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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

Posted January 31, 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.

wedding IMG_0090

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