encouragement, Faith, God's Beauty, Homeschooling, Loss, My Walk, Parenting, Relationships, Wisdom

Father’s Day and Healing

Three days ago we scattered my father’s ashes in the Puget Sound. A place he’d always loved. The week leading up to the memorial was rough and emotions ran high with everyone. I wanted nothing more than to forget about the whole thing and keep my father’s ashes on my shelf, because as soon as they were removed from their place of honor, lonliness enveloped me. He’d been there since February, a constant companion in my home. It was time to let him go, but I wasn’t sure I was ready.

At the approximate time the sun would have been setting, had the rain not decided to join our tears, we said a final goodbye to the man who had taught us so many things. There was laughter amidst the inappropriate humor my father was so used to from my sister Rae, and me. As she shared her memories, it occured to me that my father was a wonderfully flawed person. He swore, he drank, he was selfish, and was always impatient. I realized much of my personality came from him. Many of my strengths and many of my weaknesses were nurtured and ingrained at his knee. My father made many mistakes in his life, but one thing he did that wasn’t a mistake, was loving his children inspite of our differences, and sometimes because of them.

With that knowledge, it was important to remind myself that we all grieve differently, and that emotions are strong factors in the way we react to situations. That night wasn’t about who we were, it was about who he was. There was no right or wrong way to memorialize him. Whether it was drinking a bottle of wine in his memory as the rain poured down, or closing off from others and holding inside whatever emotion was burning the heart. We needed to set aside our various differences, ignore the typical family dynamic and just be there for one last moment with the man who had raised us in the only way he knew how.

After the others left, I sat on the bench beside the water with my dear friend. We watched otters play in the current, and I cried. Big, ugly, body wracking tears. For months there had been a pain inside my heart that couldn’t seem to heal. It was like a splinter left just beneath the surface, and it was festering as the days went on. I didn’t realize it, even as I sat there, that the healing had finally began. For the months since my father passed, I was in a holding pattern, not really grieving, but not really healing either.

Three days before Father’s Day, the proverbial splinter was finally removed, the wound cleaned, and my body and soul could really begin to heal.

When Sunday arrived I was leary of attending church. It was my first Father’s Day without my Dad. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was concerned I’d break down and not be able to stop. In fact, I almost decided not to go, to stay home and be safe from the emotions, smiles, and warm wishes of others.

Instead, I prayed.

Then I put on my big girl pants and joined my family in church.

It was a wonderful day. The words were exactly what I needed to hear, and my heart didn’t ache. For the first time in months I didn’t feel like I would get blown away in a stiff breeze, or shatter like glass. I felt free. With the scattering of my Father’s ashes, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. My Father is truly at peace now, and even though I might not be completely there yet, I am on my way. My heart is light and I am filled with the Joy of the Holy Spirit.

Life moves on and changes, much like the tides of the sea.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy and may you forever be at rest in the place you loved best.

Sare

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college, Crafting, debt, education, encouragement, Faith, Homeschooling, journalism, My Walk, Working

Changes in Life

Each new day that dawns brings changes, whether we notice these changes or not doesn’t make them less important. Not every change is HUGE. Not every change makes you stand up and take notice.

Every once in a while, though, a change (or even several) will occur that makes a HUGE and noticeable difference in your life. This year has already been a year of changes, and not all of them have been positive in their nature, even if they have led to positive things.

While each of these major life changes are important to who I am as a person, some of them deserve their own blog post, so I won’t include them here. Today, though, I want to focus on two things that have added a positive spin to my chaotic life.

Not long ago my husband and I contemplated purchasing a home, but as we began the process we quickly realized my student loans were going to be a huge (like $72,000 huge) hurdle. This led to our first aha moment. Even though this wasn’t really a positive thing for us, and it was a huge  disappointment, it came to be a huge blessing.

I started praying for something to come up that would help me use my soon to be finished degree and help me to pay down the student loans before they’re due.

This led to wonderful change number one.

A wonderful opportunity to help service members, veterans, and their spouses was introduced to me, and I have been able to join the team as a freelance writer; creating professional resumes and bios for these members as they transition to life in the civilian world. It has already proved to be exciting, educational, and although not exactly what I had expected, is pretty perfect for me.

The second amazing change to occur happened by chance. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw an announcement about Usborne Books and More. I’d heard of them in passing before, but had never really taken the time to look into them. This time, it felt like there was a tap on my shoulder nudging me to check it out.

It didn’t take me long to realize this was something I could truly get behind. As a book worm with a family of avid readers, I’ve always been a huge proponent of engaging children and adults with good books instead of video games. Joining the Usborne Books and More team definitely fits well with my family. I’m excited that these opportunities came just when I needed them to, and I’m so thankful to have the ability to remain home with my children while I work toward paying off those student loans.

encouragement, Faith, Fellowship, God's Beauty, Husband, Marriage, Relationships, volunteering, Wisdom

God’s Work in My Family

Since the day I got down on my knees and asked Jesus to guide me through this life, to save me from the person I’d become, and to fill me with his Holy and loving Spirit, I’ve seen my life change before my eyes. Some days are easier than others, but each day brings me closer to His presence.

It doesn’t end there, though. I’ve seen His work in others in my family as well. I’ve seen it in the way my daughter is growing; always thinking of others who might not have the things she does. She always searches for ways to be of help, either to me, her brother, or a little kid at the park who seems lonely.

God isn’t just working in her life. He’s working in the heart of my husband as well. In the beginning he went to church, because it was what I wanted to do, and he wanted to be there for me. He didn’t care which church we went to, and would have preferred if I’d chosen a Catholic church. I didn’t, and I don’t ever regret that decision.

He has become a different person. He no longer attends church just because I want to. In fact on those days when I’ve become too overwhelmed by people and desperately want to stay home and spend solitary time with the LORD, he’ll motivate me to get dressed and go (sometimes even he can’t get me to go for fellowship, because sometimes I just need the silence and the personal time with my Bible and the LORD).

Recently, I feel God placed in his heart something I never could have on my own. My husband felt called to volunteer, and he looked into opportunities and found the one that he felt in his heart the LORD was leading him to. On Monday night he spent time at a men’s home helping with dinner, and spending time getting to know the men living there. He came home tired but filled with a new light. I look forward to the changes the LORD brings to my family and myself.

Praise the LORD!

education, Fellowship, Homeschooling, Parenting, The Kiddos, Wisdom

Why I’m Saying ‘No’.

When people hear about homeschool, they tend to ask the question that every homeschooling parent rolls his or her eyes at. “What about socialization?”

Let me put this in perspective for you. First, as the saying goes, “I’ve seen the village, and I don’t want it raising my children.” Second, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know I find true discomfort being ‘social’. You also know that I ignore that idiosyncrasy for my children’s benefit.

Obviously we're an un-socialized family.
Obviously we’re an un-socialized family.

My children, but especially my seven year old daughter, have no shortage of socialization. They’re social with children at church, at Awana, at our local homeschool meet-up, and at various play dates. They interact regularly with both children younger and older than they are, as well as adults.

People who have never educated their children at home have a hard time understanding just how many possibilities there are to make sure children get adequate time with others. In fact, sometimes there are just too many possibilities. There is such a thing as too much socializing. Not just for the moms, like me, who find socializing to be more exhausting than manual labor, but for the children as well.

God has called us, as parents, to raise our children, to teach them, and to train them. While that does include spending time running around outside, or playing “Narnia” (feel free to insert whatever imaginary game your children currently find interesting–this seems to be my daughter’s favorite this month) make-believe with friends, that isn’t the only thing. We need to spend time together at home. Our children need to see what it means to be a family. This includes responsibilities,like chores and actual school work. After all, those bathrooms don’t clean themselves.

Normally, we don’t have a problem balancing socialization with our at home studies. Keyword there is normally. This week is anything but normal. In fact this is a week where socialization is threatening to take over our lives. With that in mind I think a cave far away from people sounds delightful. This is where the sometimes magical word, ‘no’ comes in. For both my want of a cave (no, Sare, you can’t run away to a cave), and for adding anything else to our already packed plate.

It’s okay to say no.

In fact, children whose parents say no don’t appear to grow up with extra arms or an uncontrollable need to brush their hair with eating utensils (I’m looking at you, Ariel). At least, not that I’ve ever seen.

Repeat after me: It’s okay to say no.

You’re not a bad parent if you do. Ignore that guilt. Your children will survive if they don’t get to hangout with Susie Q tomorrow. Especially if she already hung out with two other friends this week. Children need downtime as much as they need socialization. Sometimes, I think they need it more.

I’m saying no, because there is so much on our schedule this week we haven’t had a chance to enjoy each other. All our time together feels rushed. We ARE rushed. I homeschool my children, because I want them to have every opportunity to excel and to thrive. I don’t believe a person can really thrive when they are so busy they don’t have a chance to breathe, or process what they’ve already done.

So, I’m choosing to embrace the word no, and I’ve decided I will not feel guilty about it.

At least not too guilty.

In what ways have you embraced ‘no’?

Sare

God's Beauty, My Walk, Uncategorized

God’s Garden

I view my relationship with God much the way I imagine the relationship between a gardener and their beautiful garden. I say imagine, because honestly most of my life I’ve had a black thumb and couldn’t keep a cactus alive. Recently though, I’ve managed to care for a bamboo plant and an aloe plant. Much to my joy and amazement they’re both thriving. I see these plants as a direct representation of my growth with the LORD. The more I grow and thrive, the more my plants seem to as well.

image

Now, I’m assuming any good gardener would know something about pruning their flowers (I haven’t gotten to this stage with my own plants, and I probably should since the Aloe has multiplied and outgrown its home). As a glorious and blooming flower in God’s garden, I’ve been pruned on several occasions. Many of those times I didn’t even realize happened until much later. A few of them, however, were painful.

When I was in high school, I had my whole life planned out to the very last detail. There was no question in my mind about who I was, where I was going, and who I would be in the future.

Do I even need to say that God was in no way involved with these plans? No, I didn’t think so.

I joined the National Guard at seventeen with the intention of the U.S. government paying my way to a degree in Criminal Justice. I was going to be the youngest homicide detective in the Los Angeles Police Department, and I was going to make a difference in the world.

Fast forward a dozen or so years to this moment, and laugh with me.

Between the year 2000 and 2015 the LORD did some serious pruning to this little flower. Not only did the National Guard and I part ways early on, but so did my plans of being a homicide detective (let alone the youngest one). Not only did God cut away those plans, but he made a few more snips to dreams and experiences that at seventeen I hadn’t even thought of.

When I was in my early twenties my high school sweetheart and I divorced in a less than amicable fashion. Snip. Before I had time to truly come to grips with the knowledge that I had become a statistic, I was devastated by the loss of my son. Snip. This was a turning point in my life. A turning point that at the time looked like it was leading me down a dark and dangerous path. Snip. Snip.

People grieve in different ways. Some turn to God, some turn to counseling, and some turn to other more destructive means.

I was the latter.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” Isaiah 30:15-18

Looking back at my choices brings me powerful guilt and shame. It makes me wonder how God could ever have forgiven me, or for that matter how those choices shaped me into the person I am today.

The answer is easy to know, but not always easy to accept.

God loves me (and each and every one of you). All those painful moments, those late nights, those heartaches, and bad choices; the destructive actions, the selfishness and bitterness, the hate and anger, and the reveling in sin and discord those were little bits of me that needed to be snipped away so I could grow into a healthy, happy, and God-honoring woman.

“How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Although the LORD gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!'” Isaiah 30:19-22

I’m not a homicide detective, the U.S. government didn’t pay for my degree (in fact I’m not quite finished with my Journalism degree yet, and it’s likely I’ll be paying it off until my children graduate college), I don’t live in Los Angeles, nor do I have any desire to EVER live there, unless that is where the LORD sends me; and if I’m making a difference in the world it is through the raising of my children to be good people who love the LORD and help those who need help.

Every day God continues to prune me. Each day I grow a little brighter, a little healthier, and a little stronger, because the LORD is snipping away the old parts to make room for new growth. I am a beautiful flower in the LORD’s garden, and I wouldn’t wish it any other way.

In what ways has God shaped you?

May the LORD bless you,

Sare

Fellowship, In the Beginning, My One Word, My Walk

My One Word: Fellowship.

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

Our LORD is amazing and He works in ways we couldn’t begin to imagine. He has a plan for my life, and even though I’m not sure yet what that plan is, I know it will be amazing.

When I first chose FELLOWSHIP as my word for this year, I didn’t know what it would mean. Honestly, I’m still not one-hundred percent sure what it means or what it will mean at the end of 2015. What I do know is that I’m already seeing evidence of God’s work on me through it.

My husband and I have been attending our church since the first Sunday we were in town–so just over a year now. Our church has an active military group who meet twice a month for fellowship and study. During the last year I’ve interacted with most of the people in this group, yet never once was I aware of the FELLOWSHIP that was available. Then, this past Sunday, my husband and I were invited to join the others.

It was TIME.

A month ago, I probably wouldn’t have been open and receptive to the invitation. It was socializing, and what was even more deterring, it was socializing with other military families. Something I’ve been known to shy away from, because of a number of bad experiences in the past.

This week, my heart was open and waiting. I heard the voice inside whisper, “This is for you. Say yes.”

On Monday my husband and I, along with our two children went to our first small group fellowship, and in so many ways it was right. It filled my cup with laughter and joy. We discussed upcoming studies, and it was refreshing to know others going through the same things I was.

After an emotionally draining day, God knew exactly what I would need. He opened a door for me, and I walked through it. I can’t wait for what He’ll teach me through this experience with FELLOWSHIP.

Do you have a particular moment of Fellowship that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it.

Prayers to you and yours,

Sare

Faith, My Walk, Parenting, The Kiddos

Loss

On December 30, a dear friend of my niece’s went home to the LORD. She was a young woman with plans and dreams. She was a new mom with a little boy about the same age as my own son. Her loss was as unexpected to her family as it was to my niece. Although I didn’t know her personally I’d like to take a moment to pray for those affected by her loss.

Please, join me in praying for her family and loved ones.

Heavenly Father,

May her family and loved ones find peace in Your Greatness. May their hearts be filled with happy memories of her love and laughter. May her son grow up hearing wonderful stories of her love for him. LORD I ask that you comfort her family and friends while they grieve and help them to find solid ground once again.

Amen.

Sare