Your Name Here
Remembering names is not my gifting. I want to remember—really I do—but I’m not very good at it. I’m better with faces. Although I don’t like name tags, I need them. If we’ve met, and we see each other again, I’m hoping that grace will prevail. I will reintroduce myself and maybe we can share a laugh!
But God knows each of us intimately. Scripture talks about Him knowing the number of hairs on our heads. Perhaps more profoundly, He knows our thoughts, even our days. Those are things that I don’t even know about me.
My hair isn’t as thick as it once was, but I don’t know the exact number of lost locks. My thoughts often seem scattered and unfocused. And my days? Those are crazy (most of them)—not necessarily in a bad way, but full. And while I’m a planner, I rarely remember what I had for dinner yesterday. I’m glad God knows those things, but they seem impossible for me to know.
It’s the fact that He knows my name. This blows me away. And I think it is so wonderful. My name. Mine. The name my parents gave to me. The one my husband whispers, the one my friends call, the one my kids repeat. I’m not a number to God. You’re not a number. He doesn’t ever forget my name or yours. You are you, by name. I am me, by name.
It must have been startling for little Samuel to realize that God was calling his name, not Eli. God was saying, “Samuel, Samuel!” God’s voice, not just the priest’s. While Samuel listened to and obeyed Eli, while he wanted to be attentive, the sound of his name spoken by the Almighty had to be a powerful moment.
And what about Saul on the road to Damascus? Talk about a crossroads. Saul, passionate about upholding the Law and the traditions, led the charge in persecuting the Christians. He went door to door. He was actively imprisoning men and women. He stood in direct opposition to Jesus.
Then as he was on the road with his companions, set on finding more believers and punishing them. Jesus spoke to him from a bright light, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul was literally blinded by the light. Jesus called him out and gave him a new name, Paul.
The calling of the disciples is a part of the story that we often read as if it isn’t significant or substantial. Wait just a minute. Jesus called these men by name, and they followed Him without question or discussion leaving their work behind them.
Might there have been something different about the authority with which He said their names? Did He exude the qualities of a leader that drew them to His side: confidence, direction, charisma? If we could ask them, I would bet they would say they couldn’t quite put their finger on it, but there was something in the way He looked them in the eye when He offered the invitation by name with the words, “Follow Me.”
Jesus called Mary and Martha by name. This happened on two very different occasions, and in both instances He did so with gentleness and compassion. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, “ when she had become frustrated with her sister about helping her in the kitchen. Mary seems blind to all that needed to be done and was just sitting and listening to Jesus.
Jesus wasn’t calling Martha out. He didn’t seek to embarrass her. He wasn’t intent on making her feel bad. No. Jesus softly spoke her name. He wanted her full attention. I’m sure He looked her in the eye. “Martha, Martha.” Jesus wanted Martha to listen to Him, not be distracted by what wasn’t being done around the house.
God knows your name. And He whispers in a thousand different ways. It’s in the wind of a storm, the quiet breeze at the beach. You can hear it when the birds sing or the soft rain falls. Sometimes your name is clear in your heart. And every time you hear it, lean in and listen. He knows your name.
On Mission In Kenya
It’s actually happening. I’m actually in Kenya on a mission trip with my daughter Molly. It didn’t get to happen last summer, which was a story in its own right. So naturally there was a little concern that the enemy would try and find a way to steal, kill, or destroy the dream this year. Praise be to God, we are here.
The time to travel here took 40 hours worth of clock time. We left the house early Thursday morning to meet the team at the Charlotte airport. A flight to Cincinnati was followed by a 6-hour lay-over. Then a long 8-hour flight across the pond to Paris, a relatively short lay-over, and one more long 8-hour flight to Nairobi. After making our way through customs, we still had a long, bumpy, and dusty ride through the middle of nowhere to Bomet, the location of Tenwek hospital where we will serve this week.
As my kids were growing up, I read many biographies of missionaries. The stories were typically amazing and heroic. I honestly can’t imagine the kind of travel they had to endure. They would be on the open seas for three or more months, watch people die along the way (sometimes their own loved ones), then hike for miles in strange new lands, persevere through personal illness, and eventually find a humble dwelling to call home. That’s the kind of sacrifice that makes our “long” travel time seem like a walk in the park. I guess I better count my many blessings.
Thank you in advance for your prayers on our behalf. There is real work to be done here in Bomet at the Tenwek hospital. Death is a common occurrence here. They simply don’t have the basics that we take for granted—things like soap and clean water for example. The OB/GYN doctors deliver many stillborn babies because the mother never had any kind of pre-natal care. This makes work in the labor and delivery section of the hospital a little more sobering and less joyous compared to a similar wing in the USA. However, the heart and mission of this hospital and the people serving here is beautiful. I’m sure we will help with a wide variety of health issues. I can’t wait to tell you the details when we return.
Yes, we will get to go on safari while we are here. I’ve been before, and you never can tell what a day will hold. I can tell you this much—it isn’t like a visit to the zoo in America. There are no fences, no separation pits, no zookeepers keeping close watch. This is nature at its wildest and most unpredictable.
I spent a few years of my own childhood in South Africa, so my heart goes out to this land. I love this country. I love this continent, and I hope and pray we can make a difference in the physical and spiritual health of the people we meet and serve this week. Thanks for joining us in prayer. Ask the Father of all Creation to do a marvelous work, to show Himself strong and mighty, and to let His love and grace and truth be known far and wide in Africa, Kenya, Nairobi, and Bomet.
Where Does a Homeschool Mom Go To Cry?
From The Middle of 24 Months of Unemployment
That last year has been the most difficult of my life. There had been so many losses, so many hurts, so many broken promises, so many dreams interrupted. 2007 is not a year that I will miss, though I am glad it is over, the fall out lingered and the storm had not passed yet when I wrote this. So many times that last year I had been overcome with emotion that is not characteristic for me, waves of grief had assaulted me as I tried to stand strong in the storm around me. This is from that time – the middle of 24 months of unemployment.
There have been blessings also. My marriage to Davis though severely tested, has been strengthened the hard way. The kids are great, healthy and growing strong. God met our every need in the stormy trial of the last year through friends and my family. He sustained us in what can only be described as a fiery trial.
Through it all, this roller coaster ride that has taken my breath away and shaken me to my very foundation of belief. I have had seven pairs of eyes watching, 24-7-365. See, because we homeschool, I have not had the luxury of waving to them as they headed off to school each day. I’ve not had an escape or a break or a breather, our situation did not allow for that. Every morning I awoke with a rush of realization of the enormity of our situation and our lack of control in it. We were just going to have to wait on Him, trust Him and depend on Him.
My kids watched as people, sometimes strangers to us personally, brought food to our house. They found anonymous donations in our mailbox or on our front porch. They saw me thank person after person after person who gave to us what we could not get ourselves. They saw the hand of God in these servants of the Most High.
One day a friend came with groceries, a bunch of them. As she and her children brought in load after load I was overcome, some of the items she brought were on my list in the pantry that no one knew about but God. I had to excuse myself. I went out to the steps and just sat down and sobbed. He knew, He cared, and He provided.
On a funny note, everyone who has brought us food has brought us chocolate. Chocolate M&Ms, brownie mix, chocolate Teddy Grahams, chocolate chip cookies. Clearly word had gotten out that I like my chocolate – my pantry was full as so was my heart.
The employment deal we were working on took many unpredictable turns. At first I tried to hide my tears from the kids, but as the time passed I couldn’t and I stopped trying. It was then that I realized that there was value in their seeing my tears. Their mom who they were used to seeing laugh, wasn’t laughing anymore.
I woke up just about every day with a start. Every morning the first thought in my mind was, Oh no, it wasn’t just a nightmare. It’s reality. I would have to make myself breath as my mind started racing through all of the challenges, unanswered questions, and bills. All of those still lingered. The silence lingered. It was stifling, oppressive.
My emotions started breaking through in the simple innocent questions from my kids. Questions like, “Can we get some Goldfish crackers? I miss them.” Or, “Could I play soccer?” or “It’s hot. Could we get some ice cream.” The unemployed answer was a solid no on all accounts. I knew why. I understood, but how to explain it to the little eyes?
What do you tell them so they comprehend but aren’t stressed? My words failed me. Fact was there wasn’t a explanation. I didn’t understand, how could I help them. My tears told them what I couldn’t. My raw emotion said what I didn’t know how to say. Some said that I needed to hold it together for the kids, that I needed to shield them from it all. I did for a while, but then the dam broke and the tears spilled over.
Challenge: Write a Letter
Back in the day, before email, before texting or Facebook or Twitter.
Back before there were blogs or the Internet or digital anything, people wrote letters.
In my opinion it was a glorious time.
Back then, people took the time – the time – to sit down and write letters, often very long letters, to one another.
Not all of them were love letters, some were merely letters between family members who were separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles, time zones, oceans or continents. They were filled with news that would be old by the time it was read, but news just the same. They were filled with encouragement and dreams and hopes.
But people don’t write those kinds of letters anymore. In fact people don’t write letters at all anymore. It seems that we have settled for practically meaningless, punctuation-less, abbreviated and often flippant texts or emails instead. It’s the new, innovative, modern method of communication.
In our rush to get to the next thing we miss the value of investing in others. Letters were treasured, bundled, guarded. Read and reread. Cherished. They were physical evidence of love and endearment. They documented trials, challenges, struggles and victories. Men wrote home from war, missionaries from foreign lands, daughters to mothers separated for the first time.
There’s nothing like getting a letter or a note. Often I will read and reread them. I have a file full of letter and notes of encouragement I have received over the years. In moments when I wonder about this homeschooling journey I pull out a note from one of the kids, written in crayon, in all of its beautiful crookedness, misspellings not withstanding: “your the besth mom evur!”
Now having launched three of my kids and being a mother-in-law to boot, I’m resolved to write more. Sure we email and text and that’s fine and good. But I want to take time to send along something more, something lasting, something worth reading and rereading.
I’m grateful God gave us His love letter, the Bible. I’m glad it wasn’t just a text or an email, but that He inspired over 40 men over 1600 years with the message of His love for His people, His glorious plan of salvation, of His grace available to all who would receive Him as Lord.
Why not take time today to write a note or a letter. Why not push the pause button on the craziness of it all, pour a cup of tea, and steal away to invest in someone else. By doing so, we receive the blessing of encouraging someone else, knowing we will brighten their day. The possibilities are endless, your pastor, a friend, your son or daughter, your husband, a neighbor, your parents, if you’re blessed to still have them here, your grandparents. Whose mailbox might your note brighten?
Blow the dust off our address books.
Find a notecard or make one – nothing fancy, just paper and an envelope.
Scrounge around in our desks and find a stamp.
Get a pen and share our hearts.
Seal up our thoughtfulness with a smile.
Walk it to the mailbox.
Know that someone is going to get a little unexpected sunshine, Special Delivery!
“The generous will prosper;
Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
(As I’m planning our school studies for the year I am going to be focusing on this special ministry of letter writing with my kids. Why not join us?)
Waiting And Resting
Pages From My Journal
As you continue to work out the kinks in the plan you had for this homeschool year, would you like to hear a story of God’s faithfulness? Would you like to know how this homeschool mother is finally resting after years of waiting while you figure out what you need to do to amuse your toddler? I’d love to tell you about it as you are in the middle of potty-training your three-year old, getting your laundry done, preparing your grocery shopping list, or cleaning up after a rough start to the day.
Would you like a word of encouragement from someone who vividly remembers homeschool life back when I had kids in diapers and young ones who didn’t sleep through the night? Would you like to know that what you are doing is not in vain, not insignificant, not unnoticed? Would you like a little reassurance that God knows your concerns, that He hears your prayers, that He cares, and — get this one — He is working on your behalf. Even now, even today, even though your voice seems to be bouncing back in an echo chamber, even though progress seems minuscule — God is working!
Do you feel like the only evidence you have to show for your daily progress on this path is weary footprints in the dust? If this is you, or someone you know, read on. Let me tell you a true story of how God has encouraged me.
This last March, Davis and I traveled to New York City to visit The King’s College with our oldest son Charles. Boy, I never could have predicted this one. New York City? Really?
The college was hosting a special weekend for interested students and their parents. Davis and I arrived separately from Charles as he was flying in from Atlanta where he had classes at Impact 360 (his gap-year program). Davis and I landed at the airport, took a taxi and settled into an extraordinarily small hotel room.
When Charles joined us, we were all excited about our weekend together. We headed on foot from our hotel to the Empire State Building where King’s has its offices, student center, and classrooms. The students and faculty greeted us warmly and offered coffee and muffins. The air held an anxious anticipation for the would-be students. After all, this is New York City.
We proceeded to enjoy a “campus” tour (The King’s College considers New York City its campus since the students dorms, some classes, and the internships are spread across the city) which included different locations in the Empire State Building and across the street where the professors have their offices. After a New York style pizza for lunch, we had the opportunity to listen to faculty members and professors. Charles was completely focused, intrigued, and introspective. The goals and objectives of the college (as stated by an executive staff member) took my breath away as I had always hoped and dreamed that these options would one day be available for Charles.
After going through their agenda, the panel took some audience questions. One person asked about the history of the college. The answer included an explanation that it had started in 1938, but had run into problems in the mid 1990’s and closed the doors for four years. In 1999, the college re-birthed itself when a group of dedicated men (including Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ) gave leadership, focus, and renewed purpose to the school.
My mind started racing. Did he say all this happened just over ten years ago? Really? Is that what he said? Oh dear heavenly Father, You did hear my cries.
My eyes filled with tears. I wasn’t listening to the speaker. His voice now muffled, and distant. I sat really still trying to control my emotions. The tears ran down my cheeks; Davis took my hand, not understanding, yet showing support. Why wasn’t there a tissue in my purse?
Ten years ago.
The memories came easily and vividly, but not gently. That time was not just a blip on the screen or a bump in the road. No, that was a really tough time when my homeschool journey was filed with loads of self-doubt. Many of the old insecurities resurfaced. That was the year defeat and discouragement lurked about stalking me every day.
Charles was in pre-adolescence, a time when his body was being charged with hormones. This displayed itself with feelings ranging from anger and frustration swinging all the way over to elation and joy — often within moments of each other. His reading skills had only recently taken off and so did his questions, his intensity, and his abstract thinking. All this change caught me off guard. I expected this down the road and with my daughters, but I thought I had a few more years until these battles set in. Unfortunately, there was no denying – we were well into it.
In the middle of all this, Charles was struggling with some focus issues, which were affecting his schoolwork. I fought against the “testing” option. I thought I could teach and pray and love him through it. But that year, nothing seemed to be working. He seemed to need major intervention. Maybe private school was the answer; maybe this was the end of the homeschool road.
And so I prayed
I prayed that Charles would hear from God and grow in confidence, that the Lord would become real to him, and finally that God would prepare a place especially for Charles. As his mother, I had come to realize that it was going to need to be a very special place, where our goals, values, and vision for our son, our precious Charles, would be supported, where he could soar, where he could grow, where he could lead, where he would be prepared for God’s will and plan for his life.
We are now in our 15th year of homeschooling. I still stand by my characterization of this homeschooling lifestyle as the adventure of a lifetime. God knew that I enjoy the breath-taking rides offered by roller coasters, and my life’s journey has been nothing short of exhilarating.
Sitting there in a meeting room of the Empire State Building, I felt God’s peace. He had answered my prayers. Jesus told his disciples that He goes to prepare a place for us. He does the same thing for His children here.
As a homeschool mom I have missed many opportunities. Many things have gone untaught. We haven’t even gone to the library as regularly as most families do. We have missed some good field trips, and for what it’s worth, our annual test scores are pretty average. But this I know, God has given everyone of us opportunity after opportunity to see His hand, to experience answered prayer, to enjoy His provision, to rest in His plan, to trust Him beyond our understanding, and to rest in His providence.
When I speak, I regularly advocate for God’s providence and His sovereignty. I believe, but I must confess, I didn’t know what it meant to rest in His plans until that moment. During Charles’ senior year I wasted many a night worrying about where he would go and what he would do.
In that moment as I felt God’s peace wash over me it was as if He was saying, “I’ve got Charles. I heard your prayers all those years ago. I already know it is New York City, but do you trust me? I do have amazing plans for Charles. You persevered and obeyed. Though imperfectly, you trusted Me though tears and even doubt. And you recognized that Charles is really mine. I’d like you to do something now that you haven’t done in a while: take a deep breath and let him go. Let him come here to New York City, to The King’s College. I have some people that can continue what you and Davis started. I know it is a risky proposition, but that is why it is called faith. You can breath now. I have proven Myself faithful. I have answered your prayers. Now rest in my peace.”
So, as crazy as it might seem, Charles is at The King’s College in New York City. He lives 1.5 miles from campus and rides the subway regularly, which he has already mastered. And he is thriving. God has met my son in New York City for a kind of divine appointment. God even threw in some scholarships to boot. His grace truly amazes me.
Charles turned 20 years old in 2010. Through this journey our hearts have been knitted together by the Master. I miss him, his energy, his enthusiasm, and even his intensity. I miss the debates over breakfast and the 11:00 pm knocks on our bedroom door, “Mom? Dad? You got a minute?” Yes, I miss that. Every morning I go into his room, turn on his bedside lamp and say a prayer. At night I reverse the ritual. I haven’t stopped praying or missing — I’ve just started resting!
Off to the Philippines!
Davis and I will be leaving on Tuesday, October 13 for Manila, returning on the following Tuesday. This will be our first time to the Philippines and we are excited about the ministry opportunity. You can see the press release and read about the conference, “Ready for the World” here.
Davis will be presenting on Friday, October 16, 2015: “I Believe in Homeschooling” and on Saturday, October 17, 2015: “Give Me One Good Reason to Homeschool”. I will also be presenting twice, on Friday, October 16, 2015: “How to Really Live” and on Saturday, October 17, 2015 I will be one of two keynotes presenting: “Teaching Foundational Truth”.
We would appreciate your prayers.
- Pray for travel mercies. We are facing a challenging travel itinerary. Please pray that we can get some sleep on the plane.
- Pray for our continued preparation for presentations. Pray that God will be glorified through us, that we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
- Pray that we will have eyes to see and ears to hear what God would like to show us and teach us. Pray that we would be able to focus on each person.
- Pray that parents would be encouraged and challenged. Pray that those who attend will come with teachable hearts, seeking God.
Thanks in advance for your prayers. By praying for us you will be blessed and you will be a blessing to your brothers and sisters in the Philippines. I will be telling them that my friends back home are praying for them. I know that they will be encouraged that you care enough to intercede for them.
Children need rest. Moms need rest. These are facts, which are often ignored. When the need for rest is consistently denied, crankiness and grumpiness can easily creep in for both mother and child. One of the most important disciplines that our family instituted was Wednesday afternoon nap day.
- This is a day and time that is dictated, not voted on. The day and time are clearly determined and established. The time may shift around some, but the day(s) is set in stone.
- Everyone chooses a place to be for the designed time period. They must gather books, drawing pads, or some other quiet activity to do. Nothing electronic is allowed; no movies or audio recordings are permitted.
- Everyone goes to the restroom before they lay down. Once they have laid down, they are to stay there until Mom (or some other designated person) comes and gets them up.
- Getting up and down throughout the ‘naptime’ is considered disobedience. They are not required to go to sleep, but they are required to rest and be quiet so that others can sleep or rest.
Join me on YouTube for Early On: Nature Journals
Are you starting this journey a little unwillingly? Do you feel like you don’t know where to start? Would you like to find a simple, yet engaging curriculum that doesn’t cost very much? Are you wanting something that you can use over and over with your kids (probably even with your grandkids) that they will love?
Join me on YouTube for Early On: 5 in a Row