Archive for January 2015

Those Weird Homeschoolers   Leave a comment

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You’ve heard about them, right? “Those weird homeschoolers”? I have. I’ve found myself in a few conversations lately, where these infamous “weird homeschoolers” came up. People with kids in public schools and homeschooled alike have talked about these mysterious creatures. Some assume all homeschooled kids are “those weird homeschoolers”, and then are shocked when they find amazing well-balanced kids that happen to receive an education at home. Some are even parents or kids who have opted to homeschool, but are battling the “weirdness” misconception. They find themselves informing people that while they may homeschool, they’re not “those weird homeschoolers”. In these recent conversations, I found myself agreeing, strongly, about avoiding being like “those weird homeschoolers”. I got to thinking, who exactly are these people? These weird homeschoolers? I mean, I know several people who homeschool their children, but I wouldn’t label them as weird. In fact, they are some of the most balanced, involved, social, loving kids that I know. So, I did a little digging to find out a little bit more where that perception comes from, and whether it’s accurate. Since this is a blog, I don’t have to stock it full of facts and percentages that would bore you anyway. I’m going to introduce you to a few concepts and a few extraordinary people that all have something in common: Homeschool.

People are weird.  Humans in general are weird. Just take a look at your Facebook, Instagram or twitter feed. Some more weird than others . . . but we are all quirky or different in our own way. We have habits like asking people to smell something because it stinks, and they willingly smell it. Ewww! But we do it. Someone says a picture is disturbing or gross and we just HAVE to see it. Yep, weird. My daughter was reading a book to me, and as she’s reading, she tries to stick her big toe in my nose! Public school education, right there! Still weird. Look around you, go to a public place. Guaranteed, you will see something you could easily classify as weird especially if you go to Walmart! If you don’t, just go find a mirror, and there you have it! But since when is weird a wrong, undesirable thing? I guess it depends on your definition.

“Homeschoolers” ARE weird . . . well, kinda. I was curious and looked up the actual definition of weird . . . and you will see all of my favorite homeschoolers are included in the second part of the second definition. “Of strange or extraordinary character” (check it out for yourself: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weird). None of them are strange, but they are ALL extraordinary. Don’t worry, I’ll introduce you to them in a minute!

It’s not nice to call people weird. I know, I just finished calling homeschoolers weird, but I only mean the extraordinary character part of the definition. Usually when someone is referred to as weird, it’s definitely not a compliment. Ok, you may be more politically correct and refer to people as “different”, but it’s all the same thing. I actually think the whole concept of “those weird homeschoolers” is rooted in ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to view other cultures from the perspective one’s own. It’s the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture. Ouch, right? I’m right there with you. But really, think about it, if we aren’t talking about the not-weird homeschoolers we know, who are we calling “those weird homeschoolers”? Close your eyes and picture what they look like in your mind, what they do, who they are. Chances are they have a different religion or culture from your own. What we label as “weird” is actually the part that is culturally different from our own. I moved to Texas from Canada. Let me tell you, I was on the wrong end of Ethnocentrism, and it didn’t feel good. There were moments that I thought if I heard another unfavorable Canadian “joke”, I thought I might throat punch someone! Don’t worry, I’m not innocent either. I spent my first several years in Texas rolling my eyes at cultural things that didn’t make sense to me. It’s not loving, it doesn’t promote unity, and it’s just not nice.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let me introduce you to some very extraordinary people!

10847845_10203234591174128_5426312171468632723_n LeAnne, 17 and Joey, 12
LeAnne plays the Viola and Piano. She’s participated in several missions trips, including trips to Mexico and Spain and has another planned to Kenya this summer, where she will work in an orphanage school. She plans to get her teaching degree and hopes to work with Mercy Ships in a couple of years.  Joey plays the cello, piano, guitar and is learning the banjo. He leads worship in the middle school class at church on Sunday and Wednesday night. He participate in a missions trip to Mexico this past Christmas. He has just started a club based on the book “Do Hard Things” They are currently working on memorizing a book of the Bible and setting up a bake sale to earn money to send to missionaries in Tibet. Both LeAnne and Joey perform in a Youth Symphony.
beddingfield 2 Jasey 17, Jewel 15
Jasey has her own line of repurposed glass art and produces commissioned portraits. She works part-time at Gift of Grace, a ministry resale shop. She plans on attending art school and obtaining a business degree. She would like to start her own production company and primarily be a concept artist. Jewel is active in youth activities that include singing with the worship team, traveling with missions groups, and backpacking wilderness trips. She volunteers at Gifts of Grace as well and concentrates on visual merchandising. She loves children and enjoys opportunities to babysit, teach and chaperone as needed. She loves fashion and shopping. She plans on attending cosmetology school and obtaining a business degree. She would like to start her own business and be a one stop shop for clothing, art, hair, skin and nails.

mikki family 2Clara 7, Nate 6, Maya 4.
Clara, Nate and Maya participate in a Christin education group called Classical Conversations, weekly. They study Latin, science, history, timeline, geography, Bible, English grammar, math, nature study and fine arts (music/musicians study & art/artist study). All 3 children participate in Artsview Children’s Theatre (http://www.artsviewchildrenstheatre.com/)  Clara takes piano lessons. They connect with multiple homeschool groups and participate in a variety of field trips.
FultonsJordyn 14, Caleb 10
Jordyn and Caleb keep active and enjoy travelling. Their homeschool experience has allowed them the flexibility to participate in things like snow skiing at Tahoe, hiking Yosemite,swimming in Mountain lakes and rivers, motorcycle trips with Dad, camping in the mountains, cliff diving, and whatever other adventures come their way. They are both very active in the church plant started by their parents, called Church Alive (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Church-Alive/850153701672542). Jordyn serves in Children’s church and is taking on the responsibilities of Children’s Pastor. Caleb is assisting as intern.
scontinosJulya 11, Jana 10, Micah 9, Emma 8, Camille 7, Bryce 7
Julya, Jana, Micah, Emma, Camille and Brice take private piano lessons. As their schedule permits, they participate and have participated in several athletic teams, including flag football, basketball, soccer, swim. All 6 participate in Artsview Children’s Theater. Julya is a Jr Apprentice at Artsview working with younger kids. She also participates in Cotillion. Julya, Jana and Micah also participate in online book clubs.
Pelaia familyBethany 17, Brittany 16, Breanna 13, Bryleigh 10 , Bryson 6
Bethany and Brittany participate in local theater at Artsview Children’s Theater, ballet, model for local photographers and are actively involved in their youth group (Switch: http://www.pathwaylongview.com/). Bethany leads worship on the Switch worship team, as well as singing with the Pathway worship team on Sunday mornings. Brittany sings on the youth worship team and has been involved with local theater for 3 years, holding several lead parts in their productions. Breanna is involved in Gem (dance competition team) and participates in ballet, pointe and jazz. Bryleigh is active with ballet, jazz and ballroom. Bryson also participate in a Kid’s ballroom class.  Mom, Laura, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014.  To follow her story and find out how to support her, please check out their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/morethanconquerorslaurapelaia

Pretty incredible, right?  I know you wonder . . . but what about adults?  Can they make it in “real life”.  Well, I have some more amazing people to tell you about, and they just so happened to have been homeschooled!

Jennifer Briggs:  Jennifer works with addicts & homeless at the House of Disciples (http://www.houseofdisciples.com/)  and managing Gifts of Grace Resale.

Amy Canton: Amy runs the leadership program for the Longview Chamber of Commerce.  She is also on the board of the Longview  Museum of Fine Arts as well as director/choreographer/dancer in Dancing with the Stars for Blue Jeans and Ball gowns, the annual fundraiser for CASA in the area (http://easttexascasa.org/blue-jeans-ball-gowns/)

Ethan Herring:  Ethan works for Kilgore College in Dodson Auditorium.  He plays keyboards for the 5 Dragon Daughter (http://www.the5dragondaughter.com) and other churchs/individuals when asked. He also dabbles in various other artistic hobbies in my free time (painting, sculpting, composing, etc)

Jesse Herring:  Jesse went to medic school and, became nationally registered (one of 6 that made it) as a paramedic. Now He works with Ethan running/renovating Dodson. He plays bass in the 5 Dragon Daughter.  He’s currently looking at going back to school this summer to start on becoming a veterinarian. Jesse also has a black belt in karate.

Brooke Nicholls:  Brooke is a musician/songwriter that you definitely want to check out.  She is a worship leader, and gifted musician.  (http://www.brookenicholls.ca/)

Tara Moretz:  Tara attended a private Christian school that was very small and the curriculum used is commonly used in homeschool environments.  She  graduated with the largest class of TWO, so her experience was similar to homeschool. She has Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is currently the Executive Director (Administrator) of a hospice in Longview, TX.

These are just a few, of many adults who received an education at home and are doing great things in their communities.    Is this a rant against the public school system?  Not at all!  I know plenty of great people with public and larger private school education.  You don’t see the same stigma attached to other educational settings as you do homeschool settings.  Just for fun, here’s a link to some famous “homeschoolers”: www.homeschoolacademy.com/a/famoushomeschoolers.  Check it out!  You might be surprised!

“Weird”. Merriam-webster.com. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 2015, Web. 29 January 2015.
“Ethnocentrism”. Dictionary.com Dictionary.com, LLC. 2015, Web. 29 January 2015

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Posted January 31, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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How to do Something You’ll REALLY Regret   Leave a comment

Photo credit: Takras / Foter / CC BY-NCIf you’re old enough to read this post, then you have experienced the sting of regret.  The moment you say that thing you knew you shouldn’t, impossible to take back.  The things you failed to do and know you should have.  And for some,  the life-event kind of regrets that manage not only to shatter your life, but through the generations.  When life shifted for me, I found myself on what felt like shifting sand. It would have been easy to do many things I would regret.  I’ve always been the “good” girl, who made the “right” choices . . . and look how that turned out . . . at least that’s what I could have told myself.  So why not try things my way?  Why not do what many newly single moms do and go out partying and looking for someone to meet my needs?  Why not make some major life-changing decisions in the middle of my crisis? People would understand.   I was presented with the opportunity more than once, but not the chance.  My life isn’t arranged with room for big regrets and wrong choices.  I actually have to go looking for trouble.  It made me question, how do so many people “fall” into choices and end up doing things they regret? It’s almost like they go looking for trouble, or it comes looking for them.  How about those who seemed to have everything together, and then “BAM!”, a lifetime of regrets piled up in moments, spit decisions?   Here’s how it happened, and how you can find yourself there too:

Hide your struggles, weaknesses and addictions.

Refuse to ask for help.

Make major life decisions in the middle of a crisis or emotionally heightened situation.

Get deeply offended with God for things you thought He should or shouldn’t have done.

Listen to people who tell you what you want to hear.

Judge other people harshly.  (That will likely be the area you will fall in.)

Ignore that “inner” voice that tells you not to do something.  Do it over and over again, until you don’t hear it anymore.

Find something to dull any uncomfortable emotions . . . people’s approval, performance, business, affairs, alcohol, drugs, being critical of others.  Whatever is your “thing”, be creative.  As long as it keeps you from having to actually address any real issues, it should work just fine.

Don’t ask God what He thinks, ESPECIALLY if you’re pretty sure that you won’t like the answer.

Live only in the here and now.  Being happy is most important, right?

Lie to others.

Lie to yourself.  A LOT.  Tell yourself that you could never do this or that . . . and when you do, tell yourself you’ll never do it again . . . but change nothing.   Tell yourself that you can’t change. Tell yourself that it’s not hurting anyone.   Tell yourself that you didn’t have a choice.   Tell yourself that it’s too late, so you might as well not try.

So there it is, how to set yourself up to do something you’ll really regret.  Not to helpful if you’re trying to get free or stay free from regret.  Helpful, if you recognize your own tendencies in that list, even one of them.  One thing I’ve learned in the past several years, is that no one is immune.  I’ve seen amazing men and women fall.  Some get back up, and some are still wallowing around in the slop.  It really is the grace of God that holds us.  He also give us some incredible tools.   How can you keep yourself from doing something you’ll really regret, or recover from decisions that have left you bogged down with regret?

Tell the truth.  Out loud, to someone you trust.  A counselor, a pastor, a trusted friend.  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16.  Admit that you need help, and make a commitment to tell the truth through accountability.  Find an accountability partner and find a mentor.  Both will protect you from going off track.  Make sure they are people who are walking in truth as well.  Take responsibility for your choices.  Admit that you have choice, whether you like the options or not.  Admit that you’re powerless.  You can’t save yourself.  “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6

Fill yourself with truth.  Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth, in love, even if it hurts or makes you angry.  Appreciate them for caring enough that they are willing to risk your approval for the sake of your overall well-being.  Read the bible, daily.  When you are in a situation where you have shut God’s voice off for awhile, it will help you weed through what is God and what is not.  Spend time WITH God.  He IS truth.  “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:31, 32

Take the way out.  The best thing you can do is to order your life so that it is almost impossible to get back into the situation that has caused you pain and regret.  Avoid the places and things that put you in tempting situations, get whatever help you need to get free.  Stay as far away from that “ledge” as you can!  What if you find yourself on the brink of making that terrible decision, but haven’t quite taken the next step, at least not this time? I mean, sitting on the edge of that bed, about to watch that video, open the bottle of liquor, or just in too deep in life in general . . . it may sound crazy, but pray . . .  even if you know you don’t deserve a way out.  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”   1 Corinthians 10:13. 

If you don’t believe me that you can be right at the edge of making that huge mistake, and God can and will still provide a way out . . . I have a story, a true one, that with my luck will go viral.  So are you ready for it?  I didn’t have many boyfriends.  Really, 2 actually. My husband was one of them.   I had my first real boyfriend . . . at 21.  And yes, he was much more experienced then me.  Please don’t imagine it too closely, it’s pretty personal.  We would kiss often, but rarely laying down.  One day we were hanging out in his bedroom, because his roommates had the living room occupied.  So, laying on his blow up mattress (I know, classy, right?), we started kissing.  It got quite intense.  I didn’t really have the desire in me to stop, and quite had the desire to continue to all things I hadn’t experienced.  So, I prayed.  Not a long prayer, more like . . . “God, I don’t know how to stop this, and I’m not sure I want to . . . please help.”.  What was my way out?  The blow up mattress literally popped!  I don’t mean, started losing air, I mean, loudly, suddenly, POPPED!  I’m not talking a cheap little air mattress, it was one of those heavy duty ones.  And no, there was nothing going on to prompt that to happen, and no sharp objects or signs of the source of damage.  Our time together stopped abruptly,  kissing only, nothing to regret.  What did we do next?  We told our pastor, who was also a close friend.  Instant accountability.  In fact, the whole church was holding us accountable, because no one could resist the urge to share our story!  But looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  No regrets!

No matter who you are we all have regrets, and we all are vulnerable to making some foolish choices.  At our church we talk about “doing life together”.  I really believe that is one of the greatest ways to keep from making terrible decisions.  Please find people to connect to.  Your local church can be an excellent resource, even if you aren’t “religious”.  Find people at work or with the same interests as you.  (Don’t connect deeply with people you are attracted to sexually or physically while you are in a vulnerable state.)   Find an AA or NA or Celebrate Recovery.  Connect with a local outreach or ministry.  Do what you need to do so you aren’t doing this alone.  Whatever that looks like.  Ask for help, and keep asking until you get it.

A couple great East Texas resources:

Pathway church (I love my church!  It’s a safe place): http://www.pathwaylongview.com/

House of Disciples (for addictions):  http://www.houseofdisciples.com/

Hannah House (for young women with unplanned pregnancies): http://www.plministries.org/

Those are just a few, there are a ton of great resources . . . just do a search, ask around.

Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/takras/3164316249/”>Takras</a&gt; / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>CC BY-NC</a>

Posted January 24, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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Provision   1 comment

I used to worry about money.  I used to worry about the future.  I used to worry about having enough.  The craziest thing happen.  My life “imploded”.  All my safety nets, my plans, disintegrated. How could I possibly worry about money, there was no amount of budgeting that could fill the gap that an absent spouse left?  How could I worry about the future?  I didn’t feel like I had one any more.  How could I worry about having enough, because I didn’t even really have anything?  There’s an incredible thing that happens when you come to the end of yourself and find yourself in a position where you totally have to rely on God.  I could have chosen to come to this place much sooner, and God would have still reached out His hand in miraculous provision.  As a new visitor to this country, as  a newlywed, as a Mom, I could have release the burden of worry to God and He would have provided just the same.  But I had back up plans, there wasn’t much I couldn’t figure out a plan for.  Even if the plan changed, I could still have faith in that plan.  Do you see the problem?  What happened to my faith in God?  All my faith was in me.  My mind and my mouth confessed to having faith in God, but if you looked at the pressure and stress in my life, you would see that my faith was in myself.  God has provided in so many miraculous ways.

God provided a home for me.  In fact, I’m living quite comfortably at the moment.  I know God has more for me, but I am so thankful for the provision I have now.  Right now I’m sitting in my own home (a rent a duplex, but it’s “mine”), with my own space, nicely decorated, with everything I need.  Over the past 5 years, I spent time being homeless and living with friends.  I have shared a 3 bedroom home with 2 other women and 2 children.  I have lived in someone’s man cave, with one large room and a bathroom.  But here I am, with my own place, perfectly sized for my daughter and I in a great location.  I had a wonderful group of friends provide me with all kinds of furnishings and decorations.

God has provided a vehicle for me.  Actually, He provided 2.  I was driving the truck we owned when my husband left.  He had already sold my car and we were down to one vehicle.    One night he came for the truck I was driving.  It was my only way to get my daughter to day care and myself to work.   God was already on top of it!  I had been offered a Mercedes to drive until I could get my own vehicle.  Several months later, I purchased my own car.  I look back and think perhaps this specific vehicle was another thing I was trying to do on my own.  Within a year the air conditioning went out, and additional repairs were required.  On a single mom income with no child support, I simply didn’t have the money for the repairs.  So I drove around with my windows open, in Texas heat, praying for God to move.  And guess what?  He did!  I have a beautiful vehicle that is roomy and everything works well.  It was given to me by an amazing couple in our church.

God has provided a support network for me.  One thing that happened in the last year of my marriage, is that I became very  isolated.  I believed a lot of lies about how people viewed me and the nature of a lot of my friendships.  I’m so thankful for my amazing friends that stood by and prayed and I grew more and more distant.  I have an amazing network of support.  At work, my boss and other work friends showed so much support and grace.  I changed churches while I as going through the divorce, and was welcomed with open arms by my current church.

God has provided people to believe with me  I know this sounds the same as the last point. But it’s so much more.  Not every friendship is stock full of faith.  Not everyone will believe for great things with you, when things don’t even look mediocre.  These people saw me as strong when I was at my weakest.  They saw me as humble, as I was trying to hide my wounds and wrap them in pride.  They saw me as whole when I was most broken.  They saw who I was in Christ, instead of seeing the heartbroken, struggling woman I was.

God has provided me with time with my daughter.  Aside from the actual pain of the marriage falling apart, the most painful thing for me was losing precious time with my daughter.  Time goes by so fast.  I’ve always appreciated how precious time was.  Here was this miracle child, the one that finally came after 4 miscarriages, and I had to forfeit half of her life.  But God is so amazing!  I have a schedule where I get to spend more time with her than I ever expected.  I get to stay home with her when she is out of school on my possession time.  Talk about an awesome miracle.

God has provided me with an amazing job.  I’m not saying it’s always perfect.  I am saying it’s perfect for me.  I have a good income, and a job I enjoy.

There’s so much more.  Like the time my air conditioner was vandalized, and the repair man charged me 1/3 of what he should have.  Or last Christmas when things were tight and two family members (in-laws) gave me monetary gifts in the exact amounts I needed.  Or even this Christmas, when I sold some items online in record time for MORE than what I posted them for, so I could renovate my daughter’s room.  Or assistance we’ve gotten so that Nadia can participate in some activities she loves.

When you really see God’s heart to provide for you, any kind of worry just seems like a waste of time.  I’m not saying I don’t struggle with it.  I come from a family of worriers, and that seems to be a default setting sometimes.  But every time, I find myself getting pulled toward worrying or self-reliance, I recall all the amazing ways God has already provided.

Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Posted January 20, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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An Open Letter to Ex-Wives   1 comment

Ok, reality check.  You may have read one to many “open letters” to new girlfriends or step moms . . . I certainly have.  They are stock full of beautiful ideals and good intentions.  It’s wonderful that those one in a million kind of relationships exist.  But if you are looking around at your new definition of family and it’s not even close . . . you are in good company.  Now before you start thinking, “if only my child’s step-mom” . . . or “if only my ex” . . . that’s not even close to where I’m going with this.  The reality is life is messy.  People make choices, choices have consequences.  ALL OF US.  If you’re thinking I’m going to go into a soliloquy about how everyone else is to blame for the co-parenting relationship being less than ideal, you might as well just stop reading.  This is for the rest of us imperfect people.

First let me say, I am so sorry.  I know the heartache of divorce.  It literally felt like someone came and ripped my soul into two.  For me, it was excruciating.  I gave everything to my husband, all I had.  I felt like I had nothing left.  A millions pieces shattered, and not a clue how God could possibly put them back together.  I know how it is to pray and believe for a child, and one day your prayers to be answered, only for half of her life to be spent away from you.  I know how it feel to kiss her good-bye as she leaves with a stranger, and someone who was once my best friend, now also a stranger.  So many painful moments, nights spent crying out for God to make everything better, to “fix” things.  It hurts.  Anyone who says it doesn’t is in denial or they’re lying.  Here’s the thing, it doesn’t hurt so much or so often.  Every time I invite God into a splintered part of my heart, He softens and changes me.  There is HOPE.  Will things ever be perfect?  Not as long as you are alive.  I promise you it can be BEAUTIFUL though.

Secondly, “An Open Letter to my Daughter’s Step Mom” isn’t your story.  It’s someone’s beautiful story, but not yours.  You will have your own.  Different details, different characters, different ending.  We all find ourselves in the middle of the story, not the end.  Don’t ever convince yourself it’s the end.  Some of us are on chapter 10 or 11, you may be on chapter 1 or 31.  Regardless, no once can judge you by another person’s story, so neither should you.  I don’t know who the characters in your story, but chances not all the characters in your story are as willing participants in the beautiful story you’re trying to write.  God has an amazing way of using even those characters that are antagonists in your story and weaving them into his incredibly beautiful masterpiece.  I have a few thoughts that may bring you peace or help you in this journey.  They’ve helped me.

This was NOT God’s will.   I’m not sure why, but it seems like we have to fit everything into the category of “God’s will” as part of healing or acceptance.  It was not God’s will for your marriage to disintegrate, and for your children to have a segmented life   “28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.  I rest on that, and so can you.  But you need to know, divorce, step-parents, co-parenting was never God’s will.  I’m not saying you failed or that your situation is hopeless, or that you are to blame.  What I’m saying is that what you’re dealing with was never God’s intention.  Do a search for “covenant” and for “divorce” in the bible.  You will never see a single verse where God says that divorce and remarriage is His ideal.  I’m not arguing divorce and remarriage doctrine, just simply saying that this is not God’s best.  I’m saying there’s a reason that things don’t feel right.  A reason why they hurt.  Convincing yourself that everything that happens in your life is God’s will and therefore you must accept as such will eventually lead you to resent and mistrust a God who ultimately planned such pain for you.  God’s plans are always good.

God has a plan  “28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.” Jeremiah 29:11.  So,  your situation wasn’t God’s plan.  Where does that leave you?  To keep walking out a plan, a life that is less than blessed?  The good news is God has a plan.  Find out what it is!  It often involves love, sacrifice and restoration. I’m not saying life will be the fairy tale you dreamed when you played house as a little girl.  I’m saying you will see true miracles.  In your in relationships, in your heart and in your finances.

God’s plan involves YOU.  There’s a good chance that you have struggled with focusing on what you perceive are the inadequacies of others.  There’s an even greater chance that you often feel powerless in your situation.  Just because you don’t see the solution in a situation, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  God is a creative God.  He parted a sea to deliver the Israelites, caused the sun to stop in the sky to give victory, calmed a storm for terrified disciples.  He was and is the same God and can be in your life if you allow Him.  “I the Lord do not change”  Mal 3:6, “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.”  James 5:7.  Here are some ways you can be an active participant in that plan.

Forgive.  (Matt. 6:14)  You need to know that forgiving doesn’t mean that what others have does is acceptable or right.  It means that you are giving it to God and trusting Him to do the best thing.  It’s unloading your soul of that pain, and your spirit of that bondage.  I think it’s easy to hold on to even the smallest pieces of unforgiveness, because in a way, and it makes it still feel like there’s a connection.  Let it go, and let God fill the empty spots it leaves.  It’s likely you’ll need to forgive yourself.  No one is perfect, and it’s likely you contributed in some way to your failed marriage.  Unload it, give it to God.  You’re dragging around that hurt and bitterness like a huge sack of rocks if you don’t.

Give your dreams to God.  One of the hardest things for me to deal with as an ex-wife and mother was the shattering of so many dreams.  I wanted more children.  I wanted to do ministry together.  I wanted to grow old together.  Those desire are all healthy and good, but life looks so much different now.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire is the tree of life” Proverbs 13:12.  Give every desire you have to God, trust Him, see what it does.  It actually will help with the forgiveness process because you won’t be so busy resenting the other person for those dreams not materializing.

  Stop looking to others to meet needs only God can fill.  When I look back on my marriage, what root sin I found myself repenting for was idolatry.  I looked to my husband to tell me who I was.  I looked to my husband to meet all of my needs.  I looked to my husband to tell me what my purpose was.  All things I should have been looking to God for.  If you don’t deal with these tendencies to run to others for what God wants to give you, you will always feel empty and always be looking to fill that void.  It leaves you vulnerable to jump into the next relationship based on your need, not God’s will.  I’m not just talking about emotional needs, any needs.  It’s easy to be frustrated by the financial situation you find yourself in.  Life looks a lot different when you are a single mother.  But God promises He will meet ALL our needs.  “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Pil 4:19.  He will fill the gaps in your heart and life that seem to be left empty by a failed marriage. “For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” Isaiah 54:5

     Walk in honor.  Most wedding vows contain the promise to honor your spouse until death.  You may think because you are no longer married to this person that you’re “off the hook”.  That’s not true!  We are called to love and honor everyone that is in our lives.  “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. ”  Romans 12:9. If you just cringed at my application of this verse, it’s ok.  It kind of smacked me in the head to when I first read it.  If honor looks like keeping your mouth shut and biting your tongue until it bleeds, then do it!  I’m not perfect in it, but I’m definitely leaning on God for the ability to walk in honor and love in every area of my life.  You may not like this, but that includes his decision to marry someone else.     It doesn’t mean that you are thrilled or even agree, it means that you acknowledge her roll and importance to him and his life and your child’s life.  It means that you don’t intentionally do things to cause division between them.  Your decision to honor WILL affect your children.   Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  Ephesians 6:2.  If you choose not to honor your ex or his new wife, what example are you setting?  How easy are you making it for your child to honor them?

If you have been reading this, thinking that your situation is impossible.  You’re right, in your own strength it is impossible.  If you invite God into your mess, it is completely POSSIBLE.  “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matt
19:26.  Can I tell you this because my life is perfect and my daughters step mom and I go for mani-pedis each weekend?  Not exactly.  In fact, I don’t even have her contact information.  Communication is sparse and limited with my ex, and my daughter is expected to live two different completely disjointed lives.  It’s not easy.  It’s messy.   But I have more peace than ever.  What changed?  ME.   And guess what?  In the middle of it, I have seen God do miracles that I never expected. I’ve seen God do miracles in a difficult schedule and give us extreme favor.  I’ve seen God provide in ways I never expected.  He’s provided for not just needs, but wants as well.  In a difficult situation that is so tied to someone else, it’s easy to feel powerless.  As though they dictate the course of your life.  I love Job’s perspective, in Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  No one can steal or change God’s good purpose and plan for you.  The only way you can miss out on it, is if you forfeit it.  So don’t.   Let God into your mess.  Ask Him the plan.  Let Him decide what your heart and your life should look like, and trust Him that in His time, He will accomplish it.

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Life Lessons From Ballroom   1 comment

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I help “teach” a Kid’s Ballroom Class.  By teach, I mean, I help my very talented friend by wrangling the students while she teaches them some awesome skills!  I actually think a lot of what I do is make the kids feel good about themselves and breed confidence.  By that, I mean that I’m learning at the same time as them, so I make mistakes, have to correct myself and sometimes I just don’t know the answers.  I find so often it comes down to teaching basic life lessons that have nothing to do with choreography, so that they can succeed in Ballroom.  Each class, I walk away being reminded myself of several life lessons.

1.  Attitude is everything

The main expectation of all the students in our class is to “Have a good attitude and try your best”.  Simple, right?  I’m an adult and I’ve been trying to master that skill my whole life.  Some of our students have a natural gift for graceful movement. Others, well, not so much.  Does that mean our “natural dancers” are going to be the best dancers in the class?  Not at all.  It’s amazing what a difference a great attitude and hard work can make.  It really bridges the gap.  There are things that I’m good at, but to be great, I really have to work hard.  It may not come as naturally as the next person, but it doesn’t mean I need to disqualify myself.  Many of the most successful people in their fields are people who were moderately talented, and applied this principle and became leaders in those areas.  In fact, sometimes natural talent can be a bit of a stumbling block.  It’s so tempting to rely on natural ability instead of putting the work in.   “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters . . .”  Colossians 3:23

2. You don’t get to pick who you work with

In our ballroom class, the students are asked to rotate partners several times in the lesson time.  Teacher chooses the partner.  If the child wants to be successful and learn in that moment, they need to adapt to their partner.  It’s vital to work together.  There are several people in my life that I didn’t “pick”.  But there they are, and I have a choice.  I can learn to work with them or have my feet stepped on and my hands squeezed, maybe even fall a time or two.  I can’t control anyone but myself, but I can adapt and accommodate the weaknesses and strengths of those around me.  “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Romans 1:15

3.  The goal is to look like the teacher, not the rest of the class

There are always a few students that excel and will accomplish the basics of a step quicker than the rest.  So what happens?  Other students start looking to them for as an example instead of the teacher.  Students that excel look around and see that they are doing better than the other children and stop practicing.  The goal isn’t to look like the other students in the class.  The goal is look like the teacher.  If we compare our progress with those around us, we will constantly swing from security to insecurity.  Finding your identity in comparison leaves you on shaky ground.  Be honest, how many times have you justified a behavior based on the logic that “well, at least I didn’t . . . like so and so . . . “?  The reality is, I’m not called to look like my friends, like my pastor, like any famous evangelist.  I’m called to look like Christ.  Anything less is missing the mark.  Anything less is sin.  I’m so thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.  He covers my failures, my sin and inadequacies.  I’m righteous because He is righteous.  He is the only one I am to look to for who I am and what I do.   12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12.  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

4.  Always listen for the next step

Our students are so excited to learn, that they will learn a part of a step and dive right in.  Often, they do so before the teacher is done explaining the whole segment.  What we have is a bunch of little dancers doing various portions of a step and never completing it.  Of course, they are correctable, and with some repetition, they are right back on track.  I can’t count the number of times that I have heard from God on something, and rushed forward to do it.  When I think I have it, I just keep going based on what I think is the next step.  After some major detours and even falling flat on my face, I’m learning to stop and listen.  I don’t just want to do what God has asked me to do, I want to do it His way.  I want to do it in His timing and His heart.  Instead of rushing ahead after I know the first step, I’m learning to stop and listen.  I want to hear the next step before I move a muscle.  I’m still learning.  Sometimes like our little dancers, I get excited and try to rush ahead.  He is always gracious to get me back on track.  “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”  Isaiah 42:16

There are so many more lessons that I’m reminded of each week.  I’m excited to watch as these students learn and grow as dancers and as people.  I’m definitely growing the process as well!

Posted January 18, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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Clanging Cymbols   Leave a comment

“13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

I was talking to a friend last week about a step I was taking out of obedience.  I had already decided to be obedient, but didn’t have a very willing attitude.  To be honest it was fear, but I was trying mask it in apathy.  She shot me the portion from 1 Corinthians listed about.  At first, I was a little puzzled, because it didn’t  apply.  Then it hit me, how many things am I doing that are out of obligation or ritual?  With this particular situation, I had allowed fear to completely crowd out the love.  I was being obedient, but where was my heart?  Any area of life my life that isn’t drenched in God’s love is lacking.  In fact, so lacking that it means nothing.  Even my obedience, if it’s not motivated by love and implemented by love, it’s completely worthless.  I deal with financials and billing as a career.  So much of what I do, doesn’t seem to impact the world in any great way.  It’s necessary, but ultimately, in light of eternity, where is the meaning?  If anything in my life without love is “nothing”, than anything that is full of love in my life is at the very least SOMETHING. How much of  my life is full of nothings, that could be something, if I just invited God’s love into it?  Instead of it being full of the “have to”s, maybe it will shift even the mundane things into “want to”s.  In the light of God’s love, I may even find there are some things that need to be gone from my completely.  What things are you doing in your life, that are void of God’s love?  Have you asked Him into that area?  A relationship, as task, and plan, a behavior . . . I want God to completely soak every area of my life and heart in his love.  Anything else is just waste, nothing.

Posted January 17, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

Shine   Leave a comment

“If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16 The Message

Hiding.  It’s been a classic human response of self-protection since the beginning of time.   Every hurt and disappointment . . . another layer of self protection.  Abuse as a child . . . layer . . . wanting to fit in . . . layer . . . disappointment . . . layer . . . miscarriages . . . layer . . .  betrayal . . . layer . . . divorce . . . layer.  Don’t get me wrong, in every moment, God was always there, showing Himself.  I just didn’t see the invisible layers I was building up “just in case” God didn’t come through.  I know, not very spiritual, right?  Just hiding in fear.  I’ve decided enough is enough.  Self-protecting is EXHAUSTING.   It’s a daily choice to be brave, to not hide, to trust God, TO SHINE.

If I were totally honest, I would admit, that at times there is almost a fear that God will expose my weaknesses, that I will find myself “naked and ashamed” . . . stuck in one of those dreams where you show up at work in your underwear.  I know I’m not alone.   I look at the first instance that man felt shame and hid, He was hiding from God.  I’ve always focused on what man should have done differently, what can I learn from the mistakes of others.  I missed it until now.   Imagine, Adam and Even have sinned.  They realize they are naked and they feel the burn of shame for the very first time in all of history.  They are collecting fig leaves to hide a shame that cannot be hidden . . . by make-up, by the right clothes, by a successful job.  Fig leaves.  What are your fig leaves?  Is it working?  For me, not for a second.   I’ve always focused on the curses and the checklist of things Adam and Eve have done wrong, talk about missing the heart of God.  “21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”. Genesis 3:21 NIV.  You don’t see God ripping those fig leaves from the disobedient pair, exposing them, shaming them.  God didn’t do that.   He covered.  He protected.  Even when they didn’t deserve it.

What a secure place to make an even riskier choice! The choice  to SHINE.  To be open, to be vulnerable, to be transparent.  Terrifying, unless you believe God that He won’t leave you exposed.  And He won’t.  Think of all the reasons God could have exposed Jerusalem . . . the unfaithfulness and idolatry . . . but listen to God’s heart.  “Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.” Zechariah 2:4b-5.  I can feel secure because GOD HIMSELF is protecting me.  HE is the wall around me.  Any other wall I build in self-protection is, at it’s root, idolatry; looking to something else to provide to me what God has clearly promised.  But God doesn’t stop at protecting us.  He is the very light that will shine from us.  How amazing that HE is the glory inside me.  Those days that I feel full of any kind of darkness . . . frustration, disappointment, fear . . .I can trust that in reality, God has filled me with His glory.   I am His, I am His temple (1 Cor 6:19).  I’ve realized that the best way to shine, is to be so full of God that He crowds any darkness out.  The more I look at God’s glory and God’s goodness, the more I reflect it.

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV

Posted January 12, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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