Sunday, July 15, 2012

lessons in letting go...

Both of my boys left for church camp today.  BOTH of them.
                               (why, yes, my son does have blue hair.  Team spirit!)

 Josh, my oldest, is a pro at this week-long camp thing.  Between his stint in scouts and other church camps, this is not his first time away.  Jake, however, has never been away to camp.  He is a ball of nervousness and excitement!

       (my oldest is a MUCH happier person than it looks; just not when a camera is around)

While I have my fleeting mom moments of worry, I couldn't be happier for both of my boys to experience this time with God, time with great friends and great leaders/friends in our church. I hand them over to people I trust and who love my children and care about them... as a family should.  In reality, though, I hand them over into God's hands.  He will protect, lead and stretch all of us this week.   I am excited for them for I wait expectantly to see how God will use this week.

            Josh and one of the leaders, an amazing woman of God, teasing him!  Love it!

                                              Our awesome youth pastor!  He rocks!

          Jake, his friends, and the great camp counselors from our church!  Great group of people!

My prayer for both boys is for friendships as deep as David and Jonathan forming on this trip.

I pray for  faith as solid and un-moving as Peter and Paul's.  I pray for the godly examples that are the adults that have sacrificed their time to help my children know Him better. I know my life was forever changed by a persistent youth pastor and his wife.  I pray that they return home with a renewed heart that responds "I am here" as Samuel did. Mostly, though, that they would unashamedly bow before the One who formed them and saved them and that, whether all or none go with them, they'd desire to go it alone, anyway.

I am confident that they will both have a memorable time and I hope, life-changing.

Yet, this mama, through these little experiences like this, is learning to let go.  I'll be honest.. it's sad and a little painful.. similar to lifting a band-aid off skin very slowly.  It is easy to forget in their little years that our purpose as parents is to train them to leave us, to "Go into the world...".  The world says our goal is to raise them to be successful but God says our goal is to teach them to be followers and fishers of men.  The success part, I'll leave that to God to handle.

So while it stings a little, I must remember that the boys are not truly mine.  They don't truly belong to me.  They belong to Him.  I could snatch them out of His hands and bubble wrap them and never let them out of my sight or experience life but I know I would only accomplish stunting and debilitating them. Trust me, I've tried this a few times.  Major parenting fail here.  Don't try this approach!  Besides, a mother's heart isn't to hurt or hinder her children but we must be careful our parenting tactics don't do that very thing.  I know my heart is not to handicap my boys from the life they were called to live... I want to help them achieve it.  And that begins... by letting go.

In all truth, though, my mom heart aches.. not to keep them home with me (ok, maybe a little) but to slow down my time with them! It is speeding by so fast.  It seems like just yesterday I was teaching Jake to talk and helping him walk and now, he walks out the door, away from me and Chris, on his own.

 And this is a great thing.  It really it is.  Josh has these deep thoughts and opinions that he came up with ALL ON HIS OWN!  When did that happen?!  :)

 So, while I stay behind and fill my days with overdo tasks and some overdue rest and relaxation, I know confidently that when I let go and let God take over, amazing things are going to happen!  My prayer is that my boys will be forever changed this week as they meet Him in a new environment and in new ways!
                                    First time at camp; last one to leave!  Love, love my boys!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A little Saturday morning encouragement... (ignore the the last 13 seconds where it turns into an ad)...

 If you don't see the Bible in this way, I challenge you to examine why...

Don't presume it is just words on a page.  Absolutes. Authority. Purity. Self-denial. Heaven and Hell.  A Savior.  The redemption of fallen humanity. Forgiveness. Holy. Righteous.  Sweeter than honey and finer than gold. It's a map. It's a light.  It's a mirror.  It's a sword. It's a hammer.  It is perfect and trustworthy. It is living and active and.. if you're spiritually dead... it will bring. you. to. life!

Have a blessed day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Trail Guide to Learning: Preparing for the Path of Exploration...

Even though we just wrapped up the school year only a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd get a leg-up on prepping for this upcoming school year.  I began with printing out the work of Path of Exploration for my soon-to-be 5th grader.  You will definitely need a good printer for this curriculum OR plan to purchase the student notebook.  I opted to print out the worksheets, maps and games since we have a reliable laser printer.

As the printing began, I felt more and more excited for the next school year to begin!  I don't know whether it's the history courses that each of my boys will be taking (Josh will be working through Mystery of History Volume II - the Early Church and the Middle Ages) or if I just genuinely enjoy organizing (or both), but I found myself reading many of their assignments! Not so much with the math curriculum.  :)

 I can't wait to get started!

(sorry, blogger keeps flipping this photo!)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sayonara, FB...

Well, I did it.  Almost a month ago, I deleted my Facebook account.  Now, some of you may be thinking, "Big deal".  Others may be thinking, "Are you nuts?".  And a few of you have verbally said to me, "Come back!".  :)

Yet, I can't.  I am unencumbered.  I am free.. and I can't go back.

I left Facebook for so many reasons.  Reasons, perhaps, too lengthy to list here but I'll attempt to, anyway. Things like drama that rivaled high school (and I did NOT "do" nor tolerated drama in high school why would I want to allow that in my life as an adult??), unhealthy comparing and competition, and a mode that not only fosters shallow friendships but turns real friendships into.. well, a convenience.  No longer would I have to pick up the phone or shoot my friend an email and see how she was doing.  I could just read about it on Facebook and be all caught up... and never reach out.

Which leads me to ask the question is Facebook now how we maintain "real" friendships?  I think not.  I would often leave Facebook feeling successful and accomplished for "maintaining" a friendship when in actuality, I made a fleeting comment.  Hardly 'salt and light' in the world, you know?  Because, the thing is, I'm not actually IN the world.  Facebook is a pseudo-world. I'd much rather give a positive comment to a friend in person. I'm much rather catch up with someone over tea.  I'd much rather invest myself in a few good friends than 200+ friends that I never or rarely see, let alone, have difficulty maintaining relationships with all.   For me, I need the face to face, one on one time.  A passing comment spoken every once in awhile or silently following someone doesn't make them part of my current life or spark a deeper friendship. 

 Investment.  That is what creates meaningful relationships.  Fellowship.  Truth.  Laughter.  Hugs.  All of these things that make up a friendship, I haven't really found on Facebook.  Please don't misunderstand my words.  I'm not saying I didn't have great friends on Facebook.  I'm saying my great friendships haven't been made or maintained via Facebook.   A cyber-world can't do what the real world can only do.

Besides, while glued to the computer voyeuristically (is this a word??) reading about other people's days, vacations, drama or what they ate (??)... what opportunities am I missing that God is putting right in front of me?  A new neighbor that needs a welcoming smile and conversation?  A child who is nursing hurt feelings for feeling secondary to mom's "friends" in the computer?  An opportunity to spend time with a real, live person??

This cyber-world has proven to be too heavy for my heart.  I have seen more hurt feelings, misunderstandings, misinterpretations and complaining in this pseudo-world than I care to entertain.  I became weary of the load that negativity was placing on me.  Yet, like a train wreck, I couldn't not watch.  Person A would post inflammatory comments or even brazen comments not normally said in a face to face conversation but then Person A would be hurt and offended when Persons B, C, and D would give their opposing opinion or equally brazen words on Person A's thoughts.  And I would ask myself, "Really?  You didn't see that coming?" And the complaining.  Oh my!  Friends that would never miss a moment to criticize and complain about... anything.  You name it... it was fodder for complaining.  This is not something I want to read.  Any of it.  This is the very stuff I want to guard my heart and mind from. I don't want to entertain a negative spirit.  This, and so much more, weighed me down.  It made my heart hurt.

 Not one that typically compares myself to other or is competitive, I would find myself slipping into this mode often.. much to my surprise. Let's get brutally honest here for a second.. I can't write this without mentioning the competitive spirit that exists on Facebook.  It drives the motive of many a status and page.  The spirit of "My  __________ (insert vacation, husband, children, spiritual walk, talents, finances, etc.) is better than yours "is oozing out of Facebook. To be fair, I know that is not the intention of all, however, recognizing this as a common theme caused me to look deeply into my own motives for what I would post.  Was it to boast?  Was it to make myself superior in knowledge, faith or economic status?  Was it to present a perfect life where nothing bad ever happens?  I really had to examine my motives of WHY I felt the need (impulse, really) to post what I felt I should/could/would.  

Then, there is the competition of the number of friends or likes one has.  Even if this competition is just in our head, it is still dangerous and stirs up insecurity and assumptions.  Sadly, though, it is not just in our heads.  I've heard many a friend and blogger hang their hat on the number of friends or followers they have.. and their self-worth is tied into that number.  This makes me  so sad for our worth doesn't come from a cyber-world or how many "likes" we get or how many people follow our blog.  Our worth comes from the One who gave His life, seeing us as worthy enough to do so.  To save us from ugly death. 

  However, the most groaning that came from my heart is the reality of how Facebook was changing  me.  Sure, I can look at the behavior of others and point a finger but the reality is, I didn't like who *I* was while on Facebook.  The time lost, the opportunities lost, the jumble of feelings that would knot up in my stomach when walking away from Facebook, my motives... all of it just wasn't right. I didn't like me when I entered this cyber-world.  Frustration.  Hurt feelings.  Assuming one thing when the truth of the situation was something else.  Insecurity.  Jealousy.  Slighted.  Ignored.  Facebook had become an idol.. without my even knowing it.  It became a constant fixture in my life that eclipsed many real-life friendships and the relationships with the people God put right in front of me.  Too much time was given to this world that doesn't really exist.. and, for me, not a healthy world.  It became a distraction to the life I was called to live. 

 Yes, we all joke about the time-wasting but my heart hurt over my personal mis-use of the time given to me.  The truth is I will stand before my Lord one day and answer for how I have used my time (among other things).  I'm pretty sure Facebook won't rank up there as a task that constitutes "redeeming the time".

Oh sure, for a long time I justified that this world was real.  It gave me a chance to reconnect with long lost relatives or friends... and let's face it, Jesus is all about relationships!  Right?  Right?   I justified that I was "sharing" my life and interesting information with my "friends".  The truth is posting what I'm doing this weekend or a funny thought from my kiddos doesn't get me any closer to my Facebook friends or relatives. I didn't walk away with stronger and/or restored relationships.  I walked away feeling more disconnected and feeling that I had a whole lot of friendships without deep roots. 

I had to ask myself if Facebook enhanced and grew true friendships?   OR my relationship with God?  Or detract from them?  For me, the answer was detract.  and distract.  No bueno.

So, I threw off that which hindered me and entangled my emotions and time.  I have walked away.. and it feels good.  This has been another step of healing for me.  The friends and family who are my friends know how to contact me.  They know where to find me.  I did lose touch with some dear people to me... my youth pastor and his wife; old friends that have moved away and I don't have contact info.  Yet, for my sanity and spiritual health, I had to quit cold turkey. So that I could be rid of the internal conflict and negativity that embraced me.  

And I am free.

No turning back.  No turning back. 

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.             
                                                                                    Hebrews 12:1-2