Thursday, July 20, 2017

Changing strategy

I spent my childhood attending public school. I survived, albeit sometimes by the skin of my emotional teeth. Middle school was the pinnacle of the tough times. I am still here but I suppose you could say I am proof of the proverb, That which does not kill you makes you stronger.

The school Elizabeth attended in Wichita, KS was an excellent school for her. I share this because it is easy to assume that as a mom who has homeschooled her girls for six years that I am anti-public school. But I'm not.  I was just against Everett Public schools. I struggled with seeing apathetic teachers walk the halls and listening to educators with a Masters Degree using poor grammar, the list could go on and on, but I'll spare us all that story.

In August 2016 we moved further north from Everett and Seattle and settled in a beautiful small town that quickly felt like home.  The feeling of being home had eluded me since our move.  I found Washington a tough state to enjoy while we stayed living in limbo.  Now that we no longer reside in limbo, I find I LOVE where we live.

All of that to share that after prayer and thinking it over, I asked Chris about placing our girls in the schools here and he agreed. Why now? That is a good question.

1. I felt God prompting me that the time had come to revisit public school as an option.  I was willing to consider this because. . .

2. It no longer feels as if putting our girls in the schools that we would be throwing them to the wolves.

3. Parents here actually teach their children manners and to be kind to others. That was a huge one for me. When we moved to Everett I met many parents who seemed to not care that their child was unkind, or that they bullied others and they themselves behaved just as badly.

4. I LOVE our home and town, so I'm more willing to embrace our girls becoming a part of the community here.

5. The people here are amazing!  When Beka went missing for those horrid 6 hours people on the garage sale groups went out in their cars and began searching as well. People spoke up who saw her so we would know she hadn't been kidnapped.  Living in Everett, I would never have contemplated this as an option. 

5. I am not really a good teacher. I know how to write a term paper, I can outline and take notes like a champ. However,  I cannot figure out how to teach the girls write these.  I want the girls to have a very good education, and I am willing to admit I cannot provide that for them.

6. I am tired. I love spending time with the girls a lot. But I will be honest, I am ready for some quiet time. Time to work on my doTerra business and more importantly time to spend quietly with God. I struggle with both of those right now.

7. The girls are lonely and fighting with each other constantly.  If Beka and her adventure of Lizzie continually falling and crying for attention showed me anything it is that they want more social interaction.  I am a homebody,  so I admit they need friends. I can be a hermit for months on end and not think anything of it. The girls cannot.  So there you have it.

I hope everyone is having a good week. Enjoy your summer.

In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Heroes!

Heroes are rare or so the media would have us believe. We rarely hear stories about positive people making a difference in the world. Thankfully, there are new sites dedicating themselves to sharing inspiring and praise filled stories for those who help when others won't. 

http://www.liftable.com/carolynfultz/28-yr-old-screams-psycho-starts-rape-homeless-man-1-answers-cries/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=bencarsonistheman&utm_campaign=dlvrit&utm_content=2017-07-05

Maurice Osborne the man in the article above is such a man.  But heroes may also be doing little things that may not seem like a big deal but it helps brighten another's day.

Today I have three heroes. Mr. Osborne who dared to stop a rape in progress, Jake the AAA guy who helped jump start my car after the battery died at the gas station today and my handsome husband, Chris.

Chris is often my hero as it is, but today he came, he didn't say I told you so, or I can't believe you didn't do this. He instead picked us up at McDonald's grabbed a new battery for our Kia and then gave me the Volvo so Beka and I could come home to air conditioning while he made certain the alternator wasn't really the issue.

But he's often the hero of the day. The man who decided to not become his dad and chest or abuse me. The man who makes it his goal to be an A+ dad, despite his own poor example.  He works hard to make sure the girls and I are doing well and taken care of.  He was right beside the nurses helping change the cold towels on my face, hands and arms when I burned myself. He made sure I stopped and rested and still makes sure I get rest as my hands finish healing. It's a million little things that make him not just my best friend and husband but my hero.

Who is your hero? Who inspires you to work hard and try to overcome challenges or who will come along side of you to help with the day to day things that threaten to overwhelm you.

Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, June 30, 2017

Freedom

For the past five weeks I have been primarily stuck in the house. Why is a stupid story that only highlights my poor judgement. Short story I used too much lighter fluid on the grill and ended up burned badly.  Second degree burns on my hands, arms, chest and lips (yes you read that correctly,  I burned my lips)

For those who aren't on my FB, when you have second degree burns it means you have to stay out of the sun. Even indirect sunlight must be limited.  So while I recovered I was basically stuck in the house unless it was dark.
I didn't mind at first because I was in a good deal of pain, but by week three and a half I started feeling the cabin fever.
You don't realize how much you like going outside until you can't.  Today (Friday) my purchase arrived. Four beautiful pairs of driving gloves arrived. They even have UV protection. Freedom in a package arrived. Thank goodness.

Add to this joyous arrival the fact that Chris got the 2006 Kia we purchased up and running means we have more freedom.  We can go to the library anytime, I can go grocery shopping without waking up at 4 a.m. to drive Chris to work and I can take the girls to the library or to hiking trails. I can go get in laps at the mall. FREEDOM!!!!

The irony is I have enjoyed the ability and freedom to stay home, especially this past winter. It was nasty, but now we are thrilled to be able to go out and make friends. FREEDOM!!

I hope you all have a great 4th of July because this year bells of Freedom will definitely be ringing!!!

In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, June 24, 2017

One Great Adventure

Yesterday was an uneventful day to start. Then we found ourselves in the middle of a great adventure. The main character in this adventure is our youngest child Beka. She is 10, smart and apparently was feeling very confident in her ability to get home before I realized she had been gone. . .She was wrong.

Around 1:15 p.m. Beka asked if she could go explore and play at the creek. I told her to stay close because Chris a.k.a Daddy would be home soon and he might want to go somewhere. So she left happy and she hadn't ever been gone too long before so I was surprised to see it was 2:30 p.m. and no Beka. I asked Elizabeth to go search for her not knowing Lizzie had seen her at the park earlier when she took the dog for a walk. 

Chris made it home and about this time I'm beginning to worry. Beka had never been gone this long before and something had my mommy sonar going off. So we drove looking for her and no Beka.  Chris came back, dressed in hiking clothing and had Elizabeth show him where the creek was specifically and then he began making his way through the creek while Sarah and Elizabeth began driving around searching for her.  In the meantime I was stuck here in the house. I was burned four weeks ago in a grill fire and so I am not supposed to get my hands and arms in the sun due to the severity of the burns. Talk about a crummy thing to be, stuck...

As they all left I started praying and asked for prayer on Facebook.  People began praying, I continued praying asking God to let me know if I should panic or not...Nope I had a sense of peace. After a while some of my friends convinced me to call the police,  I did and the Mount Vernon Police responded quickly.  Officer Gless came to the house and asked for important information. I was able to give it to him and slowly but surely we began playing the waiting game.  In the meantime I got things going on garage sale groups and tips began pouring in of sighting of Beka.

Truthfully,  those tips helped me not lose it completely.  Don't think I didn't cry, I did. And Lizzie stayed with me.  She was a huge comfort and gave me hugs, brought tissues, and remembered she had seen Beka at the park. We shared this news and discovered the police were already following social media.  I had made my profile public for that time  (it has since been returned to it's  locked down status).  Four o'clock, five o'clock came we hit the six o'clock mark and I was struggling to trust in God and know Beka was okay when the phone rang about 6:30 p.m. Sarah had found her!

So where during all of this was my wayward wanderer? She decided she wanted to take a long walk so she left the park, went towards Burlington. Now our town and Burlington are connected so it wasn't a stretch for her to want to go that far.  After all when puppies,  kittens and fish call to you who can resist their siren song? Apparently, not my daughter,  so she walked 10 miles to see animals, not before stopping at the Country Store for some free popcorn because she was hungry and to see their baby chicks. She meandered all over and headed back to Mount Vernon and stopped at the River to rinse her shirt because it had thorns from the creek in it and she was tired of them irritating her. And then proceeded to walk around the downtown area looking around and exploring before her oldest sister, Sarah found her. The adventure was over and now she had to come home and face the music. 

This music wasn't fun, she was scolded by a police officer because she wasted police resources and the search and rescue volunteers time and Sarah woke up only to spend her time from being awake until she had to go in to work searching and crying because where on Earth could Beka be?! Her boss called another waitress in and so Sarah was able to come home and relax. The neat part of this was I had been praying that God would help Chris and Sarah hear Him speaking. Sarah was ready to give up when something nagged at her to go downtown one more time when she found Beka.
Chris is scratched up all over his hands and arms, Beka is also scratched and she is sunburned, Sarah and I required chocolate and a good night's sleep. Chris needs another 24 hours to recover and Beka is learning rapidly the consequences and how her choices affected all of us.

I hope you all have a less eventful weekend than we had.
In Christ,
Maureen

Friday, June 9, 2017

Gardens and Hearts

For many years I could not for the life of me grow anything. I killed a cactus, bamboo, any and all plants. The exception to this was crepe myrtle and I didn't even plant it, the former owners of our home did, I just left it alone and it thrived.

I tried a few years ago to grow bell peppers, they were doing well until my husband put up a black out curtain. At that time it became out of sight, out of mind and nature took over the rest. By the time I remembered them,  they died from too much sun and not enough water. I decided I was a plant killer in my own right.

None of this would have bothered me except that my Grandma Taylor had an amazing green thumb and her garden thrived under her care. She even tried to teach me once but became frustrated with me and gave up. In my defense I was 15 years old at the time so my commitment level wasn't what it should have been. It didn't help that we had a neighborhood cat that wouldn't leave the flower bed alone. I gave up and figured it was a problem. Every once in a while I would try again only to have to give whatever plant I attempted to grow to Grandma. She finally asked me to stop trying because her house wasn't large enough for me to continue my efforts in a college dorm.

Now I am in my 40's, my husband and I joke that I don't need Gardening for Dummies. I need the remedial version. Except I am actually growing a tomato plant and it is thriving! We grabbed two Mortgage Tomato plants a few weeks ago and then transplanted them a week or so ago into terra cotta planters (they are rather large, so the roots have plenty of room to grow).  I looked this evening and joyful realized they are healthy and thriving and soon we will have tomatoes!!

I would love to say this bravery is because I read some book that helped me see the mistakes previously made, but my confidence comes from knowing Chris and Sarah have experience successfully growing plants and my willingness to listen and learn from them and my cousin, Dawn, and a good friend in Massachusetts. They are more experienced than I and as such, I would be wise to listen and learn from them.

Like learning to garden, we have to be willing to learn from  God and other mature Christian if we want the garden of our heart to grow and thrive. Like a garden we need to work at keeping out the weeds, watering our hearts and strengthening our hearts by spending daily time in the word. 

I wonder if Jesus wasn't a gardener growing up because he uses the Parable of the Seeds,
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Matthew 13:3‭-‬8 NIV
http://bible.com/111/mat.13.3-8.NIV

And then he explains,
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:  When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.  The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.  The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.  But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Matthew 13:18‭-‬23 NIV
http://bible.com/111/mat.13.18-23.NIV.
We can spend time with God daily and let his word and Spirit take root in the soil of our hearts or we can be stubborn and refuse to learn or listen to those more mature than us in our walk.

Which seed will you choose to be? And how well will the garden of your heart thrive?

Have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Helping Hands

As a young woman I remember when people didn't even stop to ask if a person struggling needed help. By struggling I mean they faced an injury to themselves or a family member. People organized meals, some people would show up and help with yard work or clean dishes, little things that people needed done and yet they would never dream of asking people to do for them.
What happened to that tradition? When did we as a society become so self absorbed that we never think we should jump in and help.
So here are some suggestions of ways we can help people in our area or that we know who face a tough time.
1. Depending in the season mow their yard or shovel the snow from their walk ways. By the way this is a great idea even if a person isn't facing tragedy but is maybe older and struggling.

2. Fix and bring a meal. People won't ask for help,  we need to become a community that jumps in and helps even if we aren't asked. Being a country that is largely created by emigrants and those who learned to be reliant in themselves it is easy to see why we hesitate to ask for help or accept it. And yet when we refuse to allow others to help us we rob them of an opportunity to learn the adage, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 

3. Go and sit with people whose loved one is facing surgery or who has gone to the hospital no matter what.
I'm guilty if not jumping in and doing this. Granted for now it is tougher to do with us being a one car family but what was my excuse before then?!

4. Pray for and with people during tough times.

5. Bring meals to people.  With modern technology it is easy for people to sign up to make a meal for people these days.
As an addendum to this I would add to make sure there are not food allergies or food restrictions. Some people may be diabetic, have high blood pressure or they may have severe good allergies.

6. Offer to watch any children for as long as necessary and stick with it.

This seems like a small list, but every little bit we do to help others can make a difference. We can still be a community who helps,  who shows we care and are more than just obsessed with our technology.  After all, Jesus said any of these we do for even a small bit is just as if we are doing them for Him. Whether it is making a meal or helping in what seems a small way can be helpful.

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Great Expectations






                           How Bold Are You?

     If I have learned anything in almost 43 years of living it is that doing something new is scary.  However, it can also be exhilarating.  When I was 16 years old we had an amazing youth group come visit us.  They were from another church in Missouri.  These youth had decided to bravely pray and ask God to use them to minister to other youth groups and He used them in a mighty way. Nothing seemed different about them at first, until the evening of their special service.  They came walking in singing Rich Mullin's Our God is an Awesome God.  I had heard this song before, but in that moment, as they sang, God was in that sanctuary and I knew I was in the presence of the most high God. I had asked Jesus into my heart at age four, but I had never been sanctified and I wanted that.  As this group of brave teens sang and entered into our sanctuary, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed more than just a four year old's desire to please and love God, I needed his Spirit in me.  It took me years to realize that was the moment of my sanctification.  That moment changed my entire life and any possibility of me walking away from my faith in Jesus Christ, died that very day.

     Tonight as I spoke with the church teens, our lesson was from You Can Do Hard Things - it is a teen devotional on YouVersion Bible.  We talked about God's expectations for our lives, which are pretty high versus the world's expectations, which are pretty low even I felt the spirit of conviction.  The world says we are incapable as teens to do anything amazing and we should mess up. But God sees us as a child or an adult and He knows that even teens can be great.  The world wants to lull us into complacency, it has low requirements for us.  God says, "Follow me and I will make you fisher's of men".  Jesus didn't say it would be easy, but it is certainly never dull.  And because when I hear God speak I am willing to leap into action on His prompting, I had some good examples of great expectations and how they can become amazing journeys with the teens. We laughed and enjoyed the meeting.  But the highlight for me was seeing their eyes engaged and lighting up as I challenged them and encouraged them that they CAN BE AMAZING if they will allow God to use them.  And then I acted up on that expectation.

    Tonight I challenged them to pray and ask God to make them bold for Him and brave enough to move out of their comfort zone - and then asked one of my shy teens to please pray for us.  It took him a few minutes to breathe deeply, but he did it.  And even if it may have seemed short to others, I thought it was beautiful. I am so proud of him.  :D
 
     Here is the biggest thing in all of this.  We do not know what tomorrow brings for us. If I know one thing it is that nothing is guaranteed, I knew this after losing my Dad when I was small.  While Jesus told us to not be afraid because God took care of the flowers in the field and the birds in the air, he also warned us that we didn't know when God would come again.  He can come like a thief in the night or we can die tomorrow.  We just don't know.
   
     Now for the tough questions.  Are you stuck in a life that is comfortable?  If you are would you willingly shake off what would be comfortable to meet God's great expectations?  What could God do if you allowed him to move you into the uncomfortable places but you trusted Him and his wisdom?   Even more to point I ask this. . .Are you ready to be bold?