Thursday, September 19, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Right now she's playing with her stuffed animals and the boys are sleeping soundly. A warm forehead and stuffy noses have made for a peaceful afternoon and I'm listening to Keith Urban's new album. Peace comes where she's welcome. She is welcomed here with tiny arms and my deeply desperate heart.

My fingers often graze her forehead and remind me of the warmth that comes from her growing spirit. His dirty fingers wrap around my legs and leave marks from breakfast and brown dirt from the backyard. He limps from growing pains and I rub his back while he snuggles on my chest. "Will you scratch my back, Mama?" I grieve for an instant that one day he'll stop asking but for now, I am elated at his deep need for me. Their deep need for me is something that I carry with all my heart and it often brings me to a kind of prayer that quakes mountains.

The air in our home quietly whispers their need for the four walls that provide their shelter, contain their breath, and witness their extraordinary. There is nothing common about our children because they were created to change the world. But first they need their home, they need healthy & developed roots, and they need inner peace.  

The keys hang by the door, sometimes for days, and we reach to the back of the pantry for tonight's dinner. Pillow forts take over two rooms because the afternoons are still heavy with warmth. The pace is driven by whatever they need in the moment, not by my errands or social visits with grownups. Loneliness cannot survive here because they are surrounded by the best and deepest kind of love. I find my need for conversation and relationship met by ever-present and always-helping Jesus.

Tempting this way of life are my selfish heart and long-forgotten priorities. It's only a thief who robs my children of their childhood and their home and I'm convicted to my core when it's me who opens the door. So I set my eyes on the vision of a home where my husband will flourish and where my children will thrive. There I can be fulfilled and satisfied and find genuine joy.  I stop chasing race car pace and drive-through lines and buckle-unbuckle and "everyone in this town needs me but the three in my backseat."  

The markers are easily identified, mostly by my poor planning and credit card statement.  So many cheeseburgers and Sprites, stops at the gas station for yet another fill-up, and other random wasting of money. I cringe at the thought of not honoring his paycheck.

I'm not driven by shame towards this future; I'm driven by hope. Hope for contentment in the simplicity and a sense of identity in the beauty of family. Hope that my home holds the honor of refining my character and provides a haven when the world is cruel. Hope that my children get to witness the bettering of my skills, love, and vulnerability through the very tangible gift of nearness.

Are you ready to come home?

Thursday, September 12, 2013


"Sexually abused." Sex." "Intercourse."

I made an inward gasp and felt the floor disappear from my heart. My eyes fluttered to the seat beside me to look at her little frame. Is her back always so straight? Do her eyes usually pay such attention to the front of the room? She was this morning and, of all mornings, why wasn't she buried in her coloring book or looking for the next crayon?

The room was dark but enough light came through the back windows that I could make eye contact with Brad. He looked at me with casual surprise but mostly had his eyes locked on her face as she listened to the story of redemption. My heart leapt without reservation from the screen to my girl and back again as the story wove thick and colorful threads throughout the room, like a net catching our hearts. Her bravery was noble, that girl on the screen. To share such wounding that would one day be met with such mercy and compassion. The gospel gave me goosebumps that morning and my watery eyes burned as my heart overflowed.

I couldn't catch the words before they landed on her innocence but it was acceptable because she sat with a pillar of parent on her right and her left and she learned - again - that life is not safe and that Jesus always pursues our pain, like catching the pieces of a puzzle falling in slow motion. Her whimsy returned two minutes later, she immersed herself in the busy bag, and we exhaled with relief that she didn't ask questions.

The fullness of Christ is found in the church.  (Ephesians 1:23)

As I processed what we had watched, with our daughter at the age of seven that morning in our church service, I was surprised at my comfort and relief. If you had asked me the night before what I thought, I would have erred on the side of caution and suggested that children leave the room before the clip was played. Sometimes it takes being blindsided to realize the deep truths that need to take root in our parenting philosophy. It should not disturb us that our children can (and should!) hear the ragged stories in our churches and city groups. Have you considered the work of the Bible lately? Have you scanned the breadth of sins that the blood of Jesus covers? Sunday school messages that teach our children to focus on the colors of the rainbow at the end of "Noah's Ark" are making light of the genocide that drowned men, women, and children and how a man who "walked with God" was saved. The story of God is not a safe one.

The fullness of Christ, for my children, is found in the church. 

Our children walk with tender, open hearts and accept what they hear as absolute truth. Every single attitude and perspective and response is created by the words that are planted in their minds. They listen, they watch, and they absorb. And the voices, oh, the voices. As much thought as I give to what my children hear, so I give to whom they are hearing it from. I pray that my children will be surrounded by men and women who tenderly hand them pieces of God's story and remind them that God is glorious and good. This is what it means to raise our children in community. This is what it means when we say it takes a village. This is what it means for the church to preach the gospel to our children.  

Because there is no place, besides my home, that I would rather them hear truth and love and light than the church. The glorious and aged church that has the opportunity to speak into our children's lives, before culture turns on its loudspeaker and before the playground steals them from our laps. We must insist that our churches take back the responsibility of equipping families for the work of the gospel, for the love of the King, and for the sake of our salvation. It's a daring and hard work but this partnership is the most effective way to disciple our sons and daughters in the kingdom.

She wouldn't remember that morning if you asked her about it. The words planted something deep below the surface, a seed that will be nurtured over time by the displays of vulnerability she witnesses and words that appear to miss her comprehension. She will, however, develop a love for broken stories that surround each of us and she will have the courage to embrace the hurting. She will learn it from me and she will learn it from us and she will impart it to her children. What a legacy.

Image courtesy of Go Forth Creative

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Prelude to Home School

Good morning, dear friends!

Many of you know that we home school and, while this hasn't always been the case, I am just loving it lately and I am finding thriving rhythms for both me and my kids.  I will be hosting an intro to home school morning in November.  If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, please email me if you're interested in coming out.  My plan is to go through a broad overview of the why's and encourage parents to shift their philosophy from education to parenting & home life.  I will also have a lot of resources, practical advice, and encouragement straight from the heart of God.  I'm praying for clarity for each of you, breakthrough in vision for your home, and wisdom from God for all of us.  

Until then, I wanted to pass along some websites & just a book or two that are excellent resources.  

Consultant & Speaker Carole Joy Seid
My mentor Carole Joy Seid has done seminars in Dallas that have radically impacted our home school philosophy, vision, and method.  Her website is here.  She has recently uploaded some cooking videos and just seeing her face and hearing her voice makes my heart soar.  You'll see her schedule (she's in Dallas this weekend!) and you can purchase her seminars, which come with her .pdf book lists.  Find "Listen to Carole" to hear an excellent radio interview and consider listening to it when you're prepping dinner tonight.  

Authors Raymond S. & Dorothy N. Moore.
This couple has written several books, most of which were published in the 1980s and 1990s.  My favorite is Home Grown Kids: A Practical Handbook for Teaching Your Children at Home. (Amazon or FW Library)  Easily followed by Better Late Than Early. (Amazon or FW Library)  Hard to find but the Fort Worth Library has both available on request.  

Home School & The Single Parent
I've had three interactions in the past month with single moms who are struggling with school options for their sweet children. This article includes links to 105 resources, websites, articles, and more to encourage the single mom or dad on their home school path.  It can be done!

I am looking forward to catching up with you soon and I would love to hear if you check out these resources!  Email me to get more details about the Prelude to Home School morning on November 2nd!