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When I waa a girl, I had a difficult time with “I told you so”. I was very bright, and like any child who umderstands they are talented in some area, I liked to show off. This resulted in the phrase “I told you so” (in the obnoxious voice only a 9 year old can master) frequently crossing my lips.

My mother patiently explained a few truths to me. And I soon learned that correcting my elders did not endear me to them (the fact that I learned more by shutting up and listening helped — my curiosity was bigger than my need to show off). But the truths she shared were real. “I told you so” is the height of arrogance, self-centred and unloving, and shows no mercy or grace. It is plain rude.

As the overly intelligent 9 year old, was I conceited. I knew more and could think faster than most people — and I knew it. I delighted in proving my quickness, usually by proving another wrong. But “I told you so” doesn’t help anyone. When did pride ever help? All I did was alienate those close to me and keep them from asking me for help. Which in turn prevented me from serving others and kept me from opportunities to best use my gift. Which is what I wanted to do in the first place. My arrogance didn’t serve me or them.

“I told you so” also came from a place of hurt for me. When I didn’t feel listened to our that my input was valued, I felt validated in keeping score and reminding others of my (ignored) contribution. I was more interested in demanding my due than in genuinely serving. But love never keeps a record of wrongs or keeps score. True love prefers others’ opinion over its own and rejoices when another succeeds.

There is no mercy in “I told you so”. That phrase doesn’t allow for human mistakes or human failures. It places a burden of expectations and the disappointment in failure on the target or victim of it. Grace and mercy recognize the imperfections of our fallen natures. But “I told you so” expects perfection. I hated being let down, as a child, and my “I told you so”‘s were my childish demands of attention and my refusal to forgive human failings.

“I told you so” is the ultimate form of disrespect. It gives no honor or kindness to the other. It is selfish and rude. And it is the childish response to the hurts caused by the fact that we at all human and less than perfect. It has no place in the grown up vocabulary. My mother was right. Thank goodness she won’t tell me “I told you so.”

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I have been struggling a lot lately with feeling beautiful. Normally I don’t give my appearance a lot of thought — neat and clean and pleasant is my goal, usually. Recently, however, I find myself avoiding mirrors and feeling ugly every time I catch a glimpse of myself in one.

Maybe it’s the knowledge that all eyes will be on me when I share on Sunday. Maybe it’s just a longing for something to change. And since I don’t want to change husband or house .. Myself is about all I have left.

Perhaps the biggest changes shouldn’t be external, but internal. If I’m feeling and thinking bad about myself, but not doing anything about it, something’s wrong. Either I need to change the way I’m thinking, or I need to take my feelings as an emotional indicator of a behavioural change. Probably both.

Emotions are like other senses. We don’t live by what we see, hear, smell, touch or feel, and we shouldn’t live by our surface feelings of sadness, happiness or anger. All the senses and emotions are simply information. Like seeing red-hot embers, hearing sizzles and sparks, smelling smoke and feeling heat warn us of a fire, being sad and angry warn us of spiritual fire and pain. When we sense a physical fire our behaviour changes – we move away, and process whether this fire is safe or unsafe, and whether or not it is usable or should be put out. When we sense a spiritual fire, we should do the same — change our behaviour, and seek more information to make decisions. Too often we don’t change our behaviour or seek information, we simply react, like little children too young to understand.

I don’t want to be emotionally and spiritually immature. Time to take my feelings in charge, instead of letting them be in charge. And I need to figure out what’s really going on, instead of dwelling in the ugliness of my feelings.

I was reading another blog this morning, by a lady who’s marriage self-destructed, kinda like mine did. Only.. She’s divorcing. I don’t claim to know any details beyond what’s on the blog, but all I could think, as I identified repeatedly with post after post was:

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Not just grace though, but miracle-working power. Undeserved, amazing love. Mercy unmerited and refreshing.

Different choices, different opportunities, and a different ending.

It could have been a crash and burn. But instead of trying to piece my life together, I sit on the front porch of a beautiful new house, in the gorgeous sunshine of a summer’s day, relaxing with my husband, and only a week away from recommitting our lives to each other in a vow renewal ceremony.

God is incredible.

It takes courage. It takes three people to do it. There has to be willingness from both husband and wife to work with God. But happily ever after does exist.

I’m living it.

It has been an interesting couple of months. We bought a house!! What started out as an unexpected proposal ended up being a beautiful surprise, and I for one am thrilled. We have a house that literally fits my dreams, and made some new friends in the process.

New seems to be the theme of my life. My husband and I are renewing our vows in another week and a half. I need to write out a testimony along with my vow, to share. We’ve decided that I will share from my side of this journey, so our friends and family can truly understand what a miracle this is.

I’m sitting here on my (new!) front porch, listening to the last drips from the trees. The world seems new again, having been bathed by a series of terrific thunderstorms. The air is renewed, and finally comfortable.

“His mercies are new every morning.” An amazing promise — isn’t it just like God to give a new gift to His creation, each and every single day?! And He also has made us new creatures, and offers us the chance to “renew our minds” as often as needed (which is more often than I care to admit!!)

New. I love getting something new. I bought a new dress for our recommitment, and my husband has a new suit. New clothes make us feel our best. New books create anticipation of new adventures. New shoes make one stand tall. And they say the best smell is that of a “new car”.

It’s new. There’s a feeling of freshness and the ability to start over. Theme of my life — we’re still getting started!

Lately, I’ve been asked about homeschooling and challenged to clarify our why’s and what’s and how’s. Here’s what we teach:

1. We will teach purpose and choice, not chance and fate. This includes the special creation of humanity, the plan of God for each and every human being ever conceived, and the concept of free will. This does not include the fairy tales of evolution, karma or any other modern-day religion.

2. We will teach love, not tolerance. Our children will learn that there is an absolute, and that absolute demands a response. We will teach that there is a difference between person and behaviour, and that people are to be treated with respect, and more than that, to be loved and served without conditions, but that certain behaviours are to be condemned and not tolerated, with help to change.

3. We will teach holiness, not morality. Choices have consequences, and our reactions don’t have to be our responses. There is a right and wrong, and we cannot compromise on those. Our guideline is the Bible, the Word of God, and we will declare holy what God says is holy, and we will name sin what God says is sin.

4. We will teach responsibility, not genetics-and-environment. We may have tendencies and patterns wired into us, but we can and should choose. We may be “born this way” but we don’t have to stay this way. We will own our mistakes and teach about making it right, from apologies to restitution.

5. We will teach truth, not political correctness. It may be unpopular, it may even seem foolish to the world, but we will stick with what we know to be true, and to the One we know is Truth. And we will speak truth, even when the consequences hurt. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel..”

6. We will teach passion and conviction, not peer pressure and convention. We will teach our children to carefully think about why things are done, and to choose the right way, even if it is not the easy way. We will teach our kids to follow God, and to stand for what they believe in.

7. We will teach with relationship, not by rote. We aren’t seeking to fill our children’s heads with information, but to fill their hearts with wisdom and knowledge of God and a desire to love Him, and each other.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle choice, not just an education option. We keep our children home out of a desire to raise a godly generation, not just because of a reaction against public school, or for any special need. We desire to truly live for God, in all areas of life, including parenting and family.

Recently, I’ve been asked a few times, by different people, why we homeschool. And my answers satisfied them, but not me. I was challenged to sit down and figure out why exactly I’m doing this. Here’s my list, so far..

1. First and foremost, we are homeschooling because we believe it’s a command of God. Children are a blessing, and an inheritance of the Lord. And God said that we, the parents, were to train them, to teach them of His law and His love “as you go out, and as you come it, when you rise up and when you lay down, when you eat and when you walk in the way..” (My paraphrase) and to us that means all the time. Which follows that it is impossible to teach our children if they aren’t there.. So they must stay home so we can teach them.

2. We homeschool so we can teach our children the truth. We want them to know the truth of where they came from and how much they are loved, the truth about authority and obedience, the truth about right and wrong, about origins and destiny. Not the humanistic, materialistic nonsense our public institutions teach, but rather we want our children to know what’s real, and not just made up. And, we want them to know the other side too, so they can defend the faith, rightly dividing the Word of God.

3. We keep our children home so they can learn about the real world. Often people claim that homeschoolers shelter kids, and that is possible…if you are a hermit, but we choose to expose our girls to the real world, with parental guidance so they will be able to deal with it when they are independent. There is no age segregation in the real world. There are no bells to tell you to switch activities, no neat lines, no boxes to check off, and no gold stars just for showing up. Life is a bit more complex than a classroom, and decisions and relationships are messier than recess and homework.
4. We homeschool because we don’t believe “one size fits all.” The cookie-cutter, assembly-line approach done by most primary and secondary education institutions fits only a select handful, and everyone else is crammed into the mold. We believe that education is an art, and that training our children is like creating a sculpture – chiselling off the rough spots and excesses to reveal the masterpiece within the rock. The masterpiece that God created them to be is what we’re after.

5. We homeschool to give our children the best foundation in the skills needed for life – researching (gathering information), recording (collecting the info all in one spot), reasoning (making connections with the information, solving problems, and forming opinions), reflecting (showing and presenting the information, your solution and opinion in a logical and concise way), and rhetoric (persuading someone else that your opinion or solution fits the information as you see it). It’s not the 3Rs, but the 5Rs that matter.

6. We homeschool to foster not just their minds and bodies, but their hearts as well. The best school in the world cannot reach the heart. Nurturing a child’s heart takes a relationship, and developing a relationship takes time. We will not waste the time we have with them by sending them away from us for 30+ hours a week! Instead, we keep them close, so we can get to know them. Besides which, I didn’t have children just to let someone else raise them.

7. We homeschool so our children’s gifts and talents can be developed to their fullest, without compromising on their spiritual, emotional and physical health. We have the time to take special classes or join teams in music, dance, science, sports — all those areas that combined with formal school result in over-scheduled kids, who are exhausted and underfed emotionally and spiritually. Our children can rest when they need it, and have lots of time with mom and dad, even if they were to be out every night with one activity or another.

8. We homeschool to be a family. With the opportunities offered today, it’s easy to get so busy that a family sees each other only in passing. But homeschooling gives that opportunity to place a priority on family time. So we’re a little old-fashioned.. mom stays home and dad is the provider.. and we are a family, learning, growing and spending time together.

I thank God we live in a country and province that has enshrined the right of parents to parent – including choosing the education of their children. So many societies, under the influence of social engineers and social Darwinism, have done their best to destroy the family. But our children will stay where they belong, at home, until they are ready to start their own families and have their own homes. Because we believe that’s the way God intended.

Anger is one of the leading causes of family breakdown, and always has been. The sociologists and anthropologists use terms such as “lack of communication” and “incompatibilty” but what it boils down to is the feelings of displeasure, annoyance and antagonism as a result of a perceived wrong. One person thinks the other has “done them wrong” and resents it, holding it against them, and then does them wrong in return, and the cycle continues.

So what is anger? Anger, in and of itself, is not sinful. It is part of our God-designed emotional makeup, just as love, sorrow and joy are. It is, essentially, the instant displeasure at perceived evil. Unfortunately for humanity, sin has corrupted our anger, just as it has corrupted everything else. We still feel that instant displeasure, but our viewpoint of “evil” is more often selfishly motivated than the godly anger we are called to have, at sin and sinners. It is more often “He took my toy” than “He stole their innocence”. The petty annoyances and selfish trivialities we concentrate on cloud our sight to the true injustices of sin.

Anger only becomes sinful when it is without reason, excessive, or goes on longer than is reasonable. When we are angry over minor grievances, we sin. When we are furious at the slightest perceived wrong, we sin. When we hold a grudge, we sin. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus compared our anger to murder, and warned that the punishments would be the same.

Anger is most devestating in the family. Isn’t it always true that we hurt most the ones we love best? When 50% of marriages end in divorce, because one or both partners are angry, we know there’s a problem. But anger has always been the root cause of family breakdown. Resentment, unforgiveness, bitterness – they are all rooted in anger.

It goes back to the first family, in Genesis. We see the first children, Cain and Abel, making offerings to the Lord. Abel understood the principle of blood washing sin, and offered the appropriate sacrifice, while Cain, offering his best, did not understand. Yet instead of letting his jealousy motivate him to do better next time, he let his anger simmer. In his anger, causeless, beyond reasonable, and held on to long after the felt offense, he attacked his brother, and killed him. His punishment? Banishment from God’s presence and his family. Already, the first family, and the first family breakdown.

We see family breakdown again in the story of Abraham. That patriarch of our faith was a father in a dysfunctional family. He had an affair and the affair resulted in a child. When his mistress lorded it over his wife, in his anger, he banished his mistress and his son. His anger, his wife’s anger, and his mistress’s anger all caused this dysfunctional family. The result? One angry young man, whose legacy to his descendants is anger, war, “everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” (Genesis 16:12)

The solution, however, is simple. God’s Word tells us exactly how to handle anger appropriately. First, when anger is being held against us, we are to be calm, gentle, and praying for that person. Second, repentence and forgiveness will erase anger. And third, we are not to be angry in the first place, except for what angers God.

First, how to handle someone else’s anger: Proverbs 15:1 provides the key. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Or try Proverbs 21:14, “A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.” Jesus told us to “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). He also said that when someone is legitimately angry with us, we are to immediately go to them and ask forgiveness: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24) As Christians, we are called to live in peace with everyone, as far as it is up to us to do so. (Romans 12:18)

Second, when we perceive a wrong done against us, and we are angry, God gives us instructions. They are very simple. One word, really: Forgive. Do I need to repeat that? Forgive. Jesus gives us a reason in Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” He offered the story of the unforgiving debtor to illustrate this principle. (Matthew 18:23-35) The man who owed the king much was forgiven, but he turned around and did not forgive someone else who owed him a little. Interestingly enough, this story was given just before Jesus described marriage as being God-intended for life, without cause for divorce (except unfaithfulness). Forgiveness is simply giving up your right to hold the other person to account, your right to “prosecute”. When we give up our right to say “You owe me,” give that right to God, (who promised His own retribution in Romans 12:19), we are forgiving the other, and saying to them, in effect, “you are free to go.” (By the way, forgiveness and trust are two different things. Forgiveness is NOT saying what they did is ok, just that you’re leaving it up to God to collect what they owe you, and letting them go.) God is much better at holding others to account for their sin than we ever will be, and unforgiveness simply hurts us. Being angry here is self-destructive, and giving the one who hurt us way more power than they deserve. Give it to God, and let Him take care of it, and you will be and feel much better.

Finally, the best way to deal with anger, is to simply not get angry at anything other than what God Himself is angry at: sin. In Proverbs, we are to stay away from those who get angry easily (Proverbs 22:24). In Ephesians, and Colossions, anger is listed as part of those character traits we are to get rid of (Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8). Paul cautions us that in our anger we do not sin (Ephesians 4:26) by holding on too long. James tells us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19) and that “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). Instead, we are told to “bear with each another, and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13) and to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

Anger, petty human anger, has no place in any relationship, much less the family. Our anger destroys, but thank God, His love rebuilds, renews and restores. Follow His commands, and you’ll see it for yourself.