Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Steady Progress

As I sit typing this, the Doctor is practicing her violin, as she has done every weekday for the past eight and one half years. As she is practicing, I am reflecting on the changes brought about in her musical abilities and understanding. She has come so far, both as a human being (she has been playing for almost three quarters of her life at this point!) and as a musician.

She does not practice willingly, but as her father and I believe that it is good for her, for all three of them, to study music, she practices. I have explained the benefits to her, but she is still a child who frequently wants her way... such is childhood. Being an obedient sort, though, she does practice. And she is actually quite good. I say this, not as a proud mother, but as a fellow musician and teacher of musicians. She will never be a concert violinist, and she has no desire to be. But she has an excellent ear and a quick mathematical mind, which gives her quite an advantage.

But I digress.

I can hear the differences in her playing, but I am not as sure she can. I know she realizes how much more she knows in terms of pieces and techniques, scales, arpeggios, and the like, but I don't know if she knows how much she's truly grown as a musician.

And I wonder... is this how God sees us? Does He look at us, look at how long we've been "practicing" Christianity (in the form of walking with Him in relationship), and see how much we've grown? Does He take Godly pride in how far we've come? Does He, while seeing our mistakes, still smile at how those mistakes have changed over the years? What would He tell us about our walk with Him if we could audibly hear Him? If we could sit down with Him for a few hours a week like Adam and Eve could do while they were still in Eden? What woud He say? I know there would be correction, but I'm pretty sure there would be encouragement as well (given that we are commanded to encourage others in the Bible is several places).

We realize how much we've learned, I think, in terms of Bible study, preaching, about His character. But do we realize how far we've come as Christians? Or do we see only the mistakes? Do we only "hear" the wrong notes? The out of tune ones? How much of our time do we spend on reliving the missteps, the sinful behaviors, words, and thoughts, verses how much time do we spend thanking God for how far He's brought us? Because, ultimately, we cannot do this on our own. Our holiness comes only from God alone. Anything of Him that is evident in us is only because He is working. How much do we acknowledge His work, praise Him for His work, and ask Him to continue? In my life, I'll admit, not much. I see so much of how I fail, how I am wrong and sinful. And when I do realize that I'm not the same as I was before, my pride rears up and wants to take credit. But I can't. And I would be much farther along if I would trust God more consistently, more fully, and more daily.

I just wonder as a parent sometimes, "Is this how God feels?" Today was one of those days.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Heart Problems

Two women show up for church, dressed essentially identically: mid-calf length dresses with a "modest" neckline, hose, and low-heeled pumps.  Hair is neatly done, make-up well-applied but not obvious.  If you were to see these women on a daily basis, you'd probably see variations on the theme, pants some days, sneakers maybe, but nothing that anyone would find particularly immodest.

But their hearts are in two different places -- one, with a heart to worshipping God, and not setting a stumbling block for her brothers and sisters in Christ; the other with a heart to show off just how "modest" she is.  The first has a thriving relationship with Christ, and her wardrobe, lifestyle choices, and daily life reflects that.  The second has a list of rules that she tries very hard to live by, maybe she's a Christian, maybe she just tries to look like one.

Here's the thing -- everything we do is to be done with our heart.  Modesty isn't about how we dress.  Modesty is about not drawing undue attention to ourselves.  Does this impact our clothing choices? It should.  Does it impact whether or not we audition for the solo at church?  It should.

If our heart is not in truly glorifying God, then anything we do is truly just self-glory. It is idol worship, and the idol is ME.

At the heart of it all is the heart. Where is my heart? To Whom (or whom) does it belong?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Even Homeschooled Kids are Sinners

We homeschool. I love it. I firmly believe in it as a good, viable, legal, moral, and Godly option for education. I will not argue that it's the ONLY good, viable, legal, moral, and Godly option, though. So you're in the wrong place if you want that.

Here's something you don't often see homeschoolers publically admitting, though. Homeschooled kids are still sinners. Keeping them away from the public school setting, with all its temptations and ungodly influences and worldly curriculum doesn't change that children still love the world and the things of the world. It doesn't change their rebellious hearts. Only God can do that, through His Holy Spirit. Let that sink in - Only God can do that, through His Holy Spirit. My kids, until the point of repentance and regeneration are unregenerate sinners bound for an eternity in hell. Homeschooling won't save them.

What I fear homeschooling may do, if I am not very careful, is create highly moral sinners. Ones with a false sense of eternal security. That's a fearful thing to have. It's what all those cults promise.

Homeschooling can be a bed of self-righteous Pharisee-ism if I am not careful. It can, in fact, hinder them from coming to a true saving relationship with Christ. Honestly, it would be better for me to put them in the public schools than to get in the way of their true eternal salvation.

As with anything, much prayer is needed to avoid the pitfalls of legalism.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Question to Ponder

With last Sunday being Mother's Day, and Saturday being Birth Mother's Day, I began to ponder a few things. One of which is this:
One of the big justifications I hear for having an abortion is "I could never just GIVE UP my baby to someone else!" in a horrified manner. My question is this - how is having your baby murdered any better than giving them up for someone else to love? What makes this option more palatable to so many young women? How have we as a society made it that way? What are we failing to teach or believe that leads young women to this conclusion?
OK, that's more than one question, but it's all related. I have no answers for any of those questions, but I think it's well worth pondering. And maybe making some changes.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

These are a Few of my Favorite Things

I love homeschooling. I cannot imagine education any other way, really. Even though my siblings and I went to public school, in many ways we were homeschooled. My parents, especially my mother, had a heart for teaching her children.

Here's a list of a few of my favorite things about homeschooling:

1. The relationships. My kids' primary relationships are in our family. Their sibling relationships are strong. As are our relationships as parents with them. There aren't other adults intentionally getting in the way, trying to make us look foolish and destroy that relationship.

2. Watching them learn. I love it when one of the girls comes up against a really tough concept in math, or science, or music and works hard and then finally the lightbulb comes on. They get so excited, and get excited for each other. I love it.

3. Unbound curiosity. Unbound, in that it is not squashed by a curriculum that "must" be gotten through. If my oldest wants to camp out on abnormal physiology for six months, while my youngest studies the gross anatomy of a cat, they can. No one is telling them that they "must move on, because curriculum."

4. Limitless curiosity. This is different. Their curiosity has no end. I truly believe that this is how childhood in general should be spent - asking questions, and seeking answers. By experimentation, by research, by finding a person who can explain. Finding the answers to those questions, then asking new questions brought about because of those answers. This is education. This is learning.

5. Deeper talks. The girls and I talk about a great many things. We discuss socialism and why it has always failed, the gift of pain, government, self-government, right and wrong, and many other topics. Sometimes deeply, sometimes on a surface level. But their questions are big and deep. And they THINK. Kids like to think, when we don't tell them what all the "right" answers are.

6. Time together. Honestly, you cannot get quality time without quantity time. You cannot trust someone you do not know. You cannot know someone without spending time together. Limited "quality time" is a myth. It just does not exist.

7. I know what is going into them. I know what they are learning. I know because I chose the curriculum. I know because I am their primary teacher. I can tailor what they are learning to their individual maturity level and our family's worldview because that's what is best for them.

8. Routine. They are part of my routine. School breaks are nothing to dread for me, because the girls are already a vital part of my everyday routines. They are not a nuisance, but a help.

9. Slower pace. We intentionally keep a slower pace. I believe that unstructured time is best for children. It allows them to play, to run, to explore. If all their time is spent running from one place to another, going from sitting in a desk to sitting in a car to sitting at the table to do homework, they are hindered in their development. And we do not yet know how that hindrance will impact them in adulthood.

10. Flexibility. We can schedule trips around life. School doesn't become an albatross preventing us from doing things with others that we'd really love to do.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Summer Writing

I love words. I love reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I love the connection with people. I love ideas, big sweeping ideas. And I love to write and talk about ideas.

With that in mind, I have challenged myself to write every week day this summer. Sometimes, that will be on here. Sometimes, that will be for my own journal, or a story I'm writing. (I keep telling myself I'm going to finish a novel if it kills me. So far, it hasn't happened.) Sometimes, it will be a note for someone else. But my challenge is to write every week day. We'll see how it goes.

That's why I'm writing this now -- to fulfill my self-imposed challenge. This will be today's writing, but normally I'll go for something more creative or expressive. But for now, this challenge is out there, and now it's "real".

Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" (part 2)

In part 1, I discussed the fact that we are not loving people well when we accept the sin...  (The TRUTH part of speaking the truth in love.)

Now I want to discuss the LOVING part of speaking the truth in love.  Otherwise, we're just Westboro "Baptist Church".  (I put those last two in quotes on purpose.  They are not a real church.)

We must be careful when we confront someone, or let someone know that something is a sin.

I find this a pretty simple procedure for me (even though I don't always follow it!)  The question is -- "How do I react when someone disagrees with me on this?"  If I am loving them, a decision to continue in sin will break my heart and drive me to prayer.  If I am simply being driven out of a desire to "be right," I will get angry.  All too often, I am speaking out of a desire to be right.

Am I gloating over how "wrong" the person is, how "holy" I am?  Am I behaving like the Pharisee in Luke 18:10-14?  If so, I need to work this out FIRST, through prayer and repentance. 

Will I rejoice at their repentance because it restores (or brings them into) a relationship with God?  If so, then I can go ahead.

Also, I need to ask why the person should listen to me?  Have they seen my fruit?  Do I actually know them well enough?  Have I disqualified myself from speaking because of an unresolved wrong I have done to them?  All too often, we leave a comment on a FB post or a website that actually causes more harm than good.  Because our tone cannot be read, all too often, our comment is taken in the worst way imaginable.  We live in a world, in a society, that wants to see Christians in the worst light possible.  We must be careful not to malign the name of Christ.  Does this mean that we don't speak up, to stand for Christ?  NOT AT ALL!  I'm just saying to pray, check with God before you type, or speak.  Check your motivation.  Pray.  Pray before, pray during, and pray after.  And leave the results to God.