedom to decide what our homeschool will look like. Some states have more requirements in place as far as record keeping, testing, attendance, and submitting work samples. Here is where you can go to find out what is required where you live. I highly recommend joining HSLDA, as there is a continual movement in government to acquire more and more control over the rearing and education of our young people. Know your rights. “Wise as serpents, harmless as doves.” 
Are there people who claim to homeschool who give the whole movement a bad name? No doubt. And they are usually the ones who end up in the news. Do I teach everything, every tiny scrap? Nope. Public school teachers don’t either. Do I teach perfectly? Nope. No one does. But I do my best, and I know this is best for our family.
If you are on the fence, considering homeschooling, I’d love to encourage you. Send me a pm!

But I didn’t plan it this way…

nestI’m an organizer. My administrative skill set is a big part of who I am. So, spontaneity is not my strong suit.  My husband has joked that I need to plan to be spontaneous.  When you’re married and have kids, doing things “on the fly” elbows its way into your life, whether you want it or not. So, when our single daughter came to us with the news that she was expecting a child, I had a decision to make. With my mind reeling in that moment, would I trust the grounding truth that God could work it out for good?

Well, the “could He” question is a bit ridiculous. In my head I know the doctrine of God’s omnipotence. He can do anything.  But my heart often feels conflicted. My feelings tend to lean upon their own understanding.  So in situations like these, that act as a match and light the bonfire of my emotions ablaze, I have to step back and gain perspective. I needed to ask God, as David so often did, to instruct my heart.

This life requires so much more prayer and walking in the Spirit than we ever imagine we need…until we round a bend and meet a challenge face to face. Initial response is so important. It was clear to me that our daughter felt the weight of shame and isolation that bearing this heavy news was pressing upon her. To “lose it” helps no one. And honestly, to “lose it” is more about me anyway. It’s about hurt, disappointment, the consciousness of the opinion of others, the dashing of our Perfect Parent hopes. I’m grateful that God calmed and kept my heart so that what issued out was grace. That’s not something you can scrape together in 30 seconds…it comes from trying to weave His truth into the fabric of who you are. I’ve always admired women whose words were full of God’s Word. I have asked God to help me do that for years. Long years. Hard years full of hard things I’d never have chosen, but served to make me lean hard on Him and recognize His voice.  I’ve still got a far piece to go on that journey. Erin needed a safe place for her heart, and I’m so grateful I could provide that.

For Erin, this has been a sort of epiphany … an “intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.”  It brought into focus for her the struggles of her heart through the past several years, and turned it back toward her Savior. You can read her “announcement” here.

I confess, in those early days after the news was brought to light, I struggled. Mostly in mourning for the life I’d imagined for our daughter. The good life that I now imagined to have been derailed. I couldn’t stop the tears as we sat in the waiting room of the crisis pregnancy center, and she filled out the paperwork.  I’d become forgetful of how God works and short-sighted regarding His purposes. But not long after, God began to do a work in my heart.

Who of us would live the good life God has for us, the abundant, growing, leaning, trusting, victorious life He wants for us…without trials?  We think we know what Job meant, when he stated in confidence that he would “come forth as gold” after his life was rocked to the core and he lost pretty much everything on this horizontal plain but the air in his lungs. We don’t know, until we know.  Hindsight is 20/20, they say.  The “good” in Romans 8:28,29 linked to above is to be conformed, molded, and changed into the image of the Lord Jesus. To become more like Him. That “good” is definitely not out of Erin’s reach. Not at all. He is a God of hope and healing. As a matter of fact, realizing how empty we are without Him makes us desire it more.

In our first discussion, I told Erin I was so thankful that she’d made the first right choice: to keep the child. Life is precious. I assured her that, no matter how life comes to be, it is God who allows a heartbeat–and therefore I was sure He had a purpose. At that point, it was hard to really read what else was going on in her heart and mind. She told me days later that she wanted to make a public announcement so that everyone (because especially in these situations, everyone will hear eventually) would know the whole story. I told her she needed to take it slow, pray over her words and choose them carefully…because she’d get one opportunity to put it “out there” and we wanted God to use it for good. I’ve done much the same thing for the post you are now reading. Erin crafted a draft and sent it to me. I was so proud of her courage and how well she articulated her feelings and wove them together with relevant scriptural truth.  We received so many responses, assuring us of love and prayers and support. I also received numerous private messages from friends who said they were so grateful we allowed them into this story.  If the past several years have taught me anything, it’s that trials come into our lives for the sake of others who are looking on, as well as for what God wants to accomplish in us personally. We need to ask Him for the strength and bravery to embrace that and not hide away in a corner. Satan wishes to paralyze us. God wishes to empower us. So many are hoping for someone to show them how to live victoriously and grace-fully.

So now, I try to offer hope on this new road while I’m simultaneously trying to figure out what it’s supposed to look like from day to day. This kind of multitasking is on a whole new level for me; but I know that, with her heart leaning upon the Lord, and with His help, Erin will be a wonderful mommy. She’s always had lots of love in her heart for children. This innocent little life is to be cherished.

I sent Erin an early “nesting” Mother’s Day gift that I had custom-made for her …something to remind her that she’s not alone, and although it may be a challenging road,  it can still be a very sweet one.

You can know this too. If you are feeling paralyzed in a hard place, please message me so I can pray for you.