Friday, April 25, 2014

Education: Holy Hot Topic

I have written and deleted this post so many times, now it's time to just hit publish.

There are few things these days that get people more riled up than Education. Just take a look at your own Facebook feed and I'm sure you know what I mean.

People get downright passionate and sometimes pretty rude about it (in a passive-aggressive "just sayin" sort of way)

Here are my two cents, because I know you realllllly care right?

Education is important. We here in the First world take it for granted. We have multiple choices in how we educate our children, where as in the rest of the world kids are lucky to even learn how to read.

Education matters. Education is crucial and it's a gift.

I don't think there is a right way to do it.

There are some incredibly awful public schools, with awful teachers and mean kids.

There are some amazing public schools with amazing teachers, and some awful ones and some nice kids and some mean kids.

There are also some really amazing private Christian schools, with some amazing teachers, and some awful ones too. These private Christian schools have some pretty awful kids too.

There are also some pretty lame private Christian schools with both amazing and awful teachers too.

There are also some homeschooling parents who suck at it.
 And there are some amazing homeschooling parents with kids who are awful.

There are also some amazing homeschooling parents with amazing kids.

My point is.... you have crappy teachers and kids and parents everywhere you look.

Right now, our oldest is at the private Christian school I went to. My husband and I have prayed from early on that He would help us make the right choice for our children regarding their education.
We decided we would always take it year by year.

For now, this is where we are.
We are in a pretty sucky public school district, so for us that isn't an option in our current house.

We may end up sending him to public school at some point, who knows some of our kids may be in public, some in private and some home schooled.

I think you need to know your kids. You need to be involved. Know their teachers, the parents, how your kid learns and functions and then make a prayerful decision.

You may be dead set on homeschooling and it just isn't right for your kid. I know I'll offend someone when I say, it isn't right for every kid.

There are a multitude of reasons I don't want to home school, but if God wants me to, I will.
I get scared when I think of sending my precious boys to a school where there are young kids saying and doing things they should have no concept of.
I went to private Christian school, I know the kids there aren't all nice and quiet little church kids- of course I worry about that too.

They are my kids. I worry about them regardless. I won't bubble wrap them though.

What I will do, is trust. I will trust in God who has given me these precious kids to raise and that includes where they learn. I will be engaged and I will pray and then I will trust.

I'm so tired of the arguments for and against all these types of education.
I'm tired of hearing "if I really loved my kids I would home school argument."
I'm tired of hearing I'm "sheltering my kids by sending them to a Christian school argument."

I'm thankful we have a choice in how to educate our kids, and that worrying about how they will learn is on my brain and not "How will I feed my kids tonight?" or "Will my child ever learn to read?"

So there ya have it. Go and educate your kids- however thou wantest.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How to Live Intentionally and Stop Going Through The Motions

In my last post I shared about how I started living more intentionally and stopped just consuming.

So how did I go about doing that?

This isn't a formula or the "right way" but these are things I (we) did and have led us to where we are now.

After reading, and meeting with a few close friends, being challenged by God... I tell you it was like I was seeing for the first time in my life. Things hadn't changed with WHAT I believed, it was about HOW that looked. How all the stuff I knew needed to look a whole lot different than it had. Church needed to look different, our lives needed to look different....

1) Read.

 Pick up some or all of these books and start reading. Some you may love, some you may struggle with and that's okay. It's okay to wrestle with things and disagree and also find out you've been wrong.
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Love Does by Bob Goff
Radical by David Platt
Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
7 The Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker
Sacrilege by Hugh Halter
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

2) Intentional Relationships.

If you are going to do this life and do it well, you need people in your life who not only love you and accept you, but challenge you and hold you to a higher standard. When God began shifting stuff in us, we were in friendships with people that were feeling the same thing. We began meeting intentionally to pray. Weekly. We said it was happening every week at the same time, no matter what. Sometimes it's quiet and the kids play outside, sometimes the kids are crazy and in our faces, sometimes we eat sometimes we don't. We pray for one another, we share the real gritty stuff and we dream together. We dream about what we hope God will do and we speak truth and love. It's not a weekly get together without a purpose. It's intentional. And it's overflowed into our everyday lives. It's like family.

If you have friends who are on the same page as you, get real about it. Be intentional about your times together and seek more. If you don't have anyone like this in your life- pray that God would bring that about. It can't be forced or manifested- it's just gotta be Him.

3) Do stuff that matters.

Take all that head knowledge, all that stuff you know- along with those relationships you have and look at your life. Are you really doing stuff that matters, or are you filling your days with stuff that just steals time away.
If your days are busy but there is nothing real to show for it, stop doing it. Start doing the stuff that you love, that you are called to do, and stop doing the rest of it. (Read Love Does)
When God first started stirring in us this change, we jumped at it all. We were serving at the Mission, handing out food to homeless people, giving our money away to anyone who held up a sign, looking into moving to South Sudan. I mean we just were so ready for change that we were jumping at everything! It was good, it was just doing something until God began to shape and form in us exactly what that looked like for our family, and He's still doing it.

4) Be the change.

Don't wait for your church to change. Your friends to change or your family to get it. Your friends might think you're crazy, and your family might not get "it"- sometimes that's what it's gonna look like. Start the wave of change. Change up how you do holidays and parties. If you're in a small group, speak up about being more service minded instead of "study" minded. Get your hands and feet on the streets and do. Speak up and don't settle. It may take awhile for anything to catch on, but don't give up. I almost did.

5) Find out what you were made for.

I'm a stay at home Mom and a wife of a full time pastor. I have a unique set of gifts and talents that don't get put on the back burner because I'm a Mommy. I don't have to choose or sacrifice either. Like I said in this post.... find out what you were created to do, where you should give your time to. And then do it. It's good for my kids to see me heading out to meet with teen Moms, or to go to a Trades of Hope party. They see that Mommy isn't just a Mommy and that the world doesn't stop and start for them. There is a bigger picture and it's important our kiddos get that. I want nothing else than to teach my boys this life is not about them, and that we are to give ourselves away.

Read, pray, be intentional with your friends and your time, serve, step outside your comfort zone, forget that you've grown up in the church and start looking through the eyes of someone who has no clue what church is about, love more and talk less, find out what makes you tick, be challenged, make change and don't settle.

Don't settle for comfortable church and a million Bible studies. Don't settle for surface conversation and self-centered talk. Don't settle for the American Dream, it's not what Christ intended anyway.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tired of Consuming: Now What

I mentioned in my last blog post that I stopped going to Bible Studies. Not that I stopped studying the Bible, just that I hadn't attended a Bible Study in quite some time. There is nothing wrong with Bible Studies, in fact I believe they can be very essential to new Christians, those who are newly growing in faith and need to know what this whole "life in Christ" thing is all about. There can be great conversation that stirs in a Bible Study and deep friendships borne as well.

There is however, a large amount of people who have grown up in the church that as Jen Hatmaker says are "still starving for nourishment after our sixth Bible study in a row..." 
These people can't seem to fill that "hole" or "void" and soon after a Bible Study ends, they start to feel empty, distant or dry again, and so they go to another Bible study- feeling that is what is needed. 

I would argue that instead of attending more studies, more programs, more "things" we take what we know (again, those who have lived this cycle for many years) and put it into practice.

You know I love me some Hatmaker, so another quote for you:

“We don't see the New Testament church hoarding the feast for themselves, gorging, getting fatter and fatter and asking for more; more bible studies, more sermons, more programs, classes, training, conferences, information, more feasting for us. At some point, the church stopped living the bible and decided just to study it, culling the feast parts and whitewashing the fast parts. We are addicted to the buffet, skillfully discarding the costly discipleship required after consuming. The feast is supposed to sustain the fast, but we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths, stuffed to the brim and fat with inactivity.” 

Right? We live in a society of consumers, and it includes the American church.

Have you felt this way?  Maybe you feel a little empty even though you've been attending church, studies, classes and events for quite some time. Maybe you've felt like there is a little more to life than what you're living and maybe you want to live a better story than you have been.

Here's the deal, you don't have to pick between living a great story and doing something significant and also being a ______ (Mom, wife, student, kid, teenager, number cruncher, waitress, accountant etc) You fill in the blank.

I don't have to pick between being a stay at home Mom and also living a life of a world changer outside of my home. I don't have to put on the back burner "great things" while I change diapers, clean floors and give time-outs. I can do it without making my family suffer, or stifling the burning in my heart that God created in me.

I am not "just" anything. He did not created me to be "just" anything.

So now what? What do I do with this...if I want to live more intentional, and stop consuming and start giving.

I want to share with you what I've done. Not because it's the right way, the perfect way or the only way, but because maybe it might help one of you in your journey too.

I want to share with you how I started digging to find out how to live this one life better.

John 10:10 says "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Life to the full.

Next post:

Little steps I've taken

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On Growing Up: Living Intentionally

I spent the better part of my young-adulthood just wading through things. I've done things I've always wanted to try (like phlebotomy) and I've done things that have landed in my lap (Medical Assisting, Trades of Hope and Photography).

At church I've answered phones, greeted people, answered questions for new-comers, worked with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, Jr. Highers and High Schooler's. I've served dinner for our mid-week service, I've done sign language, drama and scripture readings. I've organized and stapled papers, put books on shelves and filed odds and ends.

I've attended retreats, women's events, Bible studies, Sunday School classes, church services, camps, missions trips, concerts and speakers.

Why? Because that's what growing up in the church looked like. You go, you do these things and you plug in.

Most people do that their entire lives. They go, plug in and stay there. Or they go, plug in, get bored, change it up and repeat that for the rest of their lives.

They like kids, so they plug into children's ministry. They like the behind the scenes so they do the camera or video. They like details so they do that weird detailed stuff.

Sometimes the things we like may not be what we are best at. Sometimes we are doing life, in ministry and outside of ministry, that is pretty stale and boring and we don't even know it.

I don't go to Bible Studies anymore (Pastor's Wife Shocker). Kinda got tired of just talking about it all, and not going and doing it. My husband calls it "feeding fat sheep". We know it. We get it and then we sit and consume more and more and get fatter and fatter and don't actually go out and do all the things we know to do. We are just consumers. That's what Bible Study started to feel like to me. (Bible study isn't bad- that's not what I'm saying)

I study the Bible. I pray.  I meet with friends weekly. We pray. We do life. We challenge one another. Bible Doing is kinda where I'm at.

I decided I didn't want to just do ministry for the sake of ministry- I wanted to find out what I was really supposed to be doing. I wanted to know what my life has shaped me for, what God has created in me and what my gifting and talents were. All of those things create a unique person with unique gifting for specific things. I don't want to be 60 years old still serving someplace to fill a hole when I could have been living in the exact spot I was created to live in.

What does that look like? It looks a little like this and this mixed together. It looks like dissecting your life. It looks like being vulnerable in front of people you trust- asking them what they see. It looks like taking this and this (or something similar) and then adding it to the other stuff. It looks like prayer. It looks like being intentional about my life and not just wading through the waters.

It looks like knowing there is more to life than a job, then money, then a house or retirement and being fully ready to dive in to what God has for me- because that is far greater than anything tangible I can hold on to.

It's good- to look at yourself and find out who you really are...for His purpose.

I feel like I'm actually growing up now, owning myself and my faith and being intentional about it.

What do you do after you're done? You stop doing all the things you've been doing that aren't what you should be doing (even things you had no idea you weren't supposed to do) and you start doing the things He's crafted you to do.

You go be awesome.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mexico: Redux

I've been home from Mexico for one week and am still processing and adjusting. I always have a hard time coming home from a trip and going right back to routine. There is no buffer for Mama, just back up and at em with the boys and life.

Mexico was awesome. From the moment our van left the church parking lot I was all in. I found myself in a van of 13 guys and 0 girls. I felt right at home with all those boys, and honestly it was so great. They were quiet and nice and contrary to what some may think it only smelled at one point along the way. The van ride alone was a vacation for myself.

This group of teens was nothing like the group of teens in my youth group, so basically they were awesome. I loved watching them work hard, work together and dive in. The days were long and physically exhausting and the evenings were for bonfires and worship.

Our group built a house and a community center in 4 days. Working pretty much from 8:00am-5:00pm with one break for lunch for 4 days straight. It was amazing to see something come out of nothing.

The final day we handed over the keys after a prayer of dedication and blessing, and the joy on these grateful faces was worth it and then some.
I loved being able to capture the moments on camera, and also got to work with my hands building.

I will be back that's for sure. God redeemed that crappy Mexico trip and those crappy youth group years and then some for me. I'm thankful for my friends who challenged me, who asked me to do something and then wouldn't let me say no later when I tried to back out.
The conversation in the van on our ride home challenged me more than any moment throughout the week, I am so grateful for friends who speak truth and life into my life. That's gold right there.

Also, Port-a-Potties for a week aren't so bad, nor are solar bag showers in a cement square.

Here is the link to the blog I did while we were in Mexico, you can read back through the updates and then the full recap video is below! This travel photography gig is pretty sweet.