Friday, February 28, 2014

New Community!


I've recently joined the moms over at Houston Moms Blog as a contributor. I'm excited to be a part of this diverse group of women: work-outside-of-the-home moms, stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms, moms of multiples, step-moms, adoptive moms, and everything in between! I know very well I did not cover all the mom flavors out there, but you get the idea.

So, today is my first post! Eeek!

I hope you'll click on over there and see where I'll be spending some time!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Talking to Kids about Human Trafficking

"We are in it to End It."
{Source: End It}
The End It Movement campaign to raise awareness and end human trafficking has declared February 27 a day to "Shine a Light on Slavery". Depending on the circles you run in, you may notice some red X's on hands and plastered all over social media. These are people declaring to no longer be a light in the darkest of darkness.
Launched by Louie Giglio and Passion in 2012, End It has garnered attention from 
mainstream media to Carrie Underwood to the White House.

If you're reading this blog, you are likely aware of many of the facts: 
~More slaves in the world today than any other time in history. 27 million plus.
~Slavery is prevalent in 161 countries across the globe.
~Estimated 14,000-17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each day.
~People are bought and sold for average of $90. 


No doubt this is a fantastic initiative and the fight for freedom is one I can not ignore. 
Nor do I want my girls to ignore it. 
How do we talk to our kids about slavery and 
darkness in the world without making them fearful? 
The key is hope. A solution. 

First, we define the issue in age appropriate terms. 
You know your child best, but you may say something like, 
"A person is a slave if another person thinks they own them like you own your toys. They think they are the boss over them and do not respect them." 
If your children are a little older, have them look up the definition of slave and slavery for themselves. Talk about how they would feel if they never got to make any choices on their own. 
Know what resonates with your child. If "good guy, bad guy" talk works well, do it. 
"There some bad guys in the world that think it's okay to make other 
people work for them and not pay them for it."
You don't need to specify the kind of work unless they ask, if they do, stick to labor if you are dealing with elementary or early middle school. 

Note: Understanding healthy sexual relationships is important before discussing unhealthy relationships.

Once you've made your child aware of slavery and that it still exists, that's not the end. 
This is the key to growing little crusaders in to grown-up crusaders!

Pray
Pray with all authority that has been given to you by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for justice and mercy and complete healing for the captives. Pray for "bad guys" to become "good guys". Pray for public officials, police, detectives, and for the many volunteer and non-profits, like Elijah Rising,  that are in the rescue business. Beyond this, when you see answered prayers in your daily life, from the tummy feeling better to the found blankie, give all glory to God and make sure your little one knows how sweet it is when God hears our prayers. When you hear of rescues, share them. 
Pray and thank God for freedom. Give them hope.

Recently, a place of known slavery (I don't like to use the brothel with my kids, although I know they know the word. It's just a thing.) was shut down about two miles from my house. So, I drove my girls by to show them this:
Don't you know when had a praise party!?
Do Something.
Praying is doing something. Absolutely.
Still, there are tangible ways to engage in the fight.
Let them get a put a red X on their hands. 
Write notes or Scripture cards to rescued victims, make cookies for them.
I was recently reminded how difficult a job the local vice cops have, and how they are in need of encouragement. They could use some notes of exhortation, too. Let your kids see you give financially to organizations fighting for freedom, locally and globally. Let them give, too. You never know how a child could be inspired to raise money. By empowering them to be a part of the solution, you are showing them they have a purpose in this world. Oh, the little world changers we have in our homes! 

Our children can certainly understand that whoever has been given much, much will be required. (Luke 12:48) We can be a part of freedom and healing and hope. All of us.

How do you talk to your kids about the hard stuff? The dark stuff? I'd love to hear it.

Love! Melissa


Thank you for reading and sharing on social media!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I Lived an "Alternative Lifestyle".

At twenty-three years old, Spouse and I had been married for three years.
We had already gone through the "stupid over-spending" phase and the
"two single people living in the same apartment" phase.
Thankfully, we made it through those rough years fairly unscathed.
Smiling.

We were both working, I was in school, and had been parenting a
fourteen year old boy for a year.
We were struggling to pay bills, going to parent-teacher conferences
and in leadership positions at church.

By NBC Olympic's Skylar Wilder's standards, we were living an "alternative lifestyle".

David Wise, is an Olympic Gold Medal skier.
He's twenty-three. He's also a husband and father.

{Source}
According to Wilder, "At such a young age, Wise has the lifestyle of an adult."

Well, how do I say this gently? La-Di-Freakin-Dah!
He has the lifestyle of an adult because HE IS ONE!
Does he deserve a medal for becoming a man? No. Manhood is its own reward.
According this article by the Christian Post, he and his wife are in leadership with
their church's youth ministry and he hopes to one day pastor a church.
I hope he does. Fantastic. He'll get his reward.
My Bible calls them crowns.

To be clear, David Wise has accomplished great things in his athleticism and sport.
Being an Olympian is definitely something most of us will never accomplish.
Being an Olympic Gold Medalist, even more so. That type of commitment and sacrifice,
that he and his wife have made, is commendable.
As far as I can tell, he deserves his medal completely.

When (When?!) did being a husband and dad become an "alternative lifestyle"?

Newsflash: If you are an able-bodied, able-minded twenty-three year old, married or single,
you are an adult. Act like it. This is not "alternative".

There is a real problem when twenty-three is considered guyhood, rather than adulthood.
Why are we keeping our boys boys? They need to be working by much younger than twenty-three, and I'd even argue the work needs to be physical, if possible. They need it. Masculinity is cultivated through projects like building something with power tools, digging ditches, and working on a car.
Athletics are good, physical outlets, too.

Let's encourage manhood, by not making it the exception, but the expected.

Thoughts?

Love! Melissa

Monday, February 10, 2014

Enlisted: Angel Caller.

We seem to fight a lot, don't we?
Fight traffic.
Fight the urge to ____.
Fight for the hearts of our children?
Fight for our marriages. (Please do.)
Fight in our marriages. (Sometimes.)
Fight injustice.
Fight the culture of unbelief.
Fight our flesh.
Fight the cantankerous person at work. (Don't.)

If you've been in church for any length of time,
you may have heard a bit of Paul's letter to the Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12

As believers, we are in a perpetual war. The moment Jesus wrecks our plans and we join his, we are  enlisted in an army of warriors and we seem to fight from all sides.

It can be overwhelming.
It's difficult to know what our "Military Occupation Specialty" should be in this war. It's difficult to grapple with an ordinary roll. Especially in our social media society of watching other people do grandiose feats in the name of Jesus and then write books about it and travel all over and whatnot.
What am I supposed to do? What's my role in all of this?

Then, I was reminded.
I listened to a speaker a couple of weeks ago give "a warning against prayerlessness". I immediately knew I was about to take a punch in the gut.
I'm a doer. I like to ask other people to pray for me while I go do.
She said, "In America, we value 'do'. God can 'do' immeasurably more."
Snap. This lady hates me and she's never even met me.

Speaking in the context of fighting human trafficking, she said,
"This is a spiritual battle. We fight spiritual battles in spiritual ways." We pray.
Praying is doing.

Citing Peter's escape from prison as told in Acts 12, I was knocked over afresh by the power of the praying Church.

So Peter was kept in prison, but 
the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” 
Acts 12:5-11 (Emphasis mine.)

The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament quotes Puritan preacher Thomas Watson as stating that prayer is the turning point in this account. He further stated, 
"The angel fetched Peter out of prison, 
but the prayers fetched the angel."

What's my role? I'm an Angel Caller.

No matter your season, you can position yourself in the Army as an Angel Caller. 
We can raise up sons and daughters to be Angel Callers. No. We must.

"You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, 
but you cannot do more than pray 
until after you have prayed." John Bunyan


Let's do it. Let's call the angels.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Purge

What's your policy on purging the books?
Is it like other things in the house?
If you haven't used it for six months or a year or whatever that rule is, it goes?


As a mom, a teaching mom specifically, I feel a bit differently about the books. Our home is our classroom, so having a personal library is quite convenient. But, I want space! What with all the Googles available and Kindle and our frequent library trips, I'm just not sure that it's necessary to have shelved books-a-plenty AND boxed books in closets?

I am perpetually gearing up to down-size our living quarters. (That's another post.) If that's the case, we have got to get rid of some of this jazz. We have a generally healthy keep/purge attitude, but the books are different.

And, for the love of Beth Moore what about my completed Bible Study books? I've asked this question before, couldn't decide, so they are still boxed. Moore, Smalley, Chapman, Blackaby. Really. My discernment is off kilter here.

Side Note: Could we stop writing gift notes in books? I've done this myself on a few occasions and I always have this internal struggle. Practically speaking, the new owner may want to give it away or consign it. But, our pearls of wisdom have tainted it with names and signatures and birthday wishes. Is it really necessary to go all Animal Kingdom on it and mark our territory?
Let's all just stop.


Love!
Melissa

PS-- I'm gonna be brave. I'm committing to a thirty-book purge. We will talk about pictures later. 

PPS--If you publish a book, and you DEDICATE the book to me, this is not the same is writing in it. Thank you.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dear Writer.


Five Minute Friday
It's a Lisa Jo Baker link-up thing, and it's a good one.
Here are the rules.
If you have a blog--you should so do it. It's so good when you feel uninspired or crunched for time. Anyone? Anyone?
Also, it's fun.

It's Five Minutes of pure blog adrenaline.
Five minutes of writing on a one word prompt. Period. No editing. No nothing. No pressure. No stress.

This week's prompt is Write.

Ready? Set.

Go.

Dear Writer,

That is what you are. A writer. So be who you are- all of who you are- in your writing. Let the tough out. Write through the tears and the hilarity and the perceived mundane. It all counts.

When it bleeds, bleed through your fingers. 
When it's loud, let it resonate through the tapping keys.
When it's tough, type hard and fast.
When it's risky, write courageously.
When it shines, let it shine on the screen. 
When it's snarky and funny, smile at your words.
When it's imperfect, it still means something.

All the words matter. Even the ones never shared. Write them.

~Write hard and clear about what hurts.
Ernest Hemingway~

Love,
Me.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Cell.

We have been Science-heavy here in this little homeschool lately. When I'm in charge of Science, we may or may not actually do a project. If it's super messy, we've been known to MythBuster that sucker or visit the YouTube Lab. Grinning. 
I would rather read about it and discuss it or write it up.

That confession confessed, I realize that I may not be the best option for the Sciences. When the option is available, I farm it out. Having outside classes has worked well for us; we prefer a more university-style, attending class once or twice a week and most of the work being at home. This year, I farmed out Apologia General Science to a teacher who loves Jesus and points to our Creator in every aspect of Science. It's been an asset to our homeschool.

Until it wasn't. 
It wasn't so brilliant when the Big Sister came home with the assignment to build a Cell Model. She put in she wanted to make a cookie cell model. 
What?! 
I seriously considered withdrawing her from the class. No joke.
The penalty for early withdrawal is 2 months tuition. Blech.

After a little research Pinterest, I found a few edible 
cell models that didn't make me want to cut myself.
I made the student read over several of them, cause this "is not my project, Little Girl. It's on you. I'll be your supplier and cheerleader." Laughing. But, really. 
I still ended up having to give step-by-step instructions for most of this jazz.

So, here it is, my nightmare:

We'd been stockpiling candy since the Christmas Gingerbread houses. :)

Labeling the parts of the cell.

Then, she assigned candy with a cell part. 

Sugar Cookie Cake. Just waiting. 

Colored icing for the plasma & membrane.

Little Sister helped.

She did it and she was so proud!

Look at that beast of a cell.
Just like most things, the angst of having to do it was worse than the task itself. Isn't that the worst?
Let me encourage you, Moms, if we can do it, anyone can. Real talk.

What's your nemesis of school projects for your kids? Science? PTA stuff?

Melissa
_________________________________

PS--Thanks for being patient while my blog undergoes a little construction.
Hopefully, it'll be just perfect soon! :)