Saturday, August 6, 2016

No Chicken or Fish For Me

          I’ve been thinking lately about my Christian friends who keep telling me that we have only two options in the upcoming Presidential election, so we must vote for Trump. Their thought process goes something like this: someone from one of the two major parties will win the election, and they will be responsible for the naming of several Supreme Court Justices. If Hillary wins, she will choose judges who support the murder of our unborn children, so we must vote for Trump to keep Hillary out of office. I find this thinking to be incredibly flawed.          This kind of thinking discounts that fact that 71% of Americans identify as Christians, 48% as Evangelicals. If each and every Christian went out and voted on election day, we could easily elect a godly man or woman into office. In fact, we are obligated to do all that we can to elect a godly leader. We are not dependent on one of the two major parties to pick our options for us. We do not have to use our vote to vote against one person. We can use our vote to vote for a good candidate.

          This kind of thinking totally discounts a mighty God who “sets up kings and deposes them” (Daniel 2:21). It seems to me, that these Christians are forgetting that God is all powerful. They are forgetting just who they serve or maybe they are forgetting just how much He cares about righteousness. I have confidence in God and His work in this election. I take heart in the words in 2 Chronicles, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I wonder how many of us have repented of our sinfulness here. What have we done to encourage and support godly men and women who are seeking office? Have we worked their campaigns, donated money, talked them up with friends, family and coworkers? I wonder how many of us have really sought God’s face in this election. How many of us have fasted and prayed? How many of us have bothered to research third party candidates to see if there might be a man or woman after God’s own heart looking to be our next President? I fear that the answer is not many.

I am told that I must choose chicken or fish. Steak is on the menu, people. Not only is steak on the menu, it is the best dinner. On top of that, you seem to forget that I am the child of the owner. If he feels that steak is right for me, that is what he will give me for dinner. I am telling you to look over the menu. If you don’t want chicken or fish, don’t order it. Ask for the steak. Tell your friends that steak is available. Trust the owner.

My last thought on the issue is this: if one of the two front runners wins the election, that doesn’t mean that my vote was wasted. My job is to look at all of the options, popular or not, and to vote for the one that will bring God the most glory. That is because my purpose is to glorify God in ALL that I do. I don’t see that the words and actions of either Hillary or Trump are at all glorifying to God. If God chooses to put one of them in office, that is because He knows what is best (possibly what will bring us to our knees in desperation). I stand with three of my heroes here. “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:17-18 go ahead and read the whole thing).

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A New Perspective on an Old Story

This week I heard an old story with fresh new ears. It is one I have known since my early childhood. If you have been around the church for any time (and some of you who haven’t at all), you know it well too. You can find it in Mark 6: 30-44, the story of the five loaves and two fish. But today God showed me the story from a different perspective.  

Moms, picture this scenario. You have been working tirelessly doing all the things that you have been asked by your loving family. Clothes are clean, cupboards are stocked, bathroom floor is mopped, doctor appointments made, etc. You love what you do. You adore your family. But you are just bone weary tired. It can get that way. We have all had those days when we feel like we are running our fastest just so we don’t get too far behind. You are not alone, my friend.

That is just where our story finds the apostles. They have been off doing the work Christ gave them to do. We are told, “Many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” We know how that feels. Jesus does too. He totally gets it. Immediately he recognizes the problem AND has the solution. Not just any answer; the perfect one. “Come away and rest awhile.” YES!! We are all cheering here. That is just what we want someone to say to us on those overwhelming days. Before you get too excited about it, wait for the rest of the story.

Did you know that the word rest also means abide? (This is a hint of what is to come). I started thinking about some of the abide verses that I know. John 15:4-7 and I John 2:24-29 were the first to spring to mind. They are all about our need to abide in the Lord so that we bear good fruit and have confidence in Him. This is the kind of rest that Jesus gives us. He gives rest to our souls. We don’t have to worry because we know Him. Jesus knows us, our every weakness and all of our needs. He knows what we need even better than we do.

So the story continues. The tired men jump in a boat and head out with Jesus to a desolate place. We have been in those places. The place where you can’t even muster up the slightest desire to even call on God for help. The place where you feel deserted by everyone. The place where you are the most vulnerable, most hurt, most destroyed creature. But we know this truth. No place is beyond our God. No place is without Him. Even at our most desperate, God is there. He never leaves us in our need. Just as in the story, Jesus didn’t leave those who needed Him. The boat lands and the apostles find crowds of people waiting for them. These people needed Jesus, and they knew it. They RAN to this place. And Jesus did not disappoint. He taught them. All 5,000+. Here it was. A chance to abide in Him.

Now comes a chance for the apostles to shine, to show that they find their rest in Christ and are ready for whatever comes. Like the so many of us, they fail. It is late and everyone is hungry so their solution is to send the people out to get their own dinner. Can you imagine their shock when Jesus says, “You give them something to eat.” Say what? We don’t have enough money for that. We are in the middle of nowhere. You must be joking. Do those words sound familiar? They sure do to me. God gives me a job, and I immediately start telling Him why he has the wrong person. All. Of. The. Time. You would think that I would learn, but I don’t. This week He is using this story to remind me. I hope I get it. Unfortunately, just like these men, I forget who I serve. I forget just who God is. Wake up, Melanie. This is God. He created the whole universe from nothing. What can He not do?

He showed the apostles just who He is too. 5 loaves. 2 fish. Nothing really. That probably wouldn’t fill my hungry family. But Jesus blessed what was there and everyone ate. Not only that, they ATE AND WERE SATISFIED. Can we work on remembering that? God uses who we are, what we are, and what we have no matter how insufficient it seems to accomplish His purposes. He satisfies us. We cannot do it on our own.

In the end, the apostles didn’t get the rest they so desperately wanted or felt they needed. Many times we don’t either. They, however, did get much more. And, you know, I bet that when they saw that miracle, they were renewed. They were reminded about how big God is, how much He cares for us, and how He will take care of all of our needs. I would love to say that from here on out, I am totally, 100% sold out and committed to giving God my all, trusting Him completely, and serving with my whole heart. It isn’t going to happen. I will fail, but I will remember this story, and I will get up and do better because I know a GREAT God. I pray that you do too.

BTW, none of this means that moms never need time to rest, relax, and renew. We do. Take the time you need to rest, just remember that rest also means abide. Don’t forget that part of your life.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Old Double Standard is Everywhere

The Double Standard
                   Here in America we seem to be all about making everything fair. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” is our motto. It is almost an obsession with us to make sure that everyone is treated exactly alike, especially among those who have more liberal political views. This is why I am stunned by the comments I have heard the past month from some of my friends.
                   I am sure you all have heard of Brittany Maynard, the young woman (29) diagnosed with brain cancer and given just a short while to live. It is a sad situation. Here she is, newly married and at the beginning of a beautiful life, only to be told it will end all too soon. With nothing to look forward to but suffering and death, Brittany and her family have moved to Oregon in order to take advantage of their “Death with Dignity” law which allows licensed physicians to assist their patients with their suicides.
                   Many, many people are supportive of Brittany’s choice. She will suffer. She will die. She has nothing positive to look forward to. She should be allowed to choose to end her life early and avoid the suffering that is in her future. Those are the comments I am hearing. The thing I find interesting is the people who are saying these things. These are the same people that were beside themselves when Robin Williams chose to end his life early.
                   Here was a man who was suffering and had been for many years. He wasn’t just looking at suffering in his future but was actually living with it. He decided that he didn’t want to suffer anymore. He had reached his limit. He saw nothing in his life that made it worth continuing on. Why are you not as supportive of his decision? Is it because he was not suffering enough? Is it because the time that he should have had left on this Earth was longer? Who gets to decide these things?

                   How much suffering is required before you can kill yourself? Or is it just the expectation of future suffering? Does your suffering have to be physical? Could mental suffering be enough? How long does the natural life expectancy need to be? If you only have 3 months left to live, then it is okay to kill yourself? What about 6 months, a year? What is the line in the sand? Maybe it should be that intentionally killing yourself is NEVER the answer. After all, that is the message we have been trying so very hard to send all of these young people who are being bullied mercilessly. Let’s send them a consistent message and get rid of the double standard here. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

When It Is This Good, You Have to Share


  I, and several other families that I know, attend the FPEA homeschool convention in Orlando every Memorial Day weekend (I actually missed 2013 so I could be in NC for the birth of my second grandchild, but you get the idea). I have been homeschooling for 23 years. I have graduated 3 students who have all gone on to successfully attend college. Some people wonder why in the world I would take the time and pay the money to attend the convention. I will tell you why I do and why you should too.
          I think that one of the greatest needs in the homeschool community is for moms to connect with one another. We need to know that we are not out there all alone. We need to realize that there are actually an awful lot of us around who are eager to get together and support one another. There are a lot of moms out there who can encourage us to press on toward the goal. One of the best places to go to see that community is the FPEA convention. This convention was the largest homeschool convention in the world, ever. There were thousands of us there meeting together, building relationships, offering advice and encouragement. Don’t you want that?
          It is a great place to actually look through materials that you are considering using for your children. When I read through catalogs, I see that every company offers a third grade math book that teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It is only when I can look through the books that I can really get an idea about how it will fit our family. Even better, I can often talk with the authors or moms that have actually used the curriculum. I can ask questions about how to put certain things into practice. The advice that I get standing in front of a vendor booth is golden.

          The convention is a great place to find answers to the specific challenges my children and I face. Do I have a struggling reader? Are fractions eluding us? How am I going to handle dissection with my squeamish one? How in the world can I teach high school algebra, beginning reading and care for a toddler at once? What can I do to get my home organized and my budget under control? What about college? I have gotten answers to all of those questions and more at the FPEA convention. There are two full days of workshops offered every year on a variety of topics from people who have been there and done that. What? Experts offering advice on just what I need all in one place? How can I pass that up?
          It seems that every new homeschooler that I talk to starts out with a boxed curriculum. You know, the one where the publisher provides all of the books for each subject in the grade you are teaching. It also seems that after a year or two most of those people are ready to move out of that box and find some things that will fit their child a little better. Maybe they just want to add a little extra or maybe they want to piece together a whole curriculum on their own. Either way, the convention offers the opportunity to explore all kinds of options. I am always amazed at the new offerings each year for homeschoolers. As I walk through the exhibit hall, I realize that the only limits to what my child can learn are their interests and my budget.

          The last reason that I love to go to the convention is that I get recharged when I am there. We end our school year at the end of April, and I am ready for a break. I feel drained and wonder how I am going to get the energy and enthusiasm to start again in June (the beginning of our year). I worry that my youngest will end up skating by because I am out of energy or ideas. Yet, every year without fail, I come home from the convention on fire. I am ready to put new things into practice. I have ideas for how to handle the problems we faced the previous year. I am encouraged to finish well by the graduates I have met.

           Obviously, I love the FPEA convention. To me, the minimal registration amount is a bargain considering the number of benefits I receive. I have already started saving to attend again next year and have talked with three newbies who plan to join in the fun. I hope that many more of you will come to the convention. I know that this means the pool will be even more packed, but it will be worth it to share the time together with you. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Take Heart and Be Courageous

                Once again I had the amazing opportunity to serve at the FPEA convention in the Mentoring Moms booth. This is my very favorite part of the whole weekend. I love, love, love getting to speak with homeschooling moms who have questions and discussing options with them. I have to admit, though, that the second reason I volunteer for this is that I get to meet some incredible women who are so wise and gracious. It is a joy to sit and listen as they share and encourage other homeschoolers to move forward in their journey.

          This year I was fortunate enough to serve both days with Michelle. She and I could be great friends if only she lived a little closer; Dunedin is just too far for us to get together for morning coffee. Michelle has a lot of experience in areas that are foreign to me. She loves math (who knew those people really existed), is a certified teacher, and works from home. She has made different education and curriculum choices than I have and was able to share those with some of our seeking moms. She is a wise woman with the single greatest piece of advice that we can give to other homeschoolers or parents in general.

               Every mom went away from that booth hearing that, “we are a sinfully arrogant people to believe for one moment that we, by choosing one curriculum over another; deciding to delay teaching reading; picking chemistry over physics; or any other homeschooling choice, have the power to mess up God’s plan for our children.” God has known our children from before the foundations of the world. He has known their path and how to best prepare them to become the adults that He intends them to be. We cannot foil His plan. We are tools that He uses in order to mold those human beings. He has graciously allowed us to be a part of the process, but does not rest the burden on our shoulders.

          Moms (and dads) take a deep breath. Relax. Enjoy your children and continually point them to God. Teach them to enjoy Him and glorify Him. He will take care of the rest. Our Almighty God has a plan, and you CANNOT mess it up. Stop listening to the whispers of Satan and enjoy your freedom. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

286, 33, 12, 87, 8. These are the numbers from just a few of the homeschool graduations in Central Florida in the past couple of weeks. For those of you who are in the public school system, this may not seem like such a big deal. For those of you who are new homeschoolers, this may not seem like a big deal. Those of you who have been around the homeschooling block just might realize how great this is. For a frame of reference, you should know that the very first FPEA graduation in 1997 (a mere 17 years ago) had 8 graduates.

Why are these numbers such a big deal to me? I find them an encouragement. It is encouraging to see how homeschooling has grown in number over the years. When we started and my kids were questioned about what school they went to, no one knew what homeschooling was. Today, when we mention homeschooling, everyone knows someone who homeschools. Our students are part of drama groups, high school sports teams, science fairs, band, dance and more. Opportunities abound for homeschooled students.

These numbers are encouraging because it means that it is possible to homeschool all the way through high school. Sometimes we get discouraged when our child doesn’t seem to “get it”. We feel we have failed. We reconsider our choice, and we are ready to give up. These numbers tell us that we can make it through those difficult times. We can find ways to educate our children all the way through high school. BTW, although I don’t have the numbers, I am pretty sure that most of these students are already taking college level classes. I know of several who graduated high school after graduating college with their AA. You can do it.

I find these numbers encouraging because it means we are not in this alone. There are others out there just like us. They are not really looking to be radicals who buck the system as much as they are looking to do the best job they can raising their children. When little Susie is refusing to do her fractions workbook, know that there is another mom out there (actually a 100 or so) who have gone through the same thing. If you haven’t joined a support group, stop reading right now and find one. Join it. Start meeting together with those women who will help you. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Blessed by Brenda

I just finished year number 23 of homeschooling. As I look back, I am amazed at the changes I have seen in homeschooling over the years. Our first years included keeping careful track of hours and days. Students had to have four hours of education each day for 180 days. Do you know how MUCH your child can learn with one on one education for 720 hours a year? Several times the police stopped by the local park where our children were playing to question why they were not in school. Our teens ran into roadblocks when they tried to get a driver’s license, and high school sports were out of the question.

          Today, I marvel at all that is available to homeschoolers, especially those who are fortunate enough to live in Florida. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a few (Senator Webster and Craig and Brenda Dickinson especially), Florida is a very easy place for us to homeschool. We not only have little intrusion from the government, we also enjoy many exciting opportunities.

          There are support groups and co-ops all over the state to aid and encourage homeschool parents. Students are able to take part in science fairs, spelling and geography bees and more. They are playing sports for their local high school or as a part of teams made up of homeschoolers exclusively. High school students are eligible for Bright Futures scholarships and can participate in dual enrollment, letting them earn both high school and college credit at the same time.

          Homeschoolers are no longer being harassed for truancy. They are able to get their driver’s license at 16. They are not excluded from the opportunity to earn sports, music or arts scholarships. Many of these advancements are thanks to the work of the Home Education Foundation and our homeschool lobbyist in Tallahassee, Brenda Dickinson. If we want to keep homeschooling in peace and comfort, we need to give our support to HEF and Brenda. If our budget doesn’t allow for financial support, we should be on our knees daily.

          Homeschooling is not an easy task, but it could be much, much harder than it is. God has provided for us in a very special way. Don’t ignore His provision. Check out , and see what you can do to help keep Florida a wonderful place for homeschoolers in the future.