August 30, 2012

On Transitions (Part II)

Last week I began a short series for the Emerging Scholars Blog.  Part II is up today!  Here's how it opens:
In the previous post, I shared some thoughts with you about why we should engage during times of transition.  Throughout this post, I’ll share about how we can weather these times of transition well, even coming out smiling and thankful on the other side!  This post will explore these survival techniques:
IMG_73601. Make sure people are praying for you.
2. Consider what the Lord might be teaching you.
3. Join a church as quickly as possible and dive in.
4. Remember, it takes time!

To continue reading click here.

August 28, 2012

Tweaking the "Regularly Scheduled Program"

I find the summer delightful: a break from all of the "normal" routines, swimming outside, maybe even a vacation.  With my personality, however, after too much non-routine, I'm so ready for it by the time the fall rolls around!  You?  We cranked up our school year yesterday and I wanted to share a little something with you to encourage you as you begin the new school year:

Now is a great time to make a change,
if you feel like things need to be shaken up a little!

We got into the habit long ago of letting our kids watch a television show every day upon waking up.  Sometimes if they got up at different times, it would be two shows.  As I thought about this earlier in the summer, I was disappointed with myself for letting our days start like this, wishing we could do it differently.*  Then my brain says to me, "Um, you and Colin are the parents, you get to decide how the household is run." And I replied to my brain, "Oh wow!  You're right.  We can change the routine if we want to, especially if it moves us in the direction of our real priorities."

Day 1 of the 2012-13 school year

Now, you may be quicker than I am on the uptake.  Yes, you probably are!  In the preceding months, I could have spent less time lamenting my failure to make the mornings what I wanted them to be by taking action.  Times of transition - the new year or a new school year - are great opportunities to reevaluate what's going on in your life and what is important to you.  Then make the necessary change or changes.

I know we're not ultimately in control of our destinies; that's God's job.  He does call us to faithfulness, however.  And often those little nudges or irritations in our mind and soul are an indication that it's time to take action; the Spirit is prompting.  I wonder what that might be for you?  Are you making any small or grand changes in your personal or family routines this fall?  I love how the Proverbs challenge my passiveness (okay, let's call it what it is, laziness!):

The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
Proverbs  13:4

Go for it!  Make a change!!

*For the record, there is nothing wrong with morning television.  But it was bothering me, so I know it needed to be addressed in our family.  I'm offering this as an illustration of the theme of this post.

August 23, 2012

Something New: Guest Posting!

Gramma and her grandkids
So, the summer's almost over, eh?  Wow, where did that go?  I know.  We say this every year.  But I think adding a baby to the mix made this summer go by even more quickly.  One thing I tried to do this summer was prioritize the better over the good.  For example, my mom has been in town over the last three weeks, and that has taken precedence over things like, say, writing on this blog.  It's also taken precedence over preparing for school, (which starts on Monday - AH!), but I'm trying to be content with choices I make about how to use my time, an area in which I need to grow.  I spend far too much time looking backwards and fretting about how maybe I could have used my time better.  It can make a girl crazy, not to mention I'm certain the Lord does not want us to live like that.

Anyway, what I really want to share with you is my first guest post ever(!) over at the Emerging Scholar's Network (ESN) blog!  This post is the beginning of a short series on transitions that will post over the next several Thursdays.  Please pop on over and give it a read, and pray that it would be of specific encouragement to those who find themselves in the midst of transitions at the moment.  Transitions are hard, but God is good and sovereign.

Elizabeth, Brian, and Haley and Ellen,
two of Tom's four girls (2009)
If you're wondering how I came across this writing opportunity, here's the story:  I'm fairly certain that talk of me contributing to the ESN blog began well over a year ago.  It was suggested by Thomas Grosh, the associate director of ESN, who was my InterVarsity staff worker for half of my time at Carnegie Mellon University.  We have kept in touch over the years, but been able to connect more regularly since we returned to Pittsburgh.  I'm not much like ESN's regular blog contributors, given that I'm not really all that scholarly, but my dad is a professor and I'm married to a man who may be one someday, so I have had a life-long connection to University communities.  I owe Tom much gratitude for not only this opportunity to write, but also for faithfully discipling me as a young, energetic, and far-too-busy college student.  He and his wife, Theresa, have been a blessing not only to me, but also to us as a couple

So, that's the short story of how I ended up writing for the ESN blog, my connection to Tom, and how I've been spending my summer trying to make better choices.

What have you been up to this summer?  Learning, practicing, or trying anything new?

August 15, 2012

Caring for Your Homeschooling Friend

You may be familiar with articles about 'Caring for Your Introvert.'  While out jogging last night, I thought perhaps it would be helpful, since homeschoolers can be misunderstood, to let you in on some ways you might best care for a homeschooling friend.*

1. Do ask how school is going.  I have a good friend who regularly asks me how school is going.  Every time, it makes me feel so loved, cared for, and known.  I never told her to ask, she just always has.  To me it's really no different than asking a "regular" teacher friend how the school year is going.  I know it's weirder and I can appreciate that perhaps you might be afraid of being bombarded with a barrage of information about how awesome your friend's kids are, but more than likely, you're gonna get some honest answers: some days are great, some are blah, one child is really struggling with something, another child is difficult to keep entertained.  Ask.  And I do hope your friend also inquires about how school is going for your kids and you, too!

2. Don't revere.  So many people say to me, "I just don't know how you do it," in an awestruck kind of way.  Sure, your friend has chosen to homeschool, but that doesn't make her a supermom.  Seriously.  She's not doing anything above and beyond, just different.  In fact, if it is a Christian friend, chances are she's doing that to which she and her husband feel called.  She has really crappy days sometimes.  Her kids act out.  She's constantly second-guessing herself and feeling insecure.  She's a human being just like you.  Don't let your awe at her ability to have her kids around all. the. time. keep you from getting to know and enjoy her.  You'll be surprised, I'll bet, to find out that there are times she doesn't like what she's doing at all and wishes she were in your shoes.  *Gasp!*

3. Don't despise.  Most people don't homeschool out of a need for superiority.  I'd wager that your friend doesn't feel like she's a better mother or person than you.  At.  All.  She might be pretty excited about homeschooling and really deep down wish you did it too, so you could be in it together.  But more than likely, she doesn't judge you because you don't.  (And if she does, she shouldn't, so be gracious with her.)  Before we started - 'bout to drop some truth on you here! - I thought only weirdos homeschooled and pretty much looked down on them.  LORD, HAVE MERCY!  Does He not have a sense of humor, seeing as now I am an enthusiastic homeschooler?!

4. Ask, don't assume.  I know homeschoolers who are doing such for so many different reasons.  I don't know of any two homeschools that are the same.  If you're curious about why your friend homeschools or what exactly they do all day, ASK!  You might be surprised to find that they started because of a learning disability, not because they are a crazy fundamentalists afraid of what public schools might "do" to their children.  (A little more truth for ya: I still sometimes make assumptions about fellow homeschooling families without knowing them, and am often humbled by what I learn when I get to know them.  As I said earlier: Lord, have mercy.)

To summarize, the best way to care for your homeschooling friend is to treat her like a normal person.  She possesses no super powers and likely struggles with many of the same things you do.  And while schooling her children does take up a fair amount of her time and energy, it is only one aspect of who she is.  As I walk through life, I'm learning that often we have far more in common with our fellow man than we think, but we are afraid of that which is different and make assumptions that prevent relationships from developing.

After reading, I wonder if there is anything you would add to this list.  Feel free to leave a note in the comments!  And happy new school year to those of you who have already started, no matter where that schooling is taking place.  I wish you all the best, especially those just getting started with Kindergarten!!

*I'll be using female pronouns in this post because most homeschoolers are mothers, but you can insert male pronouns as needed if you're friends with a homeschooling dad.

August 7, 2012

Marriage Tips (not from me)

The husband and I are coming up on ten years of marriage.  My in-laws passed on a clipping from the local paper that held this little article (copied and pasted below) a while ago, but we just read it together this morning.  It's a great list and I wanted to share it with you married and betrothed folks - lots of wisdom here.  Enjoy!

Two dozen and one tips to marital bliss

by Sharon Randall (taken from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
July 3, 2012 12:44 pm
When Steve got married a few years ago, I decided to give him a gift that would be both useful and cheap -- advice. So I sifted through years of experience, old columns and letters from readers to come up with the following:

1. Always put her first -- before work, friends, even basketball. Act as if she's the best thing that ever happened to you, because we all know she is.
2. Keep no secrets. Pool your money. Allow nothing and no one to come between you.
3. Pick your fights with care. Play fair. Show some class. Hurtful words can be forgiven, but they're hard to forget.
4. Fall in love again every day. Kiss her in taxis. Flirt with her at parties. Tell her she's beautiful. Then tell her again.
5. Never miss an anniversary or a birthday or a chance to make a memory. Memories may not seem important now, but one day they'll be gold.
6. Never give her a practical gift. If she really wants a Shop-Vac, let her pick it out herself.
7. Go to church together, and pray every day for each other and your marriage.
8. Pay your bills on time and make sure you each have a living will, a durable power of attorney and life insurance, lest, God forbid, you ever need them.
9. Love her parents as your own, but don't ask them for money. Never criticize her family or friends. On her birthday, send flowers to her mother with a note saying, "Thank you for giving birth to the love of my life."
10. Always listen to her heart; if you're wrong, say you're sorry; if you're right, shut up.
11. Don't half-tie the knot; plan to stay married forever.
12. Never go to bed mad; talk until you're over it, or you forget why you were mad.
13. Laugh together a lot. If you can laugh at yourselves, you'll have plenty to laugh about.
14. Never criticize, correct or interrupt her in public; try not to do it in private, either.
15. Remember that people are the least lovable when they are most in need of love.
16. Never fall for the myth of perfectionism; it's a lie.
17. When you don't like each other, remember that you love each other; pray for the "good days" to return and they will.
18. Tell the truth, only the truth, and always with great kindness.
19. Kiss at least 10 seconds a day, all at once or spread out.
20. Memorize all her favorite things and amaze her with how very well you know her.
21. Examine your relationship as often as you change the oil in your car; keep steering it on a path you both want it to go.
22. Be content with what you have materially and honest about where you are emotionally, and keep growing spiritually.
23. Never raise your voice unless you're on fire. Whisper when you argue.
24. Be both friends and lovers; in a blackout, light a candle, then make your own sparks.
25. Be an interesting person, lead your own life. But always save your best for each other. In the end, you will know you were better together than you ever could've been apart.

Note: If you switch the pronouns ("she" to "he," "him" to "her") you'll have 25 tips for the bride. They apply equally to both. Here's to happily ever after.

August 2, 2012


Jesus came to earth on a mission.  He completed His task to God's glory and our great benefit.  From Romans 3:

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

 If you are "in Christ" (meaning you have placed your faith alone in Him for salvation and call Him your Lord), you have been declared righteous before God.

Did you blow it yesterday?    Were you proud, envious, angry, impatient, immoral?

Yeah, you probably were.  I was too.  We need to confess our sins and be cleansed.  But in the midst of all of that ugly, Scripture reminds us that once we are in Christ, we are righteous before God.  And glory of glories, it is a righteousness that the Offended Himself has offered to us!

These things are too wonderful for me.

I want to grovel - do something to earn it - you know?

The Lord wants me to come and place my faith in Christ, morning by morning to see His mercies anew!  You're invited to come, too, dear Christian.

26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”  1 Corinthians 1:31
Christ is our righteousness.
We can boast in no one but Him.

Would you share a comment, boasting a bit in the Lord?
I'll get us started.