What would your mother do? Pray.

What can one mom even do to make a difference?

We moms need to know this.

More of a short series about all the huge little things moms do. It’s not a contest, but let’s all tell about our memories of those little things that mean so much, that only moms know how to do best. ❤

My mom was very, very private about her spiritual life.

I did not even know she had one, actually,

I think she always sort of believed that was between her and God.

pexels-photo-110874.jpegHowever, on the day I came to her and grumbled that the rain outdoors was keeping me from playing out there, I learned.

I remember it like yesterday. I don’t know how old I was, but I was tall enough that the washing machine top came to my shoulders.

I remember we were in the laundry room when I grumbled, and my mom was right there, hearing. This is what she said:

Kathy, I don’t ever want to hear you complaining about the rain. We need rain badly and I prayed for this rain. And now we have some and we are very happy.

Well, that got my attention.

I remember feeling uncomfortable about hearing her talk of real prayer with real answers. It really was a sort of confession of her faith, and I would have felt lots better hearing it if I’d had another grown-up with me to help me carry the heavy load of my mom’s answered prayers.

I felt too little to hear such grown-up things.

But I grew into it. And now I pray. And I never complain about the weather.

What about you? Did your mother pray? Do you know what she prayed for? Was she private about it?

He'll return in the clouds

Overheard: The Manger Is Empty…

…But so is the grave.

Jesus just is not here, visibly, these days. We cannot go up to Him and walk a mile or two with Him, these days. We cannot hear Him speaking with our physical ears, cannot touch the scars in His hands, cannot set our children on His lap.

But the day is coming.

When Jesus departed from this world, angels appeared to His friends to tell them:

This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:11

And, although the Bible shows us in many places that He will come back in a cloud, just as He left, it is careful to point out one difference in His manner of reappearing. When He left, He was quietly teaching His faithful few. However, when He returns:

…the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God… 1 Thessalonians 4:16

Then, in the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians, we read that Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

The adorable baby in the manger scene is history, only one part of the Good News. The rest of the Gospel will be more terrifying, more like what the Shepherds saw when the angels appeared to them and had to tell them not to be afraid, because it was SUCH a sight.

Will there be other differences?

Yes.

The first time Jesus came, it was quietly and humbly, through the act of human birth, in a shelter meant for animals, and few recognized Him for who He was–one of Mary’s cousins, some shepherds, a handful of prophets from afar, a couple of elderly people at temple–then after His miracles, there were more, hundreds or maybe thousands, but not like when He returns.

  • The next time He comes, there will be no doubt, everyone on earth will see Him in all His grandeur, and recognize Him as the Lord.

The first time, He came in poverty, the son of a workingman, dressed simply.

  • The next time, He will come in glory, the Son of the Living God, dressed in a robe dipped in blood.

The first time, Jesus came as an ordinary person with eyes of compassion, who had no crown except of thorns.

  • When He comes again, He will be wearing many crowns and His eyes will blaze with fire.

The first time Jesus came to Jerusalem riding a lowly donkey and those who knew Him bowed before Him.

  • Next time? A magnificent white horse will be His mount, and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess He is Lord.
    And all will realize He is the Pierced One.
    And they will mourn.
    And there will be no doubt who He is, for He will display His title boldly, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”.

Yes, He is coming back.

However, how many of those who gaze upon the innocent little Babe out in the cold and say, “Awwww…,” will gape at the King returning in a blaze of fire and begin trembling?

The first time, He was a gentle servant. The next time He will be as a conquering general of a powerful army that no physical or spiritual means can defeat, or even begin to touch.

The first time, He came as a man of peace, to lay down His life to save others. The next time He is coming to use His sword against His enemies: those who deliberately refused to believe Him and aligned themselves with His demonic enemy.

The first time He came, He gave us all a second chance to become sons of the Living God. The next time, no one will have a single chance. Those who think God doesn’t care about sin anymore will be in for a rude awakening.

The first time He came, He cried out, “Father, forgive them…” The next time, the time for forgiveness will be over.

Boycotting, suing, fining, jailing, firing, and removing children from Christians, solely because of their faith, will come to an abrupt stop, even in this country.

And His mission will be different:

First time: He frustrated all who knew Him, because they knew about His power and thought He should just take over dictatorial Rome and establish a never-ending kingdom. But that was not in His mission statement, then.
Next time: Taking over is exactly the plan, according to all prophecy.

First time: His mission was to die, in order to defeat death and hell for us.
Next time: His mission will be as follows, “I am the Living One: I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever!” and He will have the keys to death and hell IN HIS HAND.

First time: His mission was to walk this earth with His followers.
Next time: His mission is to ride the skies with His followers behind Him in a vast army.

Oh, and there is only one way to participate in His second mission:

Enlist for the first mission.

Rest and relaxation

For the Rest of Your Life…

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Matthew 6:10

I used to feel a little guilty pulling that one out. I mean, there are plenty of Christians who pull Bible verses out of context, just to get what they want! Don’t need more of them!

But isn’t it true that quite often, we moms just would love a nap? Yep. And when Mr. Sandman is beating you around the head and shoulders with his sandbag, Bible verses about rest just seem so true!

So, pull, I would. I remember the first time I realized Jesus was telling his men to take a nap. Arrgh! I never wanted to be part of any Bible story more than that one. Well, unless it was walking on water . . .

But even that would definitely have to be after a nap!

Then one day I realized something about that verse. I realized it is a command . . . and OH, MY! did it work on my sense of self-worth!

The way the story goes, Jesus called his men aside and told them to rest because they’d not even had time to eat.

Yet the questions always come: How!  And will they let you?

Can you relate?! I certainly can!

Those hectic days when everything piles on top of everything else are exactly when we need to remember the command is to back off.  Of course, we cannot leave little ones unsupervised while we take a nap, but it is possible to slip into a restful mode and feel How to Get an Amazing Rest from a Crazy Busy Daythe refreshing that can get us through ’til the end of the work day.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. R is for RETREAT. No one will take you seriously if you keep on puttering in the kitchen or shuffling papers. If you don’t quit, you will never get there! Find an easy chair or couch or even a bed and make it look like you mean business.
  2. E is for ENJOY. No fair feeling guilty! Besides, a guilt trip is not restful. Tell yourself you need this and so do they. Smile and close your eyes. Sip a favorite drink. Get to another place in your imagination, if only for a few minutes.
  3. S is for SET A TIMER. Your appointment with rest is important. Make it a good fifteen minutes and make it inviolable time, too. Turn the phone off, give interrupters that blank look, and hush anyone who forgets this is your set time. The timer also assures you won’t over-do it.
  4. T is for THANKFUL. Tell your heart this is a God thing. Every minute is worth cherishing. That lovely feeling of having rested will take you through the rest of the day and even prolong the rest of your life. This is so good; love it for what it is worth.

It may not seem do-able, but you can do it.

Even taking a few moments out, just closing a door for one or two minutes, can make a difference in how we perceive things and how we respond.

It’s a command . . . Okay to obey!

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

A Week of Answers – Counting Blessings

Dear Katharine,

I have such a problem with my goals wandering, and with thinking that others have it easier than I do. When I look around me, I see all sorts of boosters–IN OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES! Mine, though, looks jumbled and behind schedule and difficult, to me. How can I be sure or even know if I need to make some changes?  –Alissa

Dear Alissa,

It is easy.

First, make a list of everything that is going well, going okay, going not too bad, not as bad as it used to be, or not as bad as it could be, for you, lately.

I mean, look at your house: are the floors easy to clean? List that. Then look at your car: are the brakes decent for a change? List that, too. How about clothing: do all your boys have jeans that are long enough? List it. Try curriculum: is yours making school easier? List it. Go on to list one good thing about your schedule, your meals, your field trips, your P.E., your quiet time, and your day.

Then imagine that these things were actually happening to others, around you.

Imagine that Sue has easy clean floors, Sally has a car in good repair, Sylvia has decent jeans for all her kids, Sarah has a great curriculum, Sandy has begun having quiet time, and so forth. Wouldn’t that make you feel like they had some sort of better home school?

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.What you will see is plenty of reasons to think that the grass in greener on YOUR side of the fence, too., and that others could easily fall down the same slippery slope that you have, if they were looking at you and doubting themselves.

Whatever is going right, look to the Lord, not others, and count your blessings! Do this exercise every time you feel inadequate and it should help.

Then remember this little true story: A mom used to feel guilty about seeming to get the ironing done just at the last moment for someone to wear it, barely squeaking it in at the nick of time. However, one day her son had to write, in one sentence, a definition of happiness and he answered: “Happiness is a warm shirt in the morning.”

You see, children naturally love their own home, whatever that means, so smile and RELAX!

The important thing is fulfilling the command to teach your children, right? God will bless that. And if something is truly missing from your life, the above exercise will probably bring it to light.

Katharine

woman, sleeping, tired, lazy, depressed

A Week of Answers – Why Am I So Tired?

This week we are studying from the questions of others, what to do, how to do it, and why. Hope you enjoy this series and learn lots from it. This second letter is from a mother of three, ages five to ten, and asks a very good question. Enjoy!

Taking a break on Bond

Taking a break on Bond (Photo credit: pamhule)

Dear Katharine,

I’m so tired and cannot even say why. I can remember when I used to do so much more and now I hardly can get out of bed. It’s odd because I’m not so tired in the middle of the night. Anyway, I just wonder if there’s some trick to being all the things a home school mom needs to be, and keeping at it. I mean, am I forgetting something?  –Shelly

Dear Shelly,

Maybe you are overlooking something. It is easy for us to become caught up in the bustle and not realize we are adopting different habits. Let’s honestly look at your life a moment and ask a few questions, okay?

  1. Do you read your Bible, daily, and pray? I always slip away from good attitudes when I slip away from the Author of all goodness. We cannot expect to succeed if we break the rules about keeping in contact with the Lord. Are you forgetting to rejoice in the Lord? It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength.
  2. Do you ever get a break? Nearly everyone else gets breaks, you know. People take vacations from their jobs all the time and return very refreshed.
    Of course, you cannot just abandon your children and husband for a week, but you can abandon the thoughts and cares for a few minutes and take little imaginary mini-vacations while you read or bathe.
    By the way, are you doing too many things? Do we really need to provide dance, music, art, sports, and oratory lessons for each child, for each semester and attend each meeting and field trip? Is that why we do this? Are you ever at home, as in home school? Maybe you are running yourself ragged.
  3. Do you take care of your body? When moms forget to take vitamins, take a walk, take a nap, or take time off from caffeine, they usually are tired, whether they homeschool or not. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should be good stewards of it.

There you have it–questions that cover all three aspects of the whole of a person: spirit, soul, and body. You should now realize a few changes you need to make. 🙂

If all the above does not apply, I would like to ask you if you might be either ill or depressed.

Sometimes illness can masquerade as tiredness and sometimes depression can hit us from the side very unexplainably. If your tiredness does not fall into any of the three categories above, you may need help from a professional.

I am a professional mom, but I may not be the professional that you need. You may need a doctor or a good, Christian, pastoral counselor. If you think that may be the case, I pray you not delay–you owe it to your children.

Love, Katharine

Yardwork done

A Week of Answers – Am I Called to Home School?

This week we are studying from the questions of others, what to do, how to do it, and why. Hope you enjoy this series and learn lots from it. This second letter is from a fairly new homeschooling mom with deep-core issues. Enjoy!

Homeschooled children in the kitchen

Homeschooled children in the kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Katharine,

I guess I’m the only one out here who doesn’t get it. When I go to support group meetings, I always hear moms talking about how God told them to home school, or something, and we didn’t do it that way. In my case, I just decided to try it last year, to see what all the excitement was about. So far, I’ve liked it, and here we are. Outside of relaxing a little, (who wouldn’t?) my two kids (ages seven and nine) don’t seem much different. Am I maybe not “called” to home school like these other mothers? Couldn’t God really want my kids to toughen up some, by being in the schools? Does home school really prepare all kids for every type of career?  –Mackenzie

Dear Mackenzie,

No. God does not want your children to toughen up in public.

Let’s talk about that first, because He may have been leading you more than you realize.

English: Oak Tree

Oak Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adults are like oak trees. A beautiful, tall, old oak tree is tough. If you run into one with your lawn mower, the tree wins. Right?

How does it get that way?

Simple: Oak trees get huge and tough by not being mowed over when they are young and tender.

Children are young and tender.

Children, in general, however, can be very cruel.

So can life.

It can feel a lot like a lawnmower.

For this reason, God put children into families, with parents to protect them, comfort them, and strengthen them. They actually obtain their toughness this way, in the home. They have to be taught how to be tough, and it is therefore the parents’ job to teach this toughening. How can you protect, comfort, and teach your children toughness when you are not with them!

Do you think their teachers will wrap them in their arms, cry with them and remind them that God sees and cares and can help them be tough? I think not; it is against the law, in the teachers’ imaginations.

That is why children relax, as yours did—and mine did—when they finally come home.

The curriculum:

Unless your children are very above normal in obedience and kindness, they will create opportunities for you to help them learn how to be oak trees.

Surely they swipe toys, neglect chores, sass, or maybe even resort to violence with each other, just as all kids are prone to do. Even the most well-behaved children got that way by being TAUGHT—NOT to steal, NOT to be lazy, NOT to rebel, and NOT to bonk brother on the head.

And those who miss this teaching grow up to steal, be lazy, rebel, and use violence. Hmm.

What else?

There is another type of toughness that has little to do with sin, though. This type will go out on a cold, rainy, November morning, and vote. It will volunteer for storm clean-up. It will take up the Bible-study leader’s slack if he has the flu.

This type does not occur on the playground, much.

In fact, this self-denying toughness is missing throughout this world. You can give your children the advantage of this type of toughness, though, which is the real preparation that everyone needs for every type of career out there.

It is great preparation even just for college.

Home schooled children succeed in college, more than children from any type of collective educational situations. Did you know?

And more…

Your other question, about your calling, is harder. I cannot answer for your friends’ feelings or their communications from God.

Let’s just say that God has commanded us to teach our children all the time–when we sit, walk, lie down, and get up. (Deuteronomy 11:10) Sounds as if we need them at home, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds to me as if God assumed we would have them at home and does not always issue a special call for it.

Also, His command or assumption that we write and read (Habakkuk 2:2) makes it very important that we give our children the tools for those activities, and it just does not always happen in the collective schools.

The risk of our children falling away from all the good things is too enormous. We should keep them where they will not be mowed down, and where they will be watered, nourished, and trained to grow straight and tall.

Given time, they will toughen just fine.

And they will not grow up to be lawnmowers.

Love,

Katharine

A Week of Answers – My Son Is not Reading

Brothers sharing bookThis week we will study from the questions of others, what to do, how to do it, and why. Hope you enjoy this and learn lots from it. The first letter is from a woman who was so scared, she set up a new email account so she could be anonymous. I’ll call her “Jane”.

Dear Katharine,

My oldest son is smart but is still not reading and we have home schooled him for three years, now, making him eight. I am so scared. I have used phonics, daily, and he seems to like it, but he often just doesn’t get it. What am I doing wrong? Have I ruined him? I cannot even bear to think what the schools will say if I send him back there, but I truly do not know what to do, and cannot let him grow up not reading. He reads so slowly and so incorrectly, that it just kills me to listen to it. I hardly dare confess this to anyone, even anonymously like this. HELP! –Jane

Dear Jane,

No you have not ruined him. You probably are teaching correctly, especially since you are using an accepted curriculum, are consistent, and you say he does enjoy it and does actually read, however poorly.

Some children just are slower, for one reason or another, independent of their setting.

Before I answer your questions, I would like to tell you what the schools would have done with your child, okay?

How it would have gone:

First, they would have put him in a reading group with all slow, low-skilled readers, so the “bright” children would not have had to bear the frustration that you are expressing. The results would have been that he would not have been around good reading, ever.

Also they would have instituted some sort of classroom reading competition, in which your son either would not have been expected to compete, or else just would never have had a chance. He and his reading-group friends would have been grouped together for other activities, too, just for convenience’s sake. (You know, the redbirds, the bluebirds, the robins, and the wrens, with the bird species becoming less flashy as the reading skills become less flashy.)Many in his group would have expressed feelings of inferiority about themselves and their group.

Eventually he might have been placed outside the classroom for a few hours a week, to receive special education. This may or may not have been conducted by a learning specialist of any kind–possibly by a substitute teacher or a volunteer–and may not necessarily have been very educational. After all this isolation, he and all his classmates would have begun to get the picture.

Are you beginning to get the picture?

What to do?!

Children who are slow to learn to read, possibly above all others, need to have the chance to exit the collective educational systems. Your son needs individual attention, and believe me, that is impossible in a public setting. If the teacher were able to give him what he needed, she might be of the sweet type who would want to do so, but she simply cannot, because she is in charge of twenty or so individuals who all have needs.

One thing I would suggest, that you are not doing wrong, but maybe have not known to do (and that your son never would receive in a public setting) is that you work on his vision.

  1. Have his eyes professionally examined.
  2. Eliminate fluorescent lighting, at least in his work room. This goes for all “screen lighting”, too, as comes from a computer or TV.
  3. Let him use a white bookmark to underline his reading.
  4. Obtain for your son colored cellophane page covers from a teacher supply store, to see if a different color helps.
  5. Make sure he is receiving excellent nutrition and low amounts of all sugars; no junk food whatsoever, and plenty of outdoor exercise
  6. Nix television and electronic games.

All these little changes possibly can add up to big improvements.

Also, you need to be aware that many children are not ready to learn reading until they are ten, and some after they are nearly grown. (President Andrew Johnson‘s wife taught him to read.) If this is the case with your son, he certainly does not need to be in a collective educational system. He may be the next Edison or Einstein, who both had trouble with traditional schoolwork, and both skipped “school”, learning at home.

You have done your son an immense favor by helping him to escape the isolation and embarrassment that are inherent to those in his situation. Do not stop. Just be patient until he begins to catch on more. Read to him a lot, and let him watch you point at the copy while you read. Especially read his other subjects to him, so he can learn them. Play word games with him, such as hangman or Jr. Scrabble, and get him a simple word-search book. Find an easy story that he likes a lot and read it together, daily. Help him memorize many passages from the Bible, plus some from historical documents, such as the Constitution. Please, also continue with the phonics; there are phonics courses for every age, to adult.

Help him discover and push him into his area of high skill, which may not be a “school” subject, but something more like Edison or Einstein did.

Perhaps it would help you to hear this: One of my older son’s best homeschool friends does not read or spell very well, is beginning a college major in computers, and loves to play word games, of all things. He does well, holding down a job, refereeing soccer, driving, and everything else a young man hopes to do. The important thing, though to his mother, and to you, is that he is a well-rounded gentleman with many moral friends, is of great accountability, is trusted with important adult-level responsibilities, and is not on drugs. He will be fine.

Home schooling did this.

Do not give up. Do not fear. Do not despair. Do not faint.

In due season, you will reap!

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