Saturday, September 24, 2011

More on Friendship

I still have notebooks and computer files full of the info I gathered as I pondered and researched the idea and art of friendship. It's not doing anyone any good in these files and notebooks so I am copy and pasting and typing handwritten pages like crazy so I can share this stuff with who ever is interested because I do know from personal experience how very important true and lasting friendship is in our lives :-)  

[According to a study documented in the June 2006 issue of the journal American Sociological Review, Americans are thought to be suffering a loss in the quality and quantity of close friendships since at least 1985. The study states 25% of Americans have no close confidants, and the average total number of confidants per citizen has dropped from four to two

The conventional wisdom is that good friendships enhance an individual's sense of happiness and overall well-being. But a number of solid studies support the notion that strong social supports improve a woman's prospects for good health and longevity. Conversely, it has been shown that loneliness and lack of social supports are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections, and cancer as well as higher mortality rates. Two female researchers have even termed friendship networks a "behavioral vaccine" that protects both physical and mental health] ~ web article 


"The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once described friendship as "a sheltering tree." What a beautiful description of that special relationship. As I read those words, I think of my friends as great, leafy trees, who spread themselves over me, providing shade from the sun, whose presence is a stand against the blast of winter's lonely winds. A great, sheltering tree; that's a friend.
David was leaving the great city of Zion---the city named after him, the City of David. As he came to the edge, at the last house, he stopped and looked back over that golden metropolis he had watched God build over the past years. His heart must have been broken as he stood there looking back, his mind flooded with memories. All around him the people of his household scurried past, leading beasts of burden piled high with belongings, running for their lives.
He was at the last house, and he needed a tree to lean on. Somebody who would say, "David, I'm here with you. I don't have all the answers, but, man, I can assure you of this, my heart goes out to you." When the chips are down and there's nobody to affirm you and you run out of armor and you have no reputation to cling to, and all the lights are going out, and the crowd is following another voice, it's amazing how God sends a sheltering tree.
All of us need at least one person with whom we can be open and honest; all of us need at least one person who offers us the shelter of support and encouragement and, yes, even hard truths and confrontation. Sheltering trees, all!
Thankfully, David had a grove of such trees. As a result he made it through the toughest and loneliest hours of his life.
Do you? If so, it is a good time to call them up and thank them for their shelter. If not, it's a good time to get a shovel and plant a few. You'll need every one. Just ask David."
~ Swindoll


The seven points below came from the same web article that I shared at the very beginning of this post. I went through and researched the Word and added the Scriptural references to each of these points. I love how mankind sometimes thinks they have come up with some grand idea and gained some awesome strategic plan and indepth insight for a good and happy and fulfilling life all on thier own, when God has had all the instructions for this life already laid out for us, in writing nonetheless, for over 4000 years.

To Have A Friend - Be A Friend

1) Desire best for other
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil 2:1-4)
2) Sympathy and Empathy

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15)
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corin 12:26)

3) Honesty

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good (Romans 12:9)
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy (Prov 27:6)
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices (Col 3:9)

4) Understanding and Compassion

Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (Rom 15:7)

5) Trust and Emotional Support

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:1-2)
Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves (Rom 15:1)

6) Give and Take

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality (Rom 12:10-13)

7) Don’t judge one another

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”  So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.  Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. (Rom 14:1-13)


“wounds from a sincere friend are better than kisses from an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). If God has placed someone in your life who is willing to challenge you about your spiritual shortcomings, take a lesson from David. Listen carefully—without getting mad—to God’s messenger, and admit your mistake. Then, like David, you can ask God to remove the stain of your guilt, and joyfully sing of His forgiveness (Psalm 51:9,14).

When was the last time someone pointed out some painful truth to you? How did you respond? Why is it sometimes most difficult to confront people close to us about their spiritual shortcomings?
~Jennifer Benson Schuldt


I wanted to leave you with this last quote because I love the questions that she asked at the end. Why is it that we seem to find it harder to address the spiritual shortcomings in someone we are close to? Usually, if we are in the least bit evangelical we are willing to point these out to a stranger, but a close friend or family member we will not. We will walk around the issue, it will be the white elephant in the room, we will leave them drowning in their sin and groping in their darkness and pretend like we don't see it. 

It reminds me of when you are talking with someone and there's a "visitor" in their nose or a hunk of food stuck in between their front teeth and you just act like you don't see it while you talk to them and then you let them walk away and continue to keep these things in their nose and teeth because you are afraid of embarrasing them by pointing it out. Then do you not usually turn to someone else and say, "did you see that bugger in their nose, I could hardly keep a straight face, it was flappin every time they breathed!" (Hmmmm sounds a little like the way most of us deal with sin in a "friends" life as well doesn't it) 

Which is more embarrassing?
To be told by a friend, "hey there's a bugger hanging out of your nose. You might want to take care of that before you talk to anyone else" or to have someone let you go on and talk to fifty more people and then you finally step in front of the mirror and are completely mortified because you have just talked to over fifty people with a bugger hanging out your nose?

Just some things to think about... a bugger is not going to lead to death or consequences that are devasting to bear, but well sin and spiritual darkness... now that's a different story. Isn't it?  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Homeschool Mom Encouragement

This was in our cover school's newsletter. It's an article from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine,  thought I would share :-)

I think I've come to realize after all these years that first and foremost, I want to be a "heart and soul homeschool mama." That's all that really matters. My house is a mess (stop by unannounced and I probably won't answer the door - my living room is a disaster). Take a look at my kitchen; normally you will be hard pressed to find the counters. My couch (what couch? Where'd it go??) is overrun by clean laundry waiting (patiently and forever) to be folded and put away. Hey, at least it's clean! My bedroom door stays closed, because, well, never mind. I won't even go there because to describe the clothes behind closet doors, make-up spilled on the counters and a toilet that looks a little...well....not as white as it used to, would just be embarrassing. Seriously - my house is pretty messy. For the most part it's really sanitary – I have an obsession with "cleaner wipes" as we call them. My kids are constantly wiping down furniture and doorknobs, tables and chairs and the counters when we can find them. I love to cook and wash my hands too many times. We're clean. We're just . . . slobs.
Epic success!

So I am not a "house cleaning super mama." I gave up that dream long ago, like four minutes after I said, "I do." Nor am I a "brainiac homeschool mama". My kids have gaps, holes and stops in their education. They did alright; the two that have graduated went on to do a few semesters at college and got straight A's in everything they took, even all the math (yuck). Well, Lukey got ONE B (history). Other than that, they are 4.0 college boys. So something went OK in the homeschooling I guess. But yeah, there are holes. We didn't dissect a frog - ever. That is just sick and I am not going there. My house is gross enough as it is and knowing us, someone would lose a liver in the clean laundry and we'd never find that frog. One of my friends ordered a cow's eyeball and it was delivered via MAIL (oh my gross). She rolled that puppy right onto her kitchen table and sliced and diced away with her kids. Then they stored the thing in her fridge.
OK. Well, then.

I am not a "braniac homeschool mama" - sorry, just can't do it. First of all, I'm not a brain like my cow-eyeball wielding friend. I have another friend who is a homeschool mom who also happens to be our lawyer. Her  child probably could have graduated when he was 13. She's a constant stream of brain-power and she imparts it all to her lucky boy who is almost as smart as she is by now. Crazy. I can't do it. I am simply not equipped. But we did the basics and had loads of conversations and put the time into a bazillion documentaries and traveling around on business, plus read books aloud when we could. We also did loads of reading comprehension.
Epic success!

I am not a "fashion-ado homeschool mama." I'm chubby! My hair gets brushed (and I am serious) two to three times a week at best. It's frizzy - why would I want to comb it out? Then it would be an afro that would touch the ceiling and put people in danger of being static-shocked. My babies would get lost in it. So keep it tight, leave it alone, slather it with gel if someone is coming over - good enough. I'm like a female version of
Ronald McDonald and I am NOT the only person who's told myself that. So fashion is not really me. I'm not beautiful like some of my homeschool friends who look so well-put together. They have gorgeous manes that they probably comb out every day. Their shoes match. And their teeth are straight and white. Makeup? Can you believe some people wear it daily (more maniacal laughter - sorry). Fashion Gena is just not in existence. Never has been. This homeschool mama cannot even match her necklace to her shoes (although I did try once). My hair is kinda clean and I wear deodorant.
Epic success!

I am not a "field trip homeschool mama." OK these mamas are great but I cannot keep up with them! They have a field trip experience for every other day of the week. Their kids have been to the Grand Canyon (mine have not). Their kids have visited flight museums and experienced Jamestown and all the reenactment festivals for both sides of the Civil War (mine haven't). They can recite the Gettysburg Address and know all the historical/educational landmarks of Philadelphia (mine don't). Busy, busy learning by experiencing. They'd fly to every planet for a field trip if they could. And my hat is off to them!
Look at the investment they are pouring into their children! Hands on learning - can't beat it. Just wish I had time for such a thing (I think). Sounds exhausting and I'm tired even thinking about it. I am not a "field trip homeschool mama" like several of my better friends. But we have traveled when we can, visited faraway places in books and get out here and there.
Epic success!

What kind of mama am I? I don't have the corner on a clean and lovely home. I am not a brain who can pontificate over my children pouring set-to memory knowledge in their craniums (I don't have that much stuff memorized!). I am not that well put together - Mrs. Ronald, remember? (I stopped dying my hair red because the resemblance is then even more uncanny and it's disturbing). And I am not constantly whisking my kids away to the Alps for PE or to the Golden Gate Bridge or Crater Lake for geography. I am a "heart and soul mama." I'm here for them when they need me, relationships are first and foremost and I want them to know the Lord their God with all their heart and soul. I want to get to their hearts and have an impact on what happens with their souls. I want to bare my own heart, and I want us to build on that as our family continuously draws closer to each other and to the Lord.

It's the Lord who reaches the heart and soul, and He uses us Moms in many ways to do it. By REGULARLY speaking to their hearts and guarding their souls we are creating an atmosphere for flourishing growth. Is that a perfect picture? If comparing it to fine art, it may look very abstract or even Impressionistic in style (crazy swirls and wide brush strokes) and sometimes quiet messy, but keep walking (even if you're not as organized as you'd like to be) because it IS a form of fine art, divinely inspired and very much a part of His sovereign plan for our lives. He directs our steps if we follow Him. And He values your children even more than you do. He loves them. He loves you.
Keep walking.

(Reprinted from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Missing the Point

So I have just finally calmed my ten year old daughter down after her meltdown.
What was the cause of the meltdown?
Scripture verses!
Yes, that's right... Scripture verses.

We have a particular Wednesday night program that we do at our church for the children. The purpose of the program is wonderful. It is focused on Scripture memorization and the leaders are to work with the children to help them understand the Scriptures they are memorizing. The point is to hide God's Word in their heart. It is a good program and I understand that it must have guidelines and such. There must be a plan that makes and markets it as this particular program in order to differentiate it from all the other programs.

One of the leaders who worked with my daughter told me how nervous and uptight my daughter was as she tried to say her verses. She lovingly told her to relax and remember that this was the Word of Peace.

Now my ten year old is a perfectionist and she is also possibly a little ocd. So when the leader, who is also dear friend, mentioned this to me a red flag of concern went up. When we came home tonight and was getting the girls ready for bed my husband asked what verses they said. Our youngest spirted hers off with her careless giggles as she recited three verses back to back. Then our ten year old, under the pressure, oh my, I do believe the child broke out in a cold sweat. She couldn't get past the first part of the first verse...

Right then I knew we were having a problem... she was missing the point...

As I was kissing her goodnight I tried to explain to her that memorizing Scripture was for her. It was not to get points or a signature. She was learning these Scriptures so that God could bring them back to her when she needed them, whether it be for a problem she was facing or a problem someone else was facing. She was learning these Scriptures so that she could know when God was telling her what she needed to do and where she needed to go in all the how's and why's of life.

Yet she lay there crying because she was under the understanding that she was incompetent because she could not say these verses the way she thought this program said she had to in order to receive the approval of the program... a signature... a point.

Oh my are we missing the point?

This is not the view that I want my child to have of the Word of God. Learning it should bring her joy and peace not frustration and stress. Have we maybe pushed the "programs" a little too far?

"I have a respect for tradition but I have a passion for the truth."
~ Uncle Johnny from Seven Days in Utopia

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don't See! Don't Touch!

We develop a very narrow definition of what we call "likeminded" people, based on the outworkings of our values and opinions. Now we are on a path to exclusivity when we will no longer associate with those who will be with us in eternity. Is it possible we have lost sight of fellowship based on love and devotion to Jesus, and have substituted personal standards and a narrow view of Christian liberty?

There are several serious consequences of raising children in a home marked by pride and judgment. Children may grow up also judging others. Or, they may hide their real values, acting as though they embrace our values, when, in fact, they are simply seeking to avoid discipline and lectures at home. Or, they may see the shallowness of our legalistic faith that consists primarily of "avoid this, wear that, attend this," and not be attracted to it in the least.

I am convinced that the most contagious parenting is living a heartfelt faith before your children. Fruitful interaction is not about what you do to your young people, but who you are with them. It's about having a real faith in God, and expressing it in a real relationship with a real person--not about methods and self-working principles. God intends that the side-effect of loving Jesus and enjoying the grace of the gospel will be that all people--including our children--will be touched by the Savior in us. I pray in Jesus' name that as you read these words you will experience the grace of God in a fresh and new way. ~ Reb Bradley

These are just a few paragraphs pulled from a really good article, Homeschool Blindspots by Reb Bradley. A friend of mine posted it on her facebook page.

As a Homeschool Mom this is stuff I need to hear. You see we didn't choose to homeschool our children so that we could put them in a bubble. We chose to homeschool for several reasons but complete life sterility and quarantine was not one of them.

We homeschool to teach them from a Biblical worldview. In this teaching we discuss other worldviews and weigh them against what the Word of God says. We want to open our children's minds to life outside themselves, not close them up in their own artificially formed reality. We don't run from the tough issues and from the many different beliefs and cultures around us and in our world. We try to talk about them in an informative non-judgmental way.

(Of course this is something that I have learned as I have grown in my walk with the Lord. I tell people now that I was one of those borderline obnoxious believers when I first surrendered my life to Christ. If you didn't look like you felt like I felt then I felt you weren't saved and it was my dire responsibility to tell you how I felt about how you needed to really get to know Jesus because by my evaluation of you, you obviously did not... I am thankful that God placed me amongst those who were willing to tolerate me, be patient with me, and love me though my growing pains and who continue to love me... because I certainly am not fully mature yet)   

I have learned in my growth that this walk with Christ is more about what we do, not what we do not. Usually if we are just focused on the "do" of loving God with our whole heart and getting to know Him, then the "do not's" take care of themselves. It's kind of like when you fall head over heels in love with that "one"... everyone else just ain't all that important anymore. They have lost their ability to impress you, because you have found "the one" and your focus is getting to know them more and spending every possible spare moment with them. You don't have to walk around and place do not see and do not touch signs on everybody else in order to stay away from them... you just simply don't even think about them in that way anymore because your heart and eyes are captivated by "the one".

So I decided that my job as a homeschool mom was just to glorify God in all that we do. To magnify the glory of His majesty and praise Him in all things.

I also learned that it was to be honest with my kids. It meant to be real with them. It meant when I knew I had been short tempered, easily frustrated, and flat-out wrong in my behaviour toward them or another I was to confess it and ask their forgiveness and maybe even ask them to pray with me. I want them to see how God works in His amazing grace.

We also did not choose to homeschool in order to segregate our children to only people who look like us and believe like us. Due to the lack of diversity where we live our children would be more segregated and closed minded from being in public school. We enjoy the opportunity that homeschool gives us to expose our children to different cultures and to show them the beauty in each individual, in every nation, tribe, and tongue. We want our girls to know that mankind is not the enemy, they are they the mission. God's desire is for all mankind to come to Him and be saved.

We also did not choose homeschool in order to protect our children from different denominational beliefs in the body of Christ. We have chosen to expose them to these differences and point out to them the foundational principles that we all hold alike and are teaching them to hold to these and those that do not hold to the foundation of Christ are not Christian at all.

  "Therefore I make known to you
that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says,
“Jesus is accursed”;
and no one can say,
“Jesus is Lord,”
except by the Holy Spirit."  
1 Corinthians 12:3

I write so that you will know
how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God,
which is the church of the living God,
the pillar and support of the truth. 
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
   He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
1 Timothy 3:15-16

Our church is an elder governed Southern Baptist church, but my girls have family and very good friends whose church is Catholic, or Church of Christ, or Assembly of God, or Methodist. Our girls have attended these churches with their friends and family and we have discussed the differences and we always come back to the foundation and this is where we stand and this is where we love. 

We also chose to homeschool so that we would actually see our children. My husband works 12 hour swingshifts. He was up and gone to work before the girls even were out of bed and then he got home in just enough time for a late supper and to send them off to bed. If you add church attendance and ministry and any sports or extra curricular activity in there... well we just had no family time at all. We have a very short time with our children... we homeschool so that we can take advantage of it.

We vacation when it's convenient for our family... not when the school board says we can. If my child is sick I can care for them and I don't have to pay a co-pay for a doctor's excuse so that I won't be turned over to a truancy officer. I suppose these are some of the "rebellious reasons" for our choice... but we just had a hard time swallowing being told what we "had to do" concerning our children. It was like we dropped them off at the door and then all of a sudden we became accountable to the teachers and school instead of the teachers and school being accountable to us. Yeh... we didn't like that too much. 

The very last thing we want to do as parents is teach artificial life... I don't want my girls to follow me. I want them to follow Christ. I don't want them to pursue a tradition. I want them to pursue Truth. I want them to ask questions and seek answers. Because guess what I am still learning life and love myself. I am still growing in grace and knowledge of the truth of God. I just might teach them something wrong. I just might learn something new and have truth revealed to me and need to change in order to line up with Truth... my girls need to know that's what real learning is.

We homeschool so that our girls won't be shoved into a mold, so that they might learn that they are the clay in the hands of the Master Potter and they must allow themselves to remain soft and pliable and workable in His hands... and no one else's.

So as a believer, as a homeschool mom, I desire to protect my girls. I desire to set standards that are expected to be kept, to discipline them according to the Word and I must be careful to not run around with my constant, "don't see! don't touch!" which I have learned always comes from the root of fear that they will live the same regrets that I do... or be hurt in a way that I was... or even worse than I was.

I have to remember that I cannot control them... I am to lead them in the way of godliness pointing them always to Christ and His Word and then I must trust God to carry the one's that He formed within my womb. He loves them even more than I do or am even capable of loving them in this flesh... that in itself never ceases to amaze me.

If you have died with Christ
to the elementary principles of the world,
why, as if you were living in the world,
do you submit yourself to decrees,
such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 
(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 
These are matters which have,
to be sure,
 the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion
and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body,
but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
Colossians 2:20-23