Faith

A very different 1st day of 8th grade than any of us imagined a year ago!

Photo Aug 30, 11 28 27 AM

Pictures of him taken after he got home from his 1st day of 8th grade.

For the past 2 school years, B has played sports for a local private school. Isn’t that awesome they allow homeschoolers to join their sports teams?! Last Winter he met a boy on the basketball team who was a homeschooler and going to this private school part-time. We didn’t know that was an option! By Spring, B told us he would like to try going to a traditional school for freshman year of high school. He wanted to see what it was about and if he would like it. We felt we’d be throwing him to the wolves if we just dropped him off at the public high school without any experience or preparation. So, we enrolled him, part-time, in the private school where he’s been playing sports. Yesterday was his first day.

He had been so confident and excited to start this new adventure all Summer. Me, not so much. I love our homeschool life! The flexibility, going anywhere we want on any given day, rabbit-holing for days, weeks or months about a subject or topic that B’s interested in, staying in PJs all day if we want, meeting so many different SMEs in and out of the area and learning so much from them, no one to report to if he’s sick, and learning together.

The goal of parenthood is to raise confident, secure kids who can and want to go out into the world and I love that he wants to go and try new things. But it still hurts a mom’s heart to realize this is the beginning of the end. Pretty soon he’ll no longer need me to drive him anywhere and then he’ll be off in college and we won’t talk everyday. I won’t know where he is and what he’s doing any given moment of the day at some time in the future! So this is a great transition to that time.

I have been so upset for the past week, though! I am grieving as if we just dropped him off at college and not at a school a few miles away for less than 4 hours a day! It just reminds me, again, that he is our only one. There are no more babies at home and there will not be anymore babies at home, no matter how hard we try. I’m going through that grieving process all over again.

Last week we attended Back-to-School Night. Very different from when I was a kid. Back-to-School Night used to happen a few weeks into the school year and only for parents. Parents follow their child’s schedule, meet teachers and listen to what their kids are going to learn. This one was for the entire family and took place before school started. We were to bring his school supplies and locker decorations and everything could be all set up and ready for him on the first day of school.

My anxiety and weepiness of the past week disappeared at Back-to-School Night! I got all caught up in the love and fellowship, happy B could meet his teachers and see where the classrooms were in relation to his locker ahead of time. However, the reality of starting at a traditional school slammed into Mr. Excited & Confident that night and we had a little incident at the lockers. He looked like a caged animal, panicked and then lashed out at me. Poor thing! And he was like that when he was home until I left him at the school yesterday. He was freaking out about not knowing what the rules are, getting sent to the principle’s office, not being able to keep up with lessons, etc. He basically went up his tree.

We just had to reassure him and remind him that:

  • There is Grace in abundance for him at the school! They know this is all new to him and will help him along.
  • He is a good kid with a good head on his shoulders. He’s not a vandal, he’s not mean, he doesn’t talk back, he knows what is right and what is wrong and, if he has any doubt, the Holy Spirit will activate his intuition and let him know.
  • Although he’s not the best speller (he scored a 4th grade level in Spelling on the school’s entrance exam) the school was not concerned and knows they can turn that around before the year is out. Plus, he scored an 11th grade level in Reading Comprehension and college level in Math! Being bored might be more of a concern than not keeping up. 😉
  • This isn’t a life sentence. He’s going to see if he likes a traditional school or, more to the point, does he like more aspects of it than he doesn’t (because there are always pros and cons to each situation). We can re-evaluate at the end of the first quarter, during Christmas break, etc., and the same goes for high school.

Yesterday before walking into the school, I prayed over him in the car. I went in the school with him to get him to his locker, do some decorating that didn’t get done on Back-to-School Night, show him where the classrooms were (he was stressed and nothing was sticking in his head), and to let him know he’s not in this alone. I was doing really well keeping my own shit together so as not to make him lose his until the Admissions Director and then the Principal came out of their offices when they saw us walk by, hug me and ask with sympathetic faces, “How ya doing, Mom?” NEVER ask someone holding their shit together with spider webs if they are OK!!! My son saw my eyes leaking and he didn’t need that on him, too! I do have to say they have been so wonderful and patient with us and I feel confident that B is in a safe place.

He had some trouble multi-tasking in a class, and he got his back up because two female teachers who talked about the rules of the school and in their classrooms used only scenarios with boys in them while describing what not to do (insert eye-roll). And he’s sad about all the things he won’t get to do because he’s chosen to be in school 5 days a week.

I have to admit, we were quite taken aback on Back-to-School Night when the Science teacher started talking about Evolution vs. Creationism, as well as a question on yesterday’s Science homework asking if you thought climate change was a fact. But we’re reminding ourselves that not everyone sees eye-to-eye on all issues and hearing another person’s perspective on any subject is educational. You can learn about a topic as well as learn about the person speaking.

He takes 3 classes (Civics, English & Science) 4 days a week and on the 5th day, he adds a 4th class, Health. You know, girls go off with a female teacher and boys go off with a male teacher (one of B’s coaches), and they talk about manly bits and other subjects. We have very open dialogues regarding our bodies, respect for each other, sex, drugs, etc., but it’s always just B with one or both of his parents. We felt it beneficial for B to discuss these and other topics with boys his age in the room and an adult leading. It’s good for a kid to know others do and feel the same things or are confused about the same things. The hubs and I also are hoping that subjects we have neglected to, or didn’t know to, bring up will be addressed by the Coach teaching the class and B can come home and continue the dialogue with us.

I know this is long, but I have to share one more things about B’s first day of school. I tried so hard to keep it together until I walked out of that school and I assumed I would sit and bawl in my car for an hour, so I passed on the Admission’s Director’s offer to come by her office for coffee and bagels. However, as soon as I walked out the door, my eyes dried up, I felt no emotion (god or bad) at all, and I got a headache. I didn’t want to go home, so I went to the local Chik-fil-A and sat in the parking lot looking at everyone’s back to school pix on Facebook until they started serving lunch at 10:30am. I ate my sandwich and drank my coke there and took the side salad for today’s lunch (which I’m eating right now). I drove to the liquor store and bought a pint of Tito’s because I knew I’d need it (and, DAMMIT, I deserved it!) with dinner.

As I drove home, I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t cried yet and why I had this headache. I was traveling on a road with a 55 MPH speed limit and had all the windows open. I cried out to God, “WHY can’t I cry?! I need to cry, I need to release all this before I pick him up so he doesn’t feel guilty or responsible for my normal, parenting grief! Please, God!” And you know what? The dam immediately broke and the sobs came. I reached up a hand to clear my eyes and all of a sudden there were tissues swirling around me, like I was in the eye of a tissue tornado. Even though I was going 60 MPH, none of them flew out the window. There were at least a dozen of them. I grabbed 2 out of the air and after dabbing my eyes, I looked around and there weren’t anymore tissues to be seen. I wondered where the tissues came from and then realized we usually keep a box of tissues in the back seat and the wind through the open windows must have flung them around.

When I got home, I searched the car for all the other tissues that were flying about and only found one more, which is a good thing because I needed to blow my nose! There was no box of tissues in the car, anywhere. The hubs had tasked B with cleaning the car out the week before. No tissues nor trash anywhere. I realized my headache was gone and that God had sent me the tissues. I am so humbled and blessed to be called His own and so thankful to Him for reaching out to me in my time of need.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

I’m not always my son’s favorite person (and, believe me, he’s not always mine!). However, no matter what kind of day we’ve had – lovefest or batting heads – he still comes and finds me before going to bed at night. Sometimes it’s a strong hug accompanied by, “Good night, Mama, I love you!” Sometimes it’s a silent, very loose, arms encircling without bodies touching, one pat on the back, you’re not my favorite person right now, kinda goodnight. And I’m OK with that.

As family, as friends, as countrymen, as earthlings, we’re NOT going to like everyone, all of the time! We’re going to stumble, make mistakes, hurt feelings and put our feet in our mouths – intentionally or unintentionally. However, when we get angry at, or are hurt/disappointed/let down by someone, we need to remember some things. WE are just as human/fallible/disappointing, at times, as the other person. 
I have learned from experience that Karma is real! For every time, word, circumstance I’ve judged another, I’ve later found myself in a similar circumstance. 
It’s a wonderful gift Jesus gives us: to walk in another’s shoes. So *really* pay attention when you’re there. Emerge yourself in those shoes! Absorb all the feelings you’ll receive and reflect on all the feelings you’ve inflicted on others. 
Then forgive, be forgiven, move on, and do better. 

Blessings by Laura Story

Have you ever heard the song Blessings by Laura Story?  If not, click on it, above, and listen to it before reading on. I’ve always loved that song. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’ve always liked the “sad” songs since I was a kid or maybe because what she is singing about resonates with me. But even though I love this song, I didn’t really understood it for the longest time. What blessings could possibly be found in our worst pains and losses?!

Then one day, a couple of years ago, I was in the car, this song came on the radio, and I immediately thought of Janet (not her real name). God connected the dots for me right there and showed me an example of what blessing could come out of Janet’s cancer and her family losing their child, sister and mother.  Before receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, Janet did not have the most positive attitude. She was not happy with her situation when she compared it to others’. Sometimes she felt others had an obligation to share their blessings with her because she didn’t have what they had. She focused on the things she didn’t have instead of the things and people she did.

When her cancer was discovered, it was pretty progressed and doctors were not optimistic.  But you know what?  Janet didn’t wallow in self-pity, didn’t wonder “Why me?” or get angry at God.  She had an amazing transformation in attitude, spirit and heart after her diagnosis.  She realized every moment on this earth and all the people in her life were precious and she wanted as much time as possible to let them know that and to show God she could praise him in the storm. She wasn’t going to accept defeat and die without a fight.

It took the knowledge that her time left on earth had an expiration date of months, not decades, to change.  Janet had a love of life and appreciation for each day and those with her like she’d never had before.  She praised God in private and out loud to whom she came in contact.  She went through ugly treatments and terrible side effects saying, “God is good!”, being grateful for medicine that helped her fight.  She turned it all over to God and trusted Him to get her through this.  And, oh boy, did God do amazing things in Janet! Her tumors started shrinking.  Doctors could not explain what was happening, but Janet knew. She was given more time to enjoy life since she was finally enjoying it they way God wanted her to. She lived so much longer than any doctor expected! And when the cancer started progressing again, quickly, she made sure she said everything that needed to be said to those she was leaving behind.

Her inspiration to all of us for having joy in her heart while going through treatments was a blessing.  Her example to her daughters of how to face fear, illness and the unknown head-on, with God, family and friends by her side was a blessing.  Her girls memories of their mom’s final months were of joy, love, believing in and receiving God’s healing, not the negative, unhappy woman she was before, and that was a blessing.

I wish she could have lived longer to do all the things she wanted to with her girls, and see them grow up and become moms of their own. Even though her life was cut short, at the end of her life she was blessed with an inner peace and love, something her family had wanted for her for so long. She was a wonderful example of hope, the power of prayer and how God is always waiting with open arms when we are ready to turn to Him.

Why am I writing this post now?  I was doing housework today with music on in the background and this song came on.  And them another example of a blessing came into my head.  Shortly after turning 2 yrs old, B became very sick. After he was released from the hospital, he was still ill, but we were sent home with diagnoses, medicines and machines and we had to learn to care for him. He was too sick to go to daycare some days and when he was well enough to go, they could not administer his meds per their policies.  I don’t blame them!  I asked my parents to watch him while I worked and they graciously said yes. Then, after a month of watching B, my mom sat me down and said she and my dad could no longer care for B. It was too much.  My dad had recently retired and they wanted to travel. They wanted to enjoy their grandchild and his needs needed to be met by me, his mother. She told me I needed to quit my job and take care of my son.

We were still paying medical bills from his hospital stay and now we had to go down to one salary?!  How would we make ends meet?! But it was the right thing for B so we did it.  And it was tough!  It’s still tough, 10 years later, to make ends meet on one salary. But they always do meet. We don’t have everything we want, but we always have what we need.  And the best part? We have a healthy, happy young man whom I’ve had the privilege to homeschool the past 5 years. That’s our blessing.

A couple of other examples popped into my head and then a voice said, “You should go blog about this. Others need to know, too.” Yes.  I heard a voice.  And I know Whose it is. He’s spoken to me a couple of times in the past few months and gave me instructions. Things I didn’t want to do because I was scared.  But after the fact, I knew He was right and I should have done them. I believe my fears would not have come to fruition because He put the opportunity there to begin with. He was going to hold my hand through something to show me I could do it but I didn’t want to trust Him. So today, I’m listening to Him and acting on it.

Have you received a blessing from tragedy, loss or pain? A heart attack could scare someone into changing their eating and exercise habits. Surviving a car crash, even though months of hospitalization or physical therapy is needed, could stop someone from ever texting and driving again. Did you ever see the movie Mr. Mom? Dad losing his job and staying home with the kids while his stay-at-home wife reentered the work force. Dad got to get to know his kids, make memories with them, and both parents got a greater appreciation for what the other did. A terrible accident or illness to a child, forcing a “super mom” to admit that she can’t do it all and a workaholic dad to get into the parenthood trenches and help, instead of just being the paycheck.

“The song Blessings really came out of a redefining of the word blessing that’s been going on in my life for a few years now. I grew up hearing that word blessed…I think subtilely I began to see blessing as something that was centered around health or prosperity. Which was hard these passed few years when I was facing a situation with my husband’s health. We were praying for healing and God, for whatever reason, wasn’t answering our prayers the way we wanted Him to. So, was He blessing us? That was our question….It’s just us investigating this idea of, could God possibly be blessing us through not giving us the things we’re praying for…Even though we do have more questions than answers at this point in time, I do know this: that there is a blessedness that comes through waiting on the Lord. There is an intimacy in our walk with the Lord that comes through walking through that valley. There is a reliance on His Word that we only know when everything else in life fades away. And so, in that sense, I truly feel like I’ve been blessed.” Laura Story

Does Roe v. Wade stand another look?

Legalized abortion in America has been a heated topic for decades.  After attending Catholic schools for 12 years, I never wanted to discuss the subject again!  We’d debated it enough in school and I felt no debate nor argument would change someone’s stance on the issue.  When I was young and naive, I saw the world as black or white/right or wrong, and I was Pro-Life.  I always wanted to be a mom and was saving myself for my husband, so I was against abortion, even pregnancies that resulted from rape and incest as.  “It’s not the child’s fault,” I would insist.  “They should put their innocent babies up for adoption!”  Then I lost my virginity at 18 when I was raped.  I couldn’t properly take care of myself for 2 years and cannot imagine having to be responsible for another life inside me at that time.  I am thankful I didn’t get pregnant, and learned my first, very hard lesson in judging another without having walked a mile in their shoes.

For the past 20+ years, I have been Pro-Choice.  I wish with all my heart that we lived in a world where abortions were not wanted nor needed.  But they are so I want them legal and regulated.  If women chose to have one, I want them to be able to hold their heads up high and be law-abiding citizens, not looking over their shoulder, forced to slink around and go to someone who could possibly harm them.  I also wish that an equal amount of all the time, energy and money put into protesting outside abortion clinics and lobbying to overturn Roe v. Wade be used to help the non-aborted babies and their mothers after they are born.   Mentoring the parents, bringing them food, helping them with housing, adopting or fostering the children who were abandoned by or taken away from ill-equipped parents.

Earlier this week, I watched a Law & Order rerun from season 20, called “Dignity”.  Executive Assistant District Attorney Cutter was prosecuting a man for the murder of an abortion doctor.  He was doing his job and saying the right things in court, but he had the following conversation with his boss back at the office.

EADA Cutter: In its day, Roe v. Wade conformed to what we knew then about human life and Science. Contraception was limited, most birth defects were untreatable. Thirty-five years later, birth defects can be corrected, disabled children are protected by a Bill of Rights, contraception of every kind is available–
DA Jack McCoy: Yet people who don’t want to still get pregnant.
EADA Cutter: So their rights should reign supreme? My God! Cats and dogs have more rights than the unborn! Roe v. Wade wasn’t written in stone. It could stand another look.
Wow. Cutter brought up valid points, in my opinion, about the advancements in medicine and the availability of contraception.  Points I’d never thought about.  You know what else he said?  He compared the murder suspect to John Brown and abortion to slavery to prove his point that our laws are not set in stone and “…could stand another look…” as times change.  That really made me think.
I don’t know what the answer is.  I don’t know the statistics, but I would think more abortions are performed because the pregnancy is unwanted than for birth defects or pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.  I don’t believe that employers should refuse to provide their female employees with contraception under their medical insurance because of the employer’s personal religious beliefs.  I don’t believe the men (and I say “men” because most of the politicians in this country are men) running our state and federal governments have a right to tell women what to do with their bodies.  However, I also believe that a baby is a separate body, a human, temporarily residing within another human.  Doesn’t that tiny human deserve rights?  And who should makes the decisions for those babies – parents or the state?  I see the pros and cons to both sides but can only come up with more questions, not answers.
However, I do believe that EADA Cutter is right: some laws are not set in stone and could stand another look.  Does that mean arguing the abortion issue before state or federal supreme courts?  Does that mean putting the issue on voting ballots?  I just don’t know what the answer is, or even if there is one, because the world and the people in it are not just “black or white”/good or bad.

My New Year’s Wish for All of You

IMG_20141226_095633

I’ve heard and read something disturbing throughout 2014 – people who are so angry they want to “throat punch” another human being. I’m Irish and I have quite the temper. Plus, I’ve had some dark times in my life; had good reason to dislike certain individuals. However, I’ve never felt the urge to hit someone in a way that could collapse their windpipe and possibly kill them.  You know why?  Because hatred is something I save for more important things, like poverty, inequality and genocide.  So, I have a New Year’s wish for all of you.

  • I wish you inner peace and self-acceptance.
  • I wish you control over yourself, your emotions, your reactions.
  • I wish that you don’t give anyone else power over yourself, your emotions, your reactions.
  • I wish you to be so busy loving and being kind to all people, that you don’t have time to notice ugliness and hate in others.
  • I wish you to be so busy loving and being kind to all people, that you notice the hurt and brokenness in others.
  • I wish you the ability to turn the other cheek.
  • I wish that if someone makes you angry enough to start thinking, “throat p….”, that you take a page from B’s book and, instead, yell out, “I’M IN MY AWESOME BUBBLE AND YOUR NEGATIVITY CAN’T GET TO ME TODAY!”  It really does work; B and I know from experience!
  • I wish you to remember that we have been instructed to do unto others as we’d do unto ourselves, regardless of whether or not others are affording you that same courtesy.
  • And last, but certainly not least, I wish you to be kind to yourself.  Quickly forgive yourself, move on and do not dwell when you come up short in your own eyes.  You are perfectly imperfect just as you are and wholly loved, valued and cherished by Our Father.

Happy New Year, my friends!

Hump Day is a perfect description for our Wednesdays lately!

image

B happily writing a song about Thanksgiving for his Songwriting class.

This is our second “semester” of B taking classes outside of the home regularly. It’s been fun and he’s learned things that I could not teach.   The classes are all at the same place and on in the same day of the week, which is very convenient. But it’s also tiring.

This semester he’s taking 3 classroom classes and was outside in a running class for the 2nd half of last semester and 1st half of this semester. With the running class, we were out of the house from 9am-5pm; since running is over, it’s 10:15am-5pm. When we get home, we grab a quick dinner made by the hubs and dash out for another activity that is 6-9pm.

In October, we joined a Circle at our church. A Circle is a small group of men, women, couples or families who meet regularly. Spiritual formation is meant to happen in community, not just in private. Some circles study the Bible, share their stories, perform community service together or all the above. We were invited to join an existing circle when one of the families moved out of state. Our circle meets every Wednesday from 6-9pm, and each family hosts 2 months a year.

Circle has been a wonderful blessing in all 3 of our lives, but it is quite taxing on this introvert!  When we dash home for dinner, I am DONE. I don’t want to go back out. I want to get in my jammies, be served dinner by the hubs and crawl in bed, shutting out all the noise and movement of the world. Even B, my extrovert, is showing some wear and tear. 😯  Something has to give!  (BTW, we are in AWE of families who go to work/school all day and then have extra curricular activities/homework/sports/church activities/dinner/together time, all before bed. Y’all are superheroes!)

Yesterday, B and I had a heart-to-heart talk about what to do.  We decided to take the next semester off from these outside classes. Winter weather has already set in and, with the amount of snow they are predicting our region will receive this Winter, the idea of hibernating in PJs with Life of Fred, US History and Brave Writer sounds lovely! When the hubs came home from work yesterday afternoon, we told him what we’d decided and he declared it was good. 😉

When we arrived at classes this morning, B headed straight to his first classroom and I went to sign him in before retiring to the parents’ lounge. At the sign-in table, the class list for the 3rd semester was being handed out and date of registration was announced. I made a terrible mistake – I took a class list!
Digital photography! Species effects for film making (the industry in which B wants to work as an adult)! DNA! The US Constitution! Robotics! 😮  I know I should keep this list from B, but I really want to show him, hope he gets as excited as me and then bugs the hubs to go! 😄

What to do?!

1 2 4
%d bloggers like this: