Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CHRISTmas is Upon Us

It is hard to believe that we are in December already! The tree is up, the lights are lit up, the stockings are hung. Shopping is almost done, lists are made, plans are set and life is crazy. WAIT STOP!! What is this all for?! JESUS! But why all the other stuff?!?

Okay lets take a look at the history behind Christmas. The first recorded date that Christmas was celebrated on December 25th was in 337 AD. In 336 AD Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity (he was the first Christian Emperor).Then a year after, Pope Julius I declared the birth of Jesus to be held on December 25th. 

We have no exact date of when Jesus was born, but some believe that Mary was told that she was the chosen one and that she would bear the child of God on March 25th nine months later is December 25th. Some also believe that we celebrate it on this date as Winter Solstice was held around this date, so they wanted to take this celebration and make it a day to celebrate the birth of our Lord. 

What about Santa Claus? Why? Here is a little back story on St. Nicolas.. It all started with a man named Nicholas. Nicholas grew up in Asia Minor (now known as Turkey), He grew up as a devout christian, his parents taught him to love people and God. When he was a teen his parents died and left him with a large amount of money. Living his life by the Lord and obeying his words"sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. Nicolas became a bishop of Myra and was well known around Myra for his generosity. 

As a bishop he wore a red coat with white fur and a red hat. He was also an older man with a white beard.... See how that image comes to play. 

When he got older he heard of this family with three girls who didn't have enough money for a dowery (to marry off the girls). If they didn't get married they would most likely end up in slavery. He went to their home on three different days and tossed a bag of coins into the window; some say the bag of money ended up in the girls stockings hanging by the fire drying out. People heard of this and anytime they recieved a secret gift, they assumed it was Nicolas. Do to his good deeds he was given the title of a Saint. 

There is a day of celebration for St. Nicolas which is on December 6th. This is the day St. Nicolas actually died and so it is a celebration of his life. This is a great way to share this remarkable story of a man who lived his life fully to serve the Lord and to help others. 

This is great information to explain Santa Claus to children, and why he does what he does. In our home we do have Santa come and visit we talk about St. Nicolas and how his name came to be known as Santa Claus. How he gives to little boys and girl a gifts, food and or money. But we also talk about how we should emulate St. Nicolas, and work for the Lord every day. So we really focus on giving back through out the year; especially during the holiday season, this allows us to share Gods love to those in need. 

Christmas Tree? Well this dates back to Egyptian times. They worshipped evergreen trees, when winter solstice came they would take the palm leaves to symbolize that life trumps death. The tree was originally a pagen symbol but was adapted into the christian celebration of Jesus for Christmas. The reason behind the Evergreen Tree is because it stays a live and vibrant all year long, it doesn't die, or go into hibernation a lot like the love of Jesus Christ. 

Lets get to it... There are a lot of things that have been added through out the years to Christmas. Most of which is commercialized, I agree that a good portion of it is ridiculous, but I also know my kids love some of this. I also know that my kids know the true meaning of Christmas and that we are to give more and not take. Be happy with what we have and to live a life for our Lord. Jesus is the reason for the season, whether adapted or not. Everyone deserves a birthday party and Jesus is no different. Jesus was Born of the virgin Mary, that is a big deal! We may not know the exact date or year of that birth but we know he was born. So celebrate him this year, celebrate the Savior who came walked among man, sacrificed his life for our sins, died on the cross and rose again from the dead. How amazing is that?!? Enjoy this large celebration of lights, trees, carols, stories, and gift giving. Its the biggest birthday party of the year!

God bless and Merry Christmas! 

My Feet Firmly Planted... Gaze At The Stars.

I often want to take it all on.  I want to be the best at everything, push myself to success and of course never say "No". This is just out right crazy! What am I thinking? I can not be the best at everything, I am not perfect last I checked there is only one who is perfect; and that is not me. God is my shepherd and I will continue to do my best to live my life in his image, but the fact is I will fail time and time again. Frankly that is ok!

Over the past few months this revelation has come very clear to me. I have failed over and over again with my kids, my marriage, my jobs ect. Today I came home from our Community Day and I looked around in (lets be frank) disgust. My house is a mess, I had nothing planned for dinner, laundry has taken over my bed (and tonight I will more then likely push it all to the side and climb in). But I have realized that yes keeping a clean house is kinda important, dinner is very important and putting laundry away is well overrated. Non the less they are all things that are on my long list of things to do in a day. My kids are great and keeping up with their chores and are eggar to help but this week we are saying forget about it.

I am taking steps back from work, I am shifting my focus and changing my tone. I am living life with my feet firmly planted on the ground. I don't need to live a life of YES all the time, or one where I do it all. If someone offers to help me out I will take them up on that offer 99% of the time, because I know I can not do it all alone. I get these grand ideas of all the things we (my family) will get done in a year. Then when week 12 comes (this week) I take a look at that and go OH NO!!! We didn't get half this stuff done! I have failed my kids, my husband, my community, my family! Then I listen to my kids talk about things they have learned, share with others the things they have been doing. That is when I realize my feet where not firmly planted on the ground when I was writing up those lesson plans, I was shooting for the stars. The stars are for gazing not for catching.

My life is crazy, loud, messy, and it does not follow my lesson plans; stupid life! Just kidding this life is perfect and written down in Gods life plan for us. I do not have to follow my lesson plans, or work to be perfect. I just have to work at living out the life that God has planned and do my best at walking in Gods Image.

So know that you do not have to say "Yes" all the time, saying "No" is healthy so practice saying it. Live a life that brings you piece and happiness. Walk the path that God has laid out for you. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, just gaze at those stars you do not have to catch them.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Classical Conversations

I can not believe that I have not had single blog post this year, and about this amazing journey we have been on with Classical Conversations. We are already coming up on week 12 of our first year with CC, and what an amazing year it has been!

Homeschooling has not been the most easy adventure we have been on but it has been the most rewarding. Classical Conversations has been a true blessing and I am so happy that we decided to go this route. Last year Ace was in a private preschool and Jae was homeschooled half the year with cyber school and the second half was traditional homeschool. It was a year with many tears, and a lot of frustration as we tried to figure it out. This did not discourage us though, it pushed us to find the right path; and we did! We decided that this year we would pull Ace out of preschool as we felt this was not working for him as he really was not getting the attention he needed as he was in a LARGE class (18 kids aged 3yrs old). We kept Jae out of the school system and looked in to CC for both of them. We truly could not be happier with our decision.

CC has been a staple in our house hold for education, and getting to see how much my kids have grown and how much they have learned is jaw dropping amazing. For example yesterday we were reading the story of St. Nicolas and in the story they talked about Turkey and Constantinople both kids got really excited and wanted to show me on the map where these to places are. As we kept reading we came across the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian, the persecution of Christians; as well as the Council of Nicaea, all of which they know about! Mind you they are 4 and 6.5 years old!! Then as we read the story of the birth of Jesus during our advent reading Caesar Augustus and both kids yelled "hey we know him!" How amazing is this? I know that this will just keep getting better and their light bulb moments will become more frequent as their education with CC continues.

This is beautiful classical learning style that has been a blessing to my family, I look forward to our on going adventure with CC.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Its a Genocide

Our world has really gone through many hardships these past few days. We have been brought to our knees with tears rolling down our faces asking WHY?! Why has this happened? Why is it continuing to happen? What can we do to put an end to all this?

Just in the past week alone we have seen Beirut attacked by suicide bombers which killed 43 and wounded 239. Then there was Paris they lost at least 129 and wounded hounders more. ISIS takes claim of these attacks, they are proud of what they have done and they plan to do much more. My heart aches for those who lost their lives to such a horrific senseless act. My heart aches for the families of those who lost their lives.

This is much more then these two attacks. This is much greater; this is a genocide! Roughly 170,000 people have been killed by ISIS. Mostly Christians and Shiites, in Iraq alone! This is also in a little over a year time frame. Why are we not focused more on this? Why are we not trying to find a solution or an end to this?

There are Americans, Frenchmen, Germans, Dutchmen, Venezuelans, Trinidadians, and Russians all participating with ISIS. They are going over to Syria being trained on how to hate and kill and then being sent on their way. This is very scary to me as we know for a fact that their are ISIS extremist walking amongst us here on american soil. We know of camps all across America that house ISIS members. Yet here we are not doing a thing, here we are watching the news about what dumb thing Trump will say next, or what Obama WON'T do for the American people. We sit here and worry about racial discrimination, the war on gender equality (all of which are valid issues but we are making them issues). What is really going on here is smoke and mirrors. Whats really going on here is we are losing it people, we are losing control of OUR country and of GODS world! 

What are we going to do about the issues at hand? Well first thing is PRAY, like really get on your news and pray. Because we can not do this alone, we need guidance, we need strength and we need God. Next is so rare those ISIS camps and get these people locked away, they are a threat to this country and lives of everyone living here. Then we need to close up our boarders, lock them up tight. After they are locked up we will have to deport those who are here illegally. Sorry folks there is a right way into the country feel free to come in through the front door and you are welcome to stay. Keep an eye on this population clock to see how many DOCUMENTED people there are in our country. Then we need to continue to protect America and our allies, we can't sit back and just say its not our fight to fight because it is! 

Life is precious and innocent people are being killed because of their beliefs. Maybe its time we start acting like it. 


Friday, November 6, 2015

Being a Christian and Celebrating Halloween

Another halloween in the bag. It was fun filled with laughter and good times with friends. The holidays are upon us and with that comes many different opinions and shaming. We are a family of Christian and we love to celebrate holidays as we see fit. I for one do not feel like everyone should do holidays the same nor will I shame you for doing them how you see fit. I know in the world of Christian views this is not always the case. This post is going to focus on Halloween...

So the other day as I sat down for my coffee and catching up with my newsfeed I came across this post that had great points regarding halloween and I respect this persons stance on not participating in halloween. However it was also a post about how trick-or-treating was laced with all sorts of poisons and that it makes them sick to see Christ followers participate in this evil holiday. Ok, I took the bait and I dove in.

Lets do some history on this festive holiday...
Halloween originated about 2,000 years ago in modern day Ireland. It was called the Celtic festival of Samhain. It marked the end of summer, and the harvest, and the beginning of the dark, cold winters, a time of the year that was associated with many human deaths. Celts believed that the night before their new year (November 1st) the lines between the living and the dead became blurred. So on that night (October 31st) they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. They believed that they caused damage to crops and stirred up trouble. They also believed that their presences helped the Druids, or Celtic priests make predictions about the future; which brought comfort to those who depended on the volatile natural world during the long dark winters.

To commemorate this event they would wear costumes (typically consisting of animal heads and skins), and attempt to tell each other's fortunes all while having a sacred bonfires where people would gather and burn crops and sacrifice animals to the Celtic deities. When the celebration was over they would take the fire from the sacred bonfire and re-light their hearth fires to protect them during the coming winter.

Fast-Forward to 630 A.D when Pop Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of all Martyrs Day was established in the western church on May 13th. Later Pope Gregory III expanded the festival to include all saints as well as al martyrs and moved the observance from May 13th to November 1st. By 1000 A.D the church would make November 2nd All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It is believed that that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, dressing in costumes as saints, angles and devils. All Saints Day was also called All-Hallows (November 1st) and the night before was called All-Hallows Eve which eventually became Halloween.

Halloween comes to America: during the second half of the 19th century Englanders who fled to America brought this tradition along with them. As new immigrants came to America the tradition grew; Americans began dressing up and going door to door asking for food and money which has transformed into modern day trick-or treating. The tricks part came from young women believing that on halloween they could divine the name or the appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirror; also known as witch craft.

In the late 1800's Americans made a move to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborhood gathering then about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft. At the turn of the century Halloween parties for families, children and adults became a way to celebrate the day. These celebrations were geared around games, seasonal foods, and festive, fun costumes. Community leaders urged citizens to remove the "frightening" or "grotesque" out of halloween celebrations. Do to these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religions overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

With that being said this holiday is one that has been linked to superstitions, mystery, and magic. But we tend to forget the origin of this holiday, the part were these rituals focused on the future and not the past and the living not the dead. Women looking for a husband and reassuring them they would not be alone.  The part where the would ward off death and famine but using the fire from their ritual to light their hearths and the poor would go door to door asking for seasonal foods and the families would give them "soul cakes" in return the poor would pray for their families who have passed. This evolved into children going door to door asking for food and money for their families which is now trick-or-treating.

I for one can look at the history and see the glory in this holiday. I see the true history as not holding any satanic meaning. I see the true history of it and see that people where doing what they felt, and believed was the way to stay alive. I see the true history, and see that we as Americans have it all wrong! Is there satanic links to Halloween? YES! Are their awful witch-craft rituals that have been performed? YES! However that is not the true meaning of this holiday, that is not why this holiday exists. This holiday exists so lost souls can find their way home, so the poor can get food and money, so they can celebrate life, so they can gather together and ward off evil not ask for evil to join them. The witch-craft that was preformed originally was to find a husband for young women. This had evolved into what we know of today (modernized witch-craft).

So here is the point of this post... the point is that YES my kids dress up and go trick-or-treating, yes we carve pumpkins, yes we enjoy Halloween. No we do not talk about the "made up reason" for this holiday. But as my kids get older I will share with them the true meaning of this holiday and why we celebrate it today. I for one find it to have a great historical backing and has turned into a beautiful time for our family. We gather with friends, enjoy a meal together, pray together, talk about Christ, enjoy the company we are surrounded with, get dressed up and spend an hour (or less) trick-or- treating. I respect your decision to not go trick-or-treating so please respect mine. I am pretty sure God will not close the door in my face or my children's faces for doing so. As he would not in yours for not doing so.

Our home is filled with the Lord, we read the bible, listen to Christian music, talk to and about God on a regular basis, do Bible studies and live our lives as we see fit for our Lord. How were do it may be different from how you do it. But we can all agree God is the only one we have to answer to, right?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

All this newness!

Well this year has been a year of newness. The newness just doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. I am ok with that, but I am also ready to be on a steady road.  There is something to be said about a steady pace, a schedule, a routine.  I know it will happen we just have to get all the wrinkles ironed out.

Not only is this the first year that both of my kids are in school. My baby boy is in SCHOOL! I am not sure I can handle that. HA. He likes learning he just doesn't like being away form his momma and sissy. He is doing wonderful and I am so proud of him. Not going to lie it makes me sad when he goes to school but structure is so needed!

For Jae we began the year off with online "homeschooling". Right from the get go I knew it was all wrong. So many things had changed from the time I sat down and decided on this program, and not good changes. I had lost all control over my child's education and for me that was not what I wanted at all. We had an amazing teacher however. She worked with me and allowed J and I to work at the path that was right for her. This made it a lot easier for us to stay put. Well she made the decision one I couldn't disagree with her on to leave. This put us with a teacher that I really am not a fan of. One who has spoken to me as though I am a child and that I don't know anything. This has pushed me to the full decision to pull her out of cyber school. So on to the new newness in our life....

We have submitted our forms and letter of intent to homeschool. This I know is the perfect decision for our family. Jae is so excited to get started on her studies and really learn things and learn from mom and dad. This will open us up to so much more options and allow us to get connected with more homeschoolers.

Newness keeps you on your toes right? haha

Friday, January 23, 2015

Life and Death

Life is sweet, life is unpredictable, life is short.
We rush; rush to grow up, rush to fall in love, rush to have kids, rush from here to there. We rush through life, oh short sweet life. Why? Why don't we slow down and enjoy each second of our life. We never know when it will be our last moment with those we love. Slow down, stop rushing!

No life is more important then another, no life is more precious then someone else's. I know (through a mutual friend) a little amazing boy. He lived a very short but very powerful life. He came into this world and lived 10 short days. He may have never spoken a word but his little life spoke volumes. It taught many about life, Gods will, strength and love. Thank you to his family for sharing him with so many.
The summer between 6th and 7th grade a boy I loved died in a four wheel accident. He was a child of God, I couldn't understand why he was taken at such a young age. I can't answer that question but I can say he was an old soul. He loved with every ounce of his being, he loved to play bingo with his grandma, card games with his grandpa, he would climb in his sisters playpen and play with her. He was giving and full of life every second of his short time here.
My grandparents where my rock, I was my poppy's little princess and my mommers thorn in her side. They both where taken from me very early on in my life. I miss them every day, pray they are proud of the women I have become and angry that they weren't body present at the big milestones in my life.
Many students I went to school with died in horrific car accidents, overdoses and suicide.
None of these lives are more precious then the other, there death aren't anymore dignified, no death is more acceptable then the other. Each one is truly tragic and heart wrenching, each one brings many questions to the surface, each one leaves us with tears rolling down our face, each one leaves the family paralyzed with sadness, pain, and loss.

As I write this I have tears rolling down my face as I remember each of these amazing lives and tragic deaths. As I write this I am left with another death, one I don't understand, one I can't comprehend. One again happened and I wish it was just an awful nightmare and that I will wake up and see him standing there with his big goofy smile.

I will tell you this 26year old young man was a joy, he was full of life, possibility, talent and love. Yes he had his struggles and demons; He was an addict. This doesn't make him any less important, this doesn't make his death justified, this doesn't make the pain disappear. He had been 2 years off heroin, the devils drug. Something happened and the devil got his hands on him again. He allowed himself to slip. He lost his life to a drug that he hated, that had taken him to hell and back to many times. He left behind his mom and dad, his sister (who was his ultimate best friend) his girl friend and her daughter, not to mention many other family members who loved him and friends who will miss him.
This boy was a friend for 15+ years. Someone I knew from the time he was in 8th grade. A boy I sat and held the hand of while he cried because he didn't want to screw up again, a boy I took a phone away from because he was scared if he held onto it a second longer he would go to those who texted him and called him, those who wanted him to get together and "celebrate" his "release" from rehab with getting high again. Really?!? Those people aren't friends, those are people who are going down and don't want to do it alone. He made a mistake.    (Note I blame no one for this. He made his own decision)  Here are a few sections from one of his poems
Love/Hate Relationship
"...I’ve got to stop living this way
If I want to make it past 30
I’ve got nothing at all left to say
My life gone, one rig that’s dirty
I love you too much to die on you..." 
"...Lying in a casket, up on a shelf
In line to say goodbye and pray
Jails, institutions and death
Is on the road I'm headin"
"...When will I ever learn
That I'm better than this
Its none of your concern
Because it wont be me you’ll miss.."
The hard part is that this became his reality. He didn't make it to 30, he died on us. Now we have to stand in a line and say our goodbyes. He was so much better then this, he didn't deserve a life of addiction.... NO ONE DOES! Yes we will miss YOU. 
I just wish he would have seen this. I wish he would have turned to God in the darkest of times and found the path he had in store for him. Instead of following the devil down this dark road. 
I know that I will see you again, I know we had talked in great detail about a higher being, about God and about life after death. I know we will be reunited at some point. Until then I will never stop loving or thinking about you. 

Each person in this post lived a very specific life, each different, each different in length, each died in a different way. Death from a very rare disease, heart disease, kidney failure, accidents and overdose. Each person made an impact, each person touched lives. Each death brings sadness, questions, pain and numbness. No life is better then another and No death is more tragic, or justified then another. 

I don't know why these lives have come to an end so early. I don't know why these people died in the way they did. All I know is that God has a plan for us, we just have to choose to get on for the ride. 

Addiction is a very serious thing. It is nothing to shrug your shoulders at, or turn your back on. We need to fight back. If you know someone who is battling an addiction please talk to them, get them help and support them. If you are battling addiction, it is not to late. Tell someone and seek help.