Sunday, July 03, 2016


Well, we were down to one turtle and three cats.

At the height of of our family's pet ownership, at one time we had one horse, twenty-six chickens, five cats, one dog, two fish, and one turtle. I know the work that goes into pets. Pets come and go in most families and there is great value in that. They teach so much- responsibility, kindness, compassion, love.

It had become easy for me to have a romantic view of having pets. Our three outdoor cats and one turtle got fed once a day. Besides a monthly bowl and tank washing, there is nothing else that has to be done for them.

But then, I wanted a dog.

Because of changes in our neighborhood, we really felt like we can't have an outdoor dog. So our dog needed to fit specific criteria for our family - not too big for the house but not small and yappy, doesn't shed too much, and never ever be aggressive to children.

We've been in love with several breeds over the past year and convinced at one time or another that's the kind we should get. We've also committed to never get a dog if it has certain breeds. I was afraid to go to a shelter to look at dogs because I might have chosen one out of emotion.

The first week after Ray's graduation, he started looking at ads and making calls to shelters and dog adoption agencies. He searched high and low and made many calls to get the right one for us. Well he did the unthinkable. He stopped by the humane society.

Welcome Home
I knew when I started getting videos on my phone that he was hooked. It didn't matter that this dog was already fifty pounds at eleven months old. The workers at the shelter told him that the dog was a lab mix. So far every "expert" we've had look at him has said there's probably no lab at all, he may even be part German Shepherd.

There were a few days, okay a few weeks, that I didn't think we would make it. I told Ray more than once to take him back or call a friend who had offered to take him if we couldn't do it. (I forgot to mention that I've been afraid of dogs for most of my life, especially big ones, and Chihuahuas, and dogs that bite, and growl.)

But then I got hooked.

He came to us house trained - huge bonus! Our friend hired a trainer who comes to our house once a week for a few weeks - another bonus. We are figuring out how to keep his hair under control - much better help. And as of today, he would rather lay in his crate than anywhere else in the house - sold. I guess Gunner is a part of the family.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What is my Facebook About?

I looked back over what I had posted on Facebook in the past and it was clear that I'm all about my family. And that's true. But it shouldn't be.

It used to be said that you could look at a person's checkbook and see where their priorities are. Well, Facebook may be that way now. When people look at my Facebook, do they see Christ?  That's what they should see.

"...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

In general, people share a lot on social media. For the most part, people I know post positive, safe for the family type things. Occasionally, I'll see things pop up that reveal depression, irritations, and even serious sin. Social media is my main source for actual news. Lots of people post and share things about their churches, businesses or favorite causes. All of that's fine. That's what Facebook is about, whatever you want it to be.

But what is my life personally supposed to be?

"I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever." Psalm 86:12

I must be about the business of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. So that's what my Facebook page must be about. I want to be more proactive about what I post and share. I hope that no one will look at my posts and get the wrong idea of what my life is about. But rather, I hope they see Christ.

Maybe that'll bother someone. That's okay. I'll be fine if they want to "delete" me. Then I still won't know the tiniest fraction of what it means to suffer for Christ.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Day I Broke Up With Facebook

My Profile Picture
Unlike Scripture, Facebook can be whatever you want it to be.

Scripture is real, unchanging, sufficient, God's Holy Word. Facebook is not.

A few weeks ago, I found myself taking pictures of my beautiful family, thinking, "Oh, how this picture is going to look on Facebook!"

Facebook has invaded my thoughts way too much. It's not Facebook's fault, it's mine. I wonder why did that person say that, or what did they mean by that, or is that pointed at me, or why are they there, or what happened to them, or etc. I also spend more time than necessary trying to decide how I will say this or that, or which picture to post, or how many is too many, or will this make someone made, or I don't want to offend anyone but I should say, you get the idea.

See how much thought goes into Facebook?

I joined Facebook many years ago so that I could keep an eye on my kids and their friends. I wanted to be a part of what they were doing. In all those years, I've learned a lot! Sometimes, I learned way more than I wanted. But, for the most part, I have enjoyed seeing them do life, get jobs, get married, have babies, or just become adults.

I've also loved getting to see friends from my childhood. And the fact that I can stay informed about the lives of people that I don't get to interact with as often as I'd like is great too.

Cover Photo
It didn't take long for me to realize that other people on Facebook only let you see what they want you to see. No one on Facebook can possibly post everything about who they are. Most only post what they want others to see and that's fine. Facebook isn't real life and no one is required to post everything about their lives.  Nor would we want that.

I'm not one of those people who get tired of seeing pictures of someone's baby or dog and then block them, nor do I delete someone because they don't agree with me. I just scroll on by. I have a deleted a few because of vulgar words and pictures (I do have small children looking over my shoulder), but it takes a lot to get deleted from my Facebook.

Since I've started writing this post, I've had a few moments that I was bothered by what someone said. In my mind I had to deal with it. Would I say something or ignore it, would I let it stew in my thoughts too long?

I chose to remember why I'm on Facebook. It's a casual interaction with others. It's not meant to control my thinking or actions. (I actually did pray for that person.) If someone wants to promote their agenda on Facebook, that's fine. Facebook is the place for that.

But that agenda will not invade my thoughts so often. It will not keep my mind off of the real focus.

So here it is -

"Facebook, I'm breaking up with you. Consider us 'just friends' from now on. We can have the casual relationship that we might speak in passing, but I will not think about you anymore than that- in passing."
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8
I used the word Facebook for the sake of this article, but insert what ever social media that you use.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Homeschool Goals

I'm really trying to get homeschool planned for next year so that I'm not scrambling at the last minute. I have learned that I have to have my homeschooling vision and goals before me to keep moving forward. The logistics and curriculum take a lot of time and effort to plan successfully. But I think the vision and goals of homeschooling are more important.

I read over a lot of things that I had written in the past about homeschool. Some days it was funny, some days I wondered who those kids are that I teach. But I noticed a common theme, homeschooling is hard. I would like to place before my family the vision and goals for our family to keep us all focused to carry on.

Now if I can just figure out what they are...

But looking back at pictures, I realized that we did do a few good things.  Below are a few snapshots from our end of the year celebration.

All of our children had to memorize a major portion of scripture, song or written work. Mary read The Confessions of Augustine and wrote a paper to present to the families that gathered. Some of the other things presented were -

  • 10 Commandments
  • The Athanasian Creed
  • Proverbs 3
  • Come Thou Fount
  • And about a million (jk) verses from our unit studies

a newspaper by the writing class

I don't know if this was the cutest thing we did all year but it was pretty close to the top. These beautiful faces dressed up as forest friends and acted out the book Very Special Friends by Jane Chapman.

This is part of the Spanish class after acting out something about an elephant and a flight attendant. I'm not a Spanish speaker but what I understood was hilarious.

On the last day of classes, our favorite history teacher returned from a deployment to Jordan. All of the kids were surprised and lots of happy tears flowed. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Dr. Husband

I was overcome with emotion when I heard the Pomp and Circumstance begin that day. To say that Ray has worked really hard is an understatement.  Unlike most PhD. candidates, DMin students usually do not move to the campus and they continue their full time jobs to complete their degree. Ray has sacrificed considerable time to study, write and defend his work. It was very common for him to be awake at 4:00 am and stay up late at night to work. His thesis is The Role of Bible Intake in the Marriage of Charles and Susannah Spurgeon. I'm so proud of him for his work.

Dr. Don Whitney (on the right) was his direct supervisor and proved to be the perfect person to keep Ray moving in the right direction at the right time. Dr. Joe Harrod (on the left) was his second reader (whatever that is, but he seemed to help a lot.)
Josiah, Abigail and Susannah

This degree was truly a family affair. We never studied for Ray and almost never read any of his work, but we really missed his presence. It's been great seeing this load lifted from him.



Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Strong Tower

"My ability to do this job ran out about two years ago." This was what someone said to me recently when we were discussing hardships of life. I didn't tell him that God will not give him more than he can handle. Because that's not true. At least not in the way that I've always heard it spoken.

It is not true that "God will not give you more than you can handle." He may give you so much that you wonder where He is, if He is listening or does He even care. There have been many moments in the past few years that it felt like God wasn't available for us.

There have been many times in my adult life that grief and sorrow were so strong, but I could always "feel" that God would see us through. But lately, the grief of this life has seemed overwhelming, with no help in sight.

God wants you and me to totally depend on Him. He wants us to cry to Him like the psalmist. When our heart is faint, He is the Rock that is higher than we are.

Because I know that God is sovereign and omniscient, I can rest. I don't have to "feel" like He will see me through one heartache or another. He will. I must depend on Him, rest in His care, and trust Him to help me.

He is strong enough to handle my life. He is a Strong Tower.
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
 Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
 Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
 So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.     Psalm 61

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Field Trip Day 2016

Greek goddess
"We're finally doing what my friends think all homeschoolers do - Only go on field trips." Like a lot of the general public, many of Lydia's friends who attend traditional private Christian school have the idea that all homeschoolers just go on field trips, never do any real work, and do school in their pajamas. Well, they do actually wear their pajamas all day, if they don't have to leave the house.

Our history, literature, and Bible curriculum focused on early civilizations this year so we went to the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. It's a great museum for kids. The staff is comfortable with children talking out loud and seem eager to tell them about the exhibits. And it was fun to go with friends who knew more about the exhibits than we do and were actually excited about them too.

It's sand!

The High Museum was great on a Tuesday afternoon. There was almost no one there and it was perfect for my talkative four year old. I could've spent hours there but I was also there with my four year old.

Lydia was surprised by how much she enjoyed the museum too.
Mary loved the urban art.
The Eric Carle exhibit was perfect Abigail

We became part of the art.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hebrews 12:15

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.
I have allowed anger and bitterness to take root too long. Nursing it as a small child, I have held on to it. Because my pride is so great, I am not sure that I even want to get rid of the sin.

Besides that, it seems easier to hang on to sin. It's easy to blame others for the sin in my heart. It is true that I've been sinned against.  But the sin against me doesn't justify my own sin. No one is to blame for me turning over and over in my mind the hurts done. I conjure up conversations that I would have, if I had the perfect opportunity. Anger and bitterness swell up, and I say things that ought not be said. And I dwell on it, set up camp on it, live with it.

I tell my children all the time, no one else is to blame for your sin. I have to listen my own teaching. I can't blame others. We are all related to Eve. She didn't want to take responsibility for her sin either.

That sinful root can spring up and cause trouble. And the sin becomes just as visible as the roots of the maple trees in my yard.

But, Jesus knows our temptations and He is able to help us.

Hebrews 2:18
For because He himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
All of Hebrews 2 is so encouraging. I am calling on Him to help me to turn away from sin in my heart. The most practical thing that I can do when my mind wanders to sinful thoughts and practices is to focus on Philippians 4:8.
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Heart of Rebellion

How do we keep our children's hearts from rebelling? There no guarantees.

We have three adult daughters and three more in different stages of growth. Rachel is married with three children; no rebellion there. Hannah is a first grade teacher at a Christian school, lives at home, getting her masters degree; no rebellion there. Sarah is enrolled at a technical college, lives at home, looking forward to her career; no rebellion there.

I often think with the number of children we have, chances are that some of them will rebel. Good thing we don't live our lives based on chances. God is sovereign over all. He uses circumstances to bring about His will. In His grace to our family we have no rebellion - yet.

Or do we?

Every time a child rolls her eyes or pouts or stomps her foot, she has rebelled. But that also makes parents rebellious doesn't it? How many times have we pouted, stomped our foot, or rolled our eyes? (If it's done in the heart, it's been done.) I am often thankful that no one around me can see me stomping my foot in my heart.

Our children have a special gift of revealing our own sin. They learned so much of what they do from us. Disrespect, bad attitude, discontent, anger, disregard for others are all sins that I have passed on to my girls. Some days, I wish I hadn't been such a good teacher.

One thing I know is that if the most godly person in the world had raised my children, they would still be sinners. Romans 3:23 says that we have all sinned. We are sinners by nature and by choice. We have rebellious hearts that want to sin.

By God's grace, He has provided a way of forgiveness through Christ.  While there is no special formula to keep our children's hearts from rebellion on this earth, we know that God is faithful to forgive those who call on Him.

(Someone gave us tickets to Cirque du Soleil where these pictures were taken.)

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Hannah, My Favorite Teacher

It's Teacher Appreciation Day as I write this and I have been thinking about qualities of a good teacher. From young childhood, Hannah has had a desire to help children in need. She thought that she would be living in an inner city area, counseling and mentoring children in need.  All through college her ministries led her to working with privileged children more often than not. She found that children coming from privileged homes were as needy as those coming from impoverished communities. Their needs were different but had just as serious side effects as anyone else.  Many different things led her to teaching in a Christian school.  And after two years of teaching first grade, I can't imagine Hannah doing anything else.

I love this picture of her. Her love for the children she teaches is so apparent and they love her back. She isn't a typical school teacher; she's sad if her breaks seem long. For the past fifteen months she has also been getting her Master's in education while teaching full time. 

 She and Sarah took Mary to Charleston for Mary's 16th birthday. Hannah loves to travel and is always planning her next trip. She's in the process of getting her passport in hopes of a big trip soon.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to my favorite first grade teacher!