Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Christians don't have to do the Kid-N-Play

These are the grown up versions of Kid-N-Play. They are still holding tightly to their dance moves where you swing your leg around and hit each other in the shin. The Kid-N-Play move occupied a large percentage of my time at most junior high dances.

For a long time I thought my Christian walk had to mirror my years as a high school student. As I strolled through high school, my mind was occupied with so many trivialities that I assumed would project me into absolute popularity and confirm my suspicions that everyone was thinking about just me all day long.

My bangs were to be solid, not bouncy.
I could be quirky, but not dorky.
If my locker was near the science lab and not the lunch room, I was sunk.

If I walked into school with wet hair...ok. If I walked into school with Princess Leia buns...not ok. 
I could pick my nails, but not my nose. 
I should speak up in class, but not dominate. 

My loafers needed the curly Q ties, not bows.
My shoulder pads belonged in sweaters, not shirts.
I could be a Christian, but only the help-your-neighbor kind, not the preach the gospel kind. 

I felt like each day was spent thinking through the ramifications of my actions and words. That one slip about how I still liked the smell of Strawberry Shortcake dolls while at biology lab and I was doomed. Each conversation seemed calculated and each event another chance to prove my worth to 555 classmates.

For many years, I also believed that I had to be a hip, laid back, totally relevant Christian that could talk "Fight Club," and the grunge scene with the best of them. I spent more time worrying about how to remain relevant than I did my own personal sanctification. And if I am going to assess honestly, I used the word relevant to actually mean fun and well-liked. I would tell myself that I wanted others to like me so that they will like Jesus. But, it was really just about liking me.

More often than not, I think people might have walked away with a certain impression of me, but very little about Jesus.

I'm learning and growing in this. I don't want to be a jerk, there are enough of those running around waving the Jesus banner. But I also don't want to be so concerned with my own popularity as to the neglect of my own holiness. Jesus has already earned the right to be heard. If I fumble around while telling someone, it's going to be ok. Jesus is already relevant.

Jesus has already earned the right to be heard.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Done with the Old and on to the New

Written by my 10-year old daughter, S.

Me and my brother are big readers, so we both started J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. It is around 1000 pages long. MV finished it around 2 months ago because he started it before me. In our house, When we finish the Lord of the Rings, then we get to watch the movie according to the book we just finished. So MV got to watch all three movies before I did.  Well, big news..... I just finished the third book, or the final book!!!!!!!! I am pumped!!! And not only that, but i get to watch the third movie any day now. I have all ready seen the 1st and 2nd movie and now the 3rd.

        Also, speaking of books, me and a friend have started a book series. I do all of the writing and she just gives suggestions and so on. It is kind of hard to explain in 2 sentences, so here is the summary that I wrote about the first book:

Twighlight for morals summary for Book 1

You’ve heard of stories with "happily ever after" and stories with "to be continued"… You probably have also heard of a type of story that not many people think of and gets thrown to the back of your head with all other garbage; Fables
    Kendra, Lily, Kara, and Violet are the best of friends and they are always together, until now… When the four girls are playing outside one day, Kara and Violet all of a sudden disappear! The only thing to explain this confusing problem is a confusing and unexplainable note.
   When Kendra and Lily start to search for their friends, they find their friends, but got a lot more than what they bargained for…

 I am still not sure what we are going to do with it, like publish it,  or do it just for fun.

Adios Amigos!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Don't use Duct Tape, Instead use These

 A week ago I put up a post about having kids that don't sit still, even in their sleep. I feel like I go in and out of seasons in dealing with this in a godly manner. The rest of the time, I lose it and smoke comes barreling out of my ears. I've employed many others who are smarter, wiser, cuter, and more creative than me to help out. I'm hoping that some of these tips will bring some sanity to your day too.

The thing with most of the tricks I've used in the past is that they just aren't sustainable. If I were only homeschooling one or two kids at a time, I could manage to put together a mystery box with all these multi-sensory activities everyday. When you are homeschooling 5 at one time, the multi sensory is created when your 4-year-old smears apple cores on your computer screen and your 8-year-old sticks an eraser up his nose. Very multi sensory if you ask me. But I felt like some really good suggestions were given. If you've got something else that works, that doesn't require duct tape, then put them in the comments so that others can gain from your experience.

1. Let them bounce around on those mini trampolines. I had one of these growing up. Wait a minute, Mom, was this what you were dealing with in me? I bounced on that thing and pretended that Kevin Bacon was whisking me away to dance on site at Footloose. Hours I tell you. Hours.

2. Illustrate what they are learning or while they are reading.

3. Take vitamin supplements. One mom recommended Nordic Naturals DHA. Some kids that struggle with ADHD can have lower levels of DHA.

4. If you have a kinesthetic learner, this site has some great stuff. I don't think my 6-year old is this type of learner, she is just wiggly. But there are things on here that I can incorporate so that she can have a change of pace.

5. We tried an exercise ball. Fail. Aimee recommended an exercise disc to place on a chair to give your child a little movement. She's got some great ideas on the post I just linked to.

6. Do lots of treasure hunts to find vowels or nouns or whatever you're learning.

7. We have found ipad apps are helpful. It changes the medium a little bit and gives them a change to use their hands. Here are a few of our favorites. Grasping for Objectivity also had some good ones for younger kids.

8. Cut out carbs. Please note, that this is for the child only. I will not in fact be cutting carbs from my diet.

9. Keep it short. 15 minute lessons at a time. I'm going to set a timer and give it a try this week. My super competitive child will love trying to beat the buzzer.

10. I had several males chime in. Some of their recommendations were scotch and jumper cables. Scotch I'm assuming would be for the parent.

11. Let them chew gum or eat small snacky things. My kids love dried fruit and it's super cheap here. You just need something that takes a long time to eat and they can keep in their mouths.

12. I have found that telling my daughter that when she finishes her math, she can go outside and jump rope for a bit helps here knock out her work with more motivation.

I'm gonna leave this list at 12 points because it's awkward and reveals where exactly my daughter inherited this focus problem.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Favorite Two Screen Shots of the Day

 I just took a screen shot over at Amazon. When you look up "Redefining Home: Squatty Potties, Split Pants, and Other Things that Divide my World," you will also discover that customers who viewed my book also moseyed on over to look at these:
And yes, The Welles Step model is by far my favorite. Let's not pull any punches in marketing, shall we?

I also looked down at the books Amazon recommends for me. I've got a wide range of invigorating reads from "Ariel," with her need to wear a shirt to "Union with Christ." I'm sure both camps are rolling their eyes at one another. 

Hey, by the way, Redefining Home Kindle is on sale until 5 pm ET on the 18th for $3.99!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Redefining Home is $3.99 on Kindle

So put down the flowers and return the Golden Corral gift certificate for Mother's Day. Buy your Mama a book. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Just Sit Still for 5 Seconds!

I love this girl. What I don't exactly enjoy is her flailing out of her chair, reading with her legs sprawled up on the wall and her hair in her mouth for a better part of home school. This girl line dances in her sleep. Because sternly saying "sit down," has become like the announcements at church-nobody's listening. 

So, I've decided to tackle this head on. I've got a straw and a drink to prevent hairballs from forming in her small intestines; an exercise ball to keep her from falling back 85 times before 2 pm; and a bean bag iguana to keep her left hand busy while she works with her right. 

It's only been a day, but it worked pretty well today. As long as I can keep this thing from being used as a total elimination dodge ball, I think we'll be good to go. 

If you've got any other magic cures, I am all ears. 

**As a side note, I went to title this post and originally I wrote "Beating Energetic Kids." I meant winning, but clearly this would have caused some issues between me and CPS.

Ok, so I wrote the above blog about a week ago. One day I decided to document how this ball thing was working. Here's what I captured in the span of 2 hours:

Reading. Note the toy placed between her knee caps. She told me it was to help keep her legs straight.

Reading comprehension questions. I could barely understand her answers to "What happened when the shepherd found the sheep?" Her head was actually under her desk at this point.

Working on her worksheet. Notice the blurry legs. Blurry legs=massive amounts of motion.

We had just finished math. 

Seriously. I am out of good ideas. If you have a child who is in perpetual motion, how in the world do you get them to sit for 5 seconds? We do tons of physical activity during her homeschool, but at some point she does have to sit down for a few minutes. I'm up for any and all suggestions. I'll try and post them so that others can learn from your wisdom. 

Monday, April 09, 2012

Burning Sacrifices in our Hallway

We are studying Ancient China now. I've posted before how much I love my history curriculum. It pretty much makes me want to do spirit sprinkles everyday when we crack it open. 

We had a friend over who helped the kids build their Great Wall. We've been to the Great Wall many times, so it was fun to learn even more about the emperors who made that thing happen. Perseverance is the defined in building the Wall.

We flipped the ancient coins that told our fortunes and then made some up for other people. It did not go well for some. 

M followed us around and stuck things on her face. And down her dress. And then did handstands.

No joke, we had just studied all the ancient gods when we stepped out our apartment door and saw this woman burning paper money to her ancestors. Overlooking the massive safety hazard in burning paper in slippers in a staircase, we were reminded of serious some people take to offering things to their ancestors. The kids and I got to pray over her together as we walked downstairs to our silk worm farm at a store nearby. 

I totally just said, "walked to our silk worm farm." 

Where are we?

How did we get here?

Never mind, let's focus on the fact that I felt like a Homeschool rockstar because we got to do so many field trips. This feeling has already passed, so no worries for my soul.

We strolled by the Taoist temple that doubles as a car wash. 

We rallied some friends to climb up Gu Shan. Not the most leisurely stroll with blue jays whistling through our wind blown hair, but it was still fun. 

We took this picture simply because we get our picture taken everyday. Not gonna lie, it felt vindicating to take a picture of a total stranger without asking. 

I should probably repent. 

Here's our crew mustering up a smile. There were about 2,000 stairs. We bribed the kids with ice cream to make it to the top. I have no shame. 

These things have nothing to do with ancient China, but everything to do with being uber talented with melted sugar. Made my pipe cleaner lion feel like a loser craft. 

We prayed as we watched others offer things to their ancestors. We went during "Sweeping of the Tombs," festival. People are expected to clean the tombs and burn things to give to their ancestors in the afterlife. 

We rode these cable cars down the mountain. I just might have peed my pants a little. Something about riding man made things down a mountain caused my throat to seize and made me mutter hail mary's. I'm not even Catholic. It was that scary. 

Of course when I told my two male passengers, they rocked the car. I should have known that was an inner monologue thing. 

The mountain was beautiful and we had a blast. 

They kids made their own ink and wrote John 14:6 in calligraphy. Then we burned the sheets to make them look old. 

Our friend told us that the wife and sometimes orphan kids would sit next to the nobles side and make the ink. She acted as the dutiful wife, made ink and fanned herself. 

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Women went Running

The earth quakes, the veil violently tears, the sky closes its eyes and all goes black.

It is finished.

His limp body is taken down from the cross and placed in a stone tomb. Sealed by a stone and guarded by the most skilled of Roman soldiers. The leaders have lost enough face as it is, they were certainly not going to let the disciples come in and steal the body, claiming resurrection.

The moon and the sun rotate in silence as their Creator lays still inside a cave. The disciples huddle together watching their lives move on. But two women refuse to let death win. Jesus promised to rebuild, to restore hope. They were merely buying time until they would visit Jesus' grave and usher Him back to their reality.

Dawn brings the hope of a new day, the women watched for its first appearance. The earth trembled and a stone was pushed back. The women have became so unsure of their footing that they just keep running, afraid that they have missed something. Maybe afraid of what will happen if they stay still.

The fresh sand dug deep into a path leading to the cave. The stone was gone.

Fear, panic, surprise, disappointment, love, fatigue, hope, despair. All of these emotions partnered with their opposite and forced tears to roll down their faces.

An angel spoke the words the women could not, "Do not be afraid. He is not here, for he has risen."

At these words, the women's feet started running. Pushing through thorn bushes and luminous cedar trees to reach the sanctuary of the disciples.

The words "He is Risen!" reached into the disciple's hearts to meet doubt, confusion and hope. What their ears heard, their hearts couldn't fathom. Jesus was alive.

Jesus came and sat. Ate roasted fish and reminded his followers that He had defeated death. The most courageous of acts for a King. From that day forward, Jesus wanted His followers to gather others into His Kingdom.

 To lead out in truth.

 To lead out in hope.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Eyes of Hope

Pilate washed the external guilt of Jesus' death from his hands.

Royal mockery was placed on his head and body. Scorn spit from the mouths of young soldiers. The whips were released over and over, sending pain through every bone in Christ's body. Separating joints, tearing through muscles. The splinters of the cross bear down on his torn body.

Left foot.

Right foot.

Left foot.

Right foot.

Jesus had one simple task, make it up the hill. It was almost over. It was just beginning.

The beatings continued as women in the crowd buried their heads into their shaking hands. None of this made sense. Didn't the prophets promise a King? Death is the fate given to the king of defeat. This King cannot even save Himself from torture by the Romans.

As Jesus plods towards Golgotha, he turns his head to look into the hearts of the crowd. Looking through the bruised skin into Jesus' eyes a woman sees His resolve. He pushes the sweaty, stained hair from His eyes to glance at a young boy. Despite the agony, the boy sees in Jesus only hope. There is never panic or fear in Jesus, simply a son being asked to do what His Father asks of him.

Left foot.

Right foot.

Left foot.

Right foot.


The soldiers lift the heavy wood and fashion it into a cross. Their workday almost done. A few final blows and this criminal would be finished reeking havoc on this earth.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Group Decision to Crucify

The guilt tied a noose around the neck of Judas. The denial was choked out three times by Peter. Supporters of Jesus sit in the shadows, waiting for the condemnation to be passed down. The pulsing of the crowds become so loud that it convinces Pilate that this is the heartbeat of the people. The energy of group decision casts a single vote for the life of Barabbas.

Mothers and fathers would rather have a condemned criminal  lurking their streets than a man who was claiming to be God. The crowd didn't ask for His captivity. Their hearts wanted nothing of Him to exist. The chanted rhythmically for his crucifixion.

Crucify Him!

Crucify Him!

Crucify Him!

Children have now joined in. Jumping up and down in excitement. Certainly all these adults know why they are screaming these words. Trusting children asking for the death of the Son of God.

All healings forgotten.

All teachings twisted.

Jesus was now being sent to die by the voices that needed Him most. By the voices that just days earlier shouted to Him, "Hosanna!"

Confused, hurt, convinced. The crowd had turned.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Isn't this Easier?

The cracking of dried tree branches and the pull of blazing torches turns the heads of the disciples to a great crowd now descending upon their small meeting place. A garden, where both life and death have their seasons.

The light from the torches seem to rise up and form a altar. A place where the impossibility of sacrifice and the unraveling of humanity would be come together and be offered for this last time.

Judas approaches Jesus and places the signal of love inappropriately placed on the cheek of a betrayed friend.

Jesus receives.

He knows it is the only was for the war to be one. The soldiers stand by weilding clubs, grasping swords, and grinding teeth. They are ready for a battle.

So is Jesus, but of a different kind.

Peter lunges forward in an assumed position of defender. The sword cuts through the air and slices the ear of his enemy. In Jesus' final act of healing, he removes the pain from an enemy. As a demonstration of His divinity and a picture of what exactly would be happening on the cross.

The air has grown murky and begins to choke the disciple's hearts so that running becomes their only viable option. Staying would mean certain death. They turn around and head for the safety of the unknown. The safety of disassociation. It would be easier this way...wouldn't it?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

What Just Happened?

The shocking news of Judas' betrayal has sunk in. Maybe out of nervous energy, out of anxious daydreaming, they pick up bread and continue to eat. Appropriately, Jesus talks about forgiveness. Immediately following the treacherous act of Judas, Jesus talks about changing hearts.

Judas, the man who was trusted with the money. The one who sat around comforting fires at night after a long day of travel and shared stories of his childhood. A friend who they teased and hugged and shared their lives with.

He was gone.

His deed was done.

The disciple's family was coming unglued. Judas had given into a worldly reputation and Jesus was announcing his death. The disciples dropped their nets, closed their money boxes, and said good-bye to family members to join Jesus. This group was everything they had. And now it all seemed wrong. If Jesus was supposed to be a King, why would he be dying so soon? This had to be one of the questions the disciples were asking, even if it wasn't vocalized for the rest to hear.

And not only that, but Peter, zealous and passionate Peter would deny ever even KNOWING Jesus.

Chaos and fear was looming around the table as this ragged group tried to figure out what just happened. In the heavens everything was going right according to schedule. While they scrambled to connect the dots and to pledge their allegiance, the heavens were preparing for the one event that would change the world forever.

A death.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Preparations to Celebrate


A celebration of relief and redemption as the Israelites remembered that eery time in Egypt. Where despite the strong arm of Pharaoh, a boy once tossed in a river would come and steal them out of slavery.

The luring smell of roasting lamb, freshly risen bread, stewing spices saved for such an occasion. Children weaving their way through the crowds, giggling and playing tag with one another. Parents sitting by reminiscing last year's feast. Recounting the months in between that brought new birth for some and tragic days for others.

Jesus tells the disciples it is time to prepare. Eagerly, the disciples rise up to set the feast in motion. Jesus knew that the earthly preparations would only act to ready the disciple's hearts to be broken. At least for a time.

 There is an excited murmur in the city as families prepare their homes and tables to celebrate. Jesus sends them on the task of preparing for the feast. I am sure they were excited, thinking of the evening's food, singing, story-telling and worshipping that would happen among them.

Sitting under the disillusioned safety of a festival, the disciples sit with Jesus to eat.

Passing the warm bread around the table comes to a frightening halt when Jesus mutters the words, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." All cups were placed back on the table and the disciples swallowed their food hard in preparation for objection. In preparation for sorrow.

Judas had already sold Jesus to the highest bidder. The money justifying his conscience, at least for now.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

What is Wasting?

I was reading in the bathtub the other night and came across a story that has always unsettled me. I'm going to blog several times this week so that I can walk through this story bit by bit.

The chief priests, elders, and people of high stature gathered at Caiaphas' house to plot how to ruin Jesus. Jesus was at Simon the leper's house. The scandalous tagline that followed Simon even into the Bible. He was a marked man. Jesus had merely hours left in his life and he chose to spend several of those hanging out with a leper. With a friend.

As they reclined at the table and broke bread together, in strolls a woman with an expensive flask of ointment. She opens it and the aroma sends a message of beauty and extravagance to the disciples lounging nearby. To Jesus, it is the glorious smell of his impending death. The disciples were indignant in reminding Jesus that they could have sold this perfume to help the poor. Jesus needs them to understand that for this moment, His preparation will take precedence. While bread would help the poor for today, his life would rescue them for eternity.

She took the perfume and slowly wove it through Jesus' hair, preparing his mind and heart to die. It is this act of "wastefulness," that Jesus said will be "proclaimed to the whole world."

I have to say that I understand the disciple's angst here. I feel the urging of those around me to help. And we know that Jesus is not telling them that the poor are unimportant, he just needs them to understand that His death would be the ultimate justice for the world.

So often my eyes remain fixated on the concrete and fleshy confines of my day. The people and their questions, the beggings of my children, the food unevenly distributed, the list of things that steadies my attention. This is my reality.

As Easter approaches, I want to be extravagant in my time with Jesus. The things that normally beckon my attention need to sit behind my meditating on the life, ministry, and death of Jesus. If I am going to "waste" time this week, I want it to be because I am soaking in the cross. Because I am in awe of a King ushering in His reign by dying. So contradictory. So perfect.
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