Tough Breaks

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Dear Lindsey,

“Mom,” my eight-year-old began last week, “could you please call my coach and letknee-pain him know I can’t play tonight, because I cracked my leg.”

Seeing he was walking fine, I smiled inside (remembering my own “broken leg” claims of childhood) and asked how it happened. He explained he had been playing soccer with his brother. Five years his elder, that particular brother can be a little over-competitive with his already-powerful kick.

“Did he miss the ball and kick you? Or did you fall? What happened?” I prodded, guessing there might be a little tattling involved.

“He kicked the ball ‘as hard as he could’ [a phrase that always makes me smile inside] and I tried to stop it.”

“Oh my! That’s the kind of shot I stopped one time, and I couldn’t use my shoulder for a year!” I said. “Well did you at least stop him from getting the goal?” I jested to make light of the situation.

“No.” He sulked, and I stopped suspecting his purpose of getting his brother in trouble.

“No? You tried to stop it and it hit you so hard you hurt your leg, but it still went in?”

“No,” he complained, “I tried to kick it really hard, but I missed the ball completely.”

“You missed the ball? Then how did you hurt your leg; did you kick the ground?” I dragged the story out of him.

“No. I didn’t hit anything. But I kicked so hard, I cracked my leg, because I heard it crack,” he surmised.

I relished in the joy of motherhood.

“Well, bud, I don’t think you broke it, so you are probably ok for practice tonight.  Besides, you are scrimmaging the girls. Your team needs you!”

“No, Mom,” the concern in his voice was obvious.  “There is no way I can play in my scrimmage tonight.”

Uh oh…I smelled a teachable moment. What can I say to encourage him away from the wimpy attitude that tries to stop us all when the “going gets tough”?

Bradys play hurt!“? -no…he’s heard that one already.

Story! I need a story!

My kids (like us adults) always learn the best through a relevant story. For me, when it is told through a third-party’s eyes, it takes the offense away and allows learning without feeling attacked.  Certainly I could think of someone overcoming hardship that would relate to this eight-year-old’s heart and mind. Then I remembered an oldie but goodie from his very own oldest brother (whom I knew this younger son would never see as “wimpy”). I started my “once upon a time…” voice with the following true story – but in eight-year-old terms, like, “You know what happened next?” to keep his attention:

When your big brother was eleven…

(From my previous Letter, “Itching to be Tough,” images-1which was inspired by this conversation with my eight-year-old last week, but that day I told it to him in younger terms.)

When Casey was about eleven, I remember that sometimes even he, like many eleven-year-old boys would cry, or fight wimpiness. I prayed that God would help to make him strong and tough.

The very next day, Casey got poison ivy! It was just a little patch, but Casey thought he would have to skip his soccer game. I told him I thought he needed to “play hurt,” because it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

That night, the rash got worse. A lot worse! It was on his face, his belly, his legs and his feet! He itched SO BAD, I prayed that God would take the poison ivy away! fast!

But the next day, Casey got out of bed and you know what he did? He put on his soccer uniform to go play the game!

I couldn’t believe it! Then I realized what a champion he became when he overcame the poison ivy!  I thought back to my prayer just days prior and realized that maybe the poison ivy WAS the answer to my first prayer: that God would make Casey tough, because when I saw him play even though he had poison ivy, I realized my prayer was answered.

I wonder if God ever laughs at me?! One moment, I prayed that Casey would become a warrior, and then when God allowed the exact thing that would make him tough (poison ivy),  I immediately prayed it would be taken away.  Lucky for me, God continued with His plan, and didn’t just listen to my request for the “easy way out.”

Not only did Casey play for his team that day, but he scored a goal!

“Maybe sometimes God allows the struggles so that we can gain the strength we need to persevere,” I told my young son (telling him about Romans 5:3-5) as I finished the story of his brother, hoping it would make an impact on his own toughness factor for the night.

He sat pensively silent. I gloated at my mothering ability to teach through a third-party story. I hoped he got the parallels to his own soccer-scrimmage dilemma.  I got a little choked up, thinking about my now sixteen-year-old who has become such a man.

Then the eight-year-old broke into my prideful thoughts, “Well, that is a good story with poison ivy, Mom, but MY cracked leg is a much bigger problem!

Ha! Don’t we always believe “our mule carries the bigger load”?

I told him he could let the coach know that he “popped” his knee, and that he might need to take it lightly that night.

images-3I would say that the lesson wasn’t learned, but alas, he DID play in his scrimmage that night… “broken leg” and all.  His team was down 2-0 at half-time, but came back in the second half to win the game against the girls. (He wanted me to be sure and tell you that part.)

Enjoying motherhood,

Terri

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Itching to be Tough

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Dear Lindsey,

He was struggling between boyhood and manhood. Like a tadpole learning to cope with legs instead of a tail, he was learning to live with mechanisms different from his youth. Tears came too easily for this eleven-year-old and I knew they would need to lessen as his body matured to man.

One night, after an afternoon bout of his crying over someone changing rules in a game or other mildly unjust action, I intently prayed for him to grow up to be the man God intended:

“God please make my son tough.

–       The kind of tough that can withstand struggles.

–       The kind of tough that can lift the weights for his eventual family.

–       The kind of tough that perseveres.

–       The kind of tough that plays hurt.

–       The kind of tough that is a warrior for You.”

I prayed that God would reveal my own “mom-weaknesses” where I may have been catering to my son’s softer side, hindering his growth to manhood.

The day after my fervent prayer, a rash broke out on his belly. He itched and whined, and frankly, made a big deal of it. It did look itchy and uncomfortable, to say the least, but the entire rash was less than the size of my hand. It wasn’t really obvious what it was, but we suspected poison ivy.

“Mom, there’s no way I can play in my soccer game tomorrow!” he said.

“Bud, I know it itches, but once you see that ball on the field, I bet the itching will be imagesless than your desire for a goal. Besides, your team needs you!”  I said as I dutifully washed the bumps in special soap, put some Calamine on it and gave him Benedryl.

That night, I stayed up late into my “productive hours,” getting ready for the Mom-starting-gun to make its sound again the following day. As I passed his room at 2am, I saw my poor son sitting up on his bed, miserably hugging himself, rocking back and forth while tears streamed down his swollen cheeks. The spots had spread like the ivy that caused them – up from his chest to his neck and face, swelling one of his eyes almost closed. It grew down from his belly, hitting his inner thighs and continued to his feet.

He. Was. Miserable.

I gave him more Benedryl, coated what I could with more Calamine, and realized there was really nothing more I could do until we got to a physician.  I sat quietly on his bed, softly stroked his back, and silently prayed:

“Dear Lord. You know the pain in my son today. You KNOW how badly he is suffering with this itchiness and how long it can last. Please, God, take the poison ivy away and restore his skin to fully healed.”

As I lay in bed that night, I thought of his soccer game the following day, and how the coach would not understand that he would miss “because of poison ivy.”  I imagined a phone call I would make, emphasizing how BAD the poison ivy was: it was not just a couple spots on his belly!

When I woke in the morning, I was surprised to see my son already awake. He stood, fully dressed in game-attire, looking at himself in the mirror while he applied his own Calamine.

“I can either sit here and itch, or I can play a game for my team. I’m choosing to play.” He answered the question I hadn’t asked.

I was in shock. I started to make excuses and tell how the rash was more intense than it originally looked; how much worse it might itch with sweat; I started to wonder if others could get it, and a million other excuses for him not to go out of the house looking like a swollen monster covered in pink paint.

But my prayers from two nights before were answered, and my “mom-weaknesses” were silenced.

Not only did he play for his team that day, but he scored a goal!  A tough boy CAsey opponent became a man – and his body caught up later.  

(Note: If he had not come up with the idea himself, I don’t know that I would have pushed him to play that game. I think parenthood is a dance between compassion and pressure. Without the first, the latter causes pain and not necessarily change. (Ephesians 6:4))

I don’t suppose “toughness” is really the lack of tears, nor lack of fears, but the ability to push through yourself for your team, your family or someone beyond the one in your uncomfortable skin.

I thought back to my prayer just days prior and wondered if God ever laughs at me?! One moment, I was praying my son would become a warrior, and then when He allowed the very thing that would make him tough, I immediately prayed it would be taken away.

I am thankful God continued with His plan, and didn’t allow me to get in the way.

Maybe there are some cases of “poison ivy” in life for which we should be thankful instead of resentful: the struggles that made us strong; the trials that toughened our skin; the resistance that built muscles.

Or maybe there are some in my life right now from which I should be learning instead of running?

Because I guess answered prayers are sometimes disguised as itchy monsters covered in pink paint….before the goal is scored.

In love,

Terri

Romans 5: 3-5: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

“We pray for silver, but God often gives us gold instead.” – Martin Luther

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Bradys Play Hurt

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Dear Lindsey,

I have decided I know why it is called, “roughhousing”: because it is rough on my HOUSE! Boys are boys! When our oldest was barely one-year-old, “wrestling with dad” became the most exciting activity of the day. It progressed well into toddlerhood and became training ground for toughness with each of our three boys.  Chris and Casey spent hours tumbling on the floor and showed such a different relationship than my own with my son (or my relationship with my husband, for that matter!). The game always seemed to come to a halt in tears, as the toddler would succumb to exhaustion, realizing he was “whooped.”  Chris wanted to raise our boys to be tough though, and he would never let their game end with crying.

“Brady’s play hurt!” Chris (knowing that his son was not really injured) would egg a four-year-old Casey on – never rewarding his sniveling.  Making it fun so the toddler would continue playing, Chris would then let enough time pass that tears were forgotten, and he could end the game on a good note.

This game was daily, no maybe hourly! Wrestling with Daddy still occurs in this house with teenagers…only louder!

One particular day of toddlerhood, though, the game was declared “over,” and Chris rested his eyes, lying down on the couch in our playroom while Casey played with Legos. After some time, the four-year-old suddenly ran and jumped on the couch, landing on Chris’s mid-section, startling Chris from sleep to a shout: “Owwww! Get off of me!”

Casey got a cute twinkle in his eye and said,

“Come on, Dad! Bradys play hurt!”

I laughed out loud!

And the wrestling continued.

Oh my! The number of times the saying goes through my head outnumbers the wrestling events where it was created.

When I want to give up in tears,

when I want to make excuses for my mood,

when I want to scream in exhaustion, “I can’t get it all done!”

I go back to the moment with my four-year-old and am reminded: “Bradys play hurt,” and I stay in the game …just one more day.

Blessings,

Terri

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

Hebrews 12:1:  Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,…

1 Corinthians 9:27:  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

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Orange Signs of Protection

Dear Lindsey,

I intentionally arrived twenty minutes early to avoid my son going to the dorms after practice – which would only accentuate the point that his friends were staying, but he was not.  When arriving at the practice field, I could see my 13-yr-old in the pack already walking off the field in the opposite direction, despite my early arrival. I realized I would need to pick him up at the University Towers, one mile off of the far end of the field (where I could not drive). I picked the 16-yr-old up from the stadium behind me, and we hurried to the parking garage to retrieve the car.

At the parking lot exit, the one-way sign pointed in a direction opposite my desire. I went a

One Way

mile clockwise to get back to about 50 yards from the entrance to the parking garage. (Maybe I should have just gone the wrong way for 50 yards!)

I tried to turn left at Cate Ave, when I saw the LED sign that said, “Cate Ave closed 5/13 – 8/13.” Obviously, this teen soccer camp was my first visit to the college since 5/13.   I turned around again and headed in a three-mile circle to get to the other side of Cate – to where the University Towers were.

As I arrived at the dorm, there were teenagers everywhere. The stench of the players filled the lobby, making me wish there were another door through which I could wait. The variety of teenage maturity never ceases to amaze me. Some looked like young puppies, wet behind the ears, and holding a stature of four-foot-something; others, though separated by just a few years, exhibited bodies ready for the cover of GQ, towering over six feet. The emotional maturity of the room had equal variance.

My younger son droopily walked toward me, his sweat-covered clothing evidencing his intense workout on a hot Carolina day.

The third door of the car barely closed when he started. “I understand you don’t want me to, but can I just know the reasons you don’t want me to stay overnight?” he said, resigned as he sat in the car behind his brother.

This conversation was held over from the previous week, when he had realized his friends were staying at the all-night soccer camp, but he and his brother were not.  The first day of camp departure had only reopened the wounds.

I repeated my stand: “Dad and I prayed about it and decided this was best for our family.”

“Don’t you trust me?” He asked – hurt, yet clearly ready to lock horns.

“I do trust you. You are SO trustworthy, and please do not take personal offense at our decision!”

Thoughts of explanation went through my mind: “Chris and I have been traveling; we haven’t been a family in one house in several nights. Casey just came home from church camp and doesn’t need four more nights out of his bed.  Fatigue leads to injury, and you both have a big competition in Greensboro the day this camp ends. I trust you, but I can’t say the same about all of the teens – up to college-age – that are in the building. We prayed and did not have peace leaving you overnight, so we chose to bring you both home each night.”

“A thirty-minute commute to your own bed?! Who wouldn’t want that?!” I said aloud with a lightened voice, trying to change the heavy mood of the car.

I started to turn to enter highway 40, but was blocked by a sideways police car and

Police Car Lights

flashing lights. I continued straight instead, into uncharted territory, looking for another way home.

Our conversation volley continued, until I finally said with love, “Trust me, bud. The best way I can say it is that we want what’s best for YOU.”

Road Closed Ahead sign

Man! The road came to another road closure. It sent me on a detour that ended up in a loop that circled around to five miles before I would have originally entered the highway! “This is so frustrating! I just want to go home!” was in my head, when my son’s boiling became noticeable as well. I could tell he disagreed with our decision to keep him home, yet was getting control of his attitude, and I needed to do the same.

I spoke out loud to my teens, figuring I would try to teach while reigning in my irritation.

“A friend was telling me about her BSF Bible study leader’s lesson on Joseph last week.  Do you remember what happened to Joseph?”

They answered about his being sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to Egypt. (Genesis 37 – 50)

“But then what happened?”

The boys shared in the story telling. Through their low Eeyore-toned voices, I wondered if their eyes were rolling and thoughts were saying, “Here Mom goes again…” but they continued telling of how Joseph worked hard and became the lead servant, so he was brought into the palace of a leader of Egypt, Potiphar, and became his right-hand man.

“And then?” I asked, impressed at their memory of details.

They continued by saying that Joseph was put into jail, because Potiphar’s wife accused him of something he didn’t do.

“Yes! And THAT is where my friend’s story started. She was saying that jail could have been a good thing at that point.”

“Good?” Nate asked, holding onto his fight-ready mood, knowing jail didn’t sound like a good thing. I pictured his one eyebrow raised while the opposite top lip crunched up leaving his mouth open – his normal questioning facial features.

“My friend said that jail may have protected Joseph.  Maybe jail prevented him from giving in to temptation for Potiphar’s wife if she had persisted.  The Bible actually says we will never be tempted beyond our ability to resist (1Cor 10:13), so maybe God was actually protecting Joseph by removing him from the situation. I guess I think sometimes protection may feel like jail, but please know that we love you and are only trying to do what we think is best as parents to protect you.”

Oooh. Silence in the car. “I wonder if the point made as much sense to them as it did to me,” I mused at my motherhood. Then I almost laughed out loud when I realized that maybe the detours on the road that night were a “jail” that God was using to protect me as well.

detour sign

My thirty-minute trip was taking over an hour on the return home due to detours, but at this moment, I was thankful for the extra time in the car. Maybe the detours were for such a conversation? Maybe the detours were for my own protection from some reckless car on the original route? Maybe the detours were for… “Ice Cream!”  I saw a favorite stop ahead, now recognizing where we were. We stopped and got something all those kids in the dorm would certainly be missing!

There are so many parallels to the closed roads in my path that night:

–       Home foreclosure may just be taking my friend to the right rental neighborhood where someone needs her smile.

–       A deferred college application may be leading that young lady to choose the college where her future spouse will be.

–       A job loss may protect someone from an ethical temptation that otherwise would have been difficult to resist, or it may be directing him to a new job with a better opportunity for his growth.

–       Jochobed may have thought it a horrible “detour” when she was forced to give up her baby due to oppressive captors, yet her God-ordained “detour” led her baby Moses to grow up to free her nation from slavery. (Exodus 2)

–       Joseph’s jail time may have protected him from Potiphar’s wife’s possibly tempting situation, but it definitely put him in the right place at the right time to eventually be promoted by Pharaoh.  His new position of high authority allowed him to save Egypt and even his own family in Israel during a time of famine.

God’s detours are not always denials. They are not for us to scream, “How dare God change my plans!” ha! What we see as “detours” may be His gracious protection and direction. I can’t say I am thrilled when I see the “orange sign” ahead, but I can trust the Writer of the arrow as I follow. Of course, I am grateful for the ice cream stops along the way! 🙂

God bless,

Terri

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“IF” (If My Daddy Had Not Been Struck By Lightning)– by my friend, Sarah Ascol

Are You a Basket Case?

Miscarriages, Slow Toddlers and Knees

Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part I

When We Don’t See a Purpose

Homeschooling Missing Ingredients (Mistakes I’ve Made)

Dear Lindsey

The coupons began as a spontaneous purchase at Walgreens, although I haven’t seen them there lately, so we have made our own. One coupon says, “Your choice of restaurant the next time we eat out.” Another says, “Multiply your snacks by two today,” and a very memorable one said, “You make the snack, whatever you want, and Mom has to eat a bite.”

Hmm.  Why do I do these things? I was nervous when they decided to redeem that coupon!

Fortunately, my children were nice (nicer than I probably would have been to my own Brady Bakersmother when I was their age! LOL!) and decided that they would try to make peanut butter icing, knowing my love for peanut butter. The problem was that this 6 and 7-yr-old could not find a recipe, so they just guessed. They were so excited working together. I walked through the kitchen and saw my Kitchen Aid mixer on the counter as if this were a professional production. I tried to stay out of sight, but I enjoyed their whispers from a distance.

“No, no, no! I don’t think there’s baking powder in frosting!” I heard J.R. say, “I’m pretty sure there’s vanilla, though.”

“It looks like peanut butter mush!” they cackled and then hushed each other so I wouldn’t hear their surprise.

“Mmm, it’s good mush,” Christine said, and I pictured her eyes sparkling as she took her taste-test finger out of her mouth.

“What’s that white stuff in frosting?” she asked.  “I think that’s what’s missing.”

“Oh yeah!! Shortening!” he yelled, and I heard his motions climbing the counter to get to the cupboard behind the prep sink.

I cringed from my office, wondering what kind of sick mind I had the day I thought that coupon was a good one to offer. Why didn’t I say DAD had to taste it?!

“Oh Mom–my!” they sang in a doorbell-toned duet. “It’s ready for you to taste!” and the giggles filled the room.

I rounded the corner to see the powdered sugar box empty, with clear handprints in its dust all over the island. Measuring spoons were out, though I wondered what they had measured, since they didn’t have a recipe. I did not see reptiles or worms present, so I thought it must be safe for eating. With all the courage I could muster, I took the spatula from JR’s hand, where it had been preloaded with peanut butter icing, and took a lick.

“Not bad!” I said, and they squealed with pride.

So cute!

I happened to have some ooey gooey chocolate cookies left over from Christmas in the freezer, so we thawed them and sandwiched the icing between two cookies. Delicious! Really!recipe

When I began homeschooling, I think I wanted a recipe to follow, but yet I LOVED being able to cater the learning to each individual child! I went with what I knew, and then added some things and subtracted some things. And I still do today! But just like in Christine and JR’s recipe, there are certain things I want to keep out. (By the way, that’s the real recipe they invented to the right. Use with caution! 🙂 )

Some Homeschooling Mistakes Along the Way

Although I love lists, this one is not my favorite: my list of mistakes. (And it is longer than could be captured on any blog and still growing!)  However, I am grateful I learned from some of these…at least once so far, anyway.

  1. Bringing school home:  When I admitted to a dear friend, Sham Palomaki, that I never felt like I was completing a school day right, she said sweetly, “It sounds like maybe you are bringing school home instead of homeschooling.”  I immediately knew what she meant, and I was guilty as charged! I had a chalkboard on the wall, and even had a 1950’s school desk I found at a garage sale! I was “teacher” during school hours, and “Mom” some time later. School wasn’t done until that little book said it was done.  Missing ingredient: Home.
  2. Routine Rut: Routine is great! We start at the same time (approximately) each day. We do subjects in the same order (although for the first year, I wrote the subjects down on popsicle sticks and allowed him to rearrange the sticks daily). But routine can lead to ruts of “unfun” hours end on end. Too often, I have become a slave master, cracking a whip, worried about the time and when summer break (for me!) would begin. I had an agenda and it needed to be met. Similar to “putting the home in school,” I realized I needed to flex. We made family sandwiches (with mom on the bottom, of course – thanks, Marcia Robinson, for that idea), learned multiplication of 7’s using football guys, added recess, put in a field trip or special lecture series by Dad (since he is at home during the day), and my older two keep telling my younger two that we used to have “math substitute” once a week. (Shhh. Those two are doing fine with math every day!)  Missing Ingredient: Laughter
  3. Keeping up with Joneses: We know that comparison is the root of unhappiness, and I really didn’t think I could be that way. I mean, my kids are the best kids on earth, so how could comparing with any others ever lead to unhappiness? Well, when someone says, “We accidentally hit an opossum in our car last night, so we decided to scoop it up and take it home for science dissection,” I realized “I am completely unworthy to ever be called a homeschool mom.” (LOL, Thanks, Wendy Lukonen, my hero!)  “Keeping up with the Joneses” does two things: 1.  It makes me feel like I should be doing something different in homeschooling. 2. Any moment I take thinking about “what I should have done” takes away a time where I could be encouraging another precious homeschool mom for doing her great job. I decided that Mrs. Jones was chosen to homeschool her kids. I am called to homeschool mine; no comparison allowed.  Missing ingredient: contentment
  4. Low Expectations for my kids: I watched Casey’s math test “grades” dwindle. I was never much for keeping grades. Grades seemed to be for communicating between teacher and parents how well a student was performing. I never bothered. Instead, I looked for mastery. If he missed problems, he had to re-do them until he could do them well. Red pen? Optional.  One day, I realized Casey was not getting 100% of his problems correct…ever. Knowing my kid, I realized he was capable, and completely unmotivated. Why would he care? I had no expectation for him to meet. The above “coupon” program was instituted to encourage 100% on the first try of a math assessment (test). It was amazing how as soon as there was incentive, he checked and doublechecked his work before turning it in. He had never known that I expected 100%, because I had communicated otherwise. I soon recognized other areas of my low expectations: excellence of chores, cleanliness of rooms, good attitude, edification of siblings, etc. Ugh! Writing this reminds me of how much I still need to do!  Missing ingredient: great expectations.
  5. Too Many Activities: Just because opportunity knocks, doesn’t mean we have to answer it. We could go to a co-op all day Thursdays, play homeschool soccer on Friday mornings, go to homeschool art class on Monday afternoons; don’t forget library story hour next door – it’s so convenient it’s the same day and free! And shouldn’t Christine get homeschool gymnastics on Wednesday afternoons, since her brothers’ soccer dominates our evenings? Oh, and that worldview class at church seems too good to be true! But let’s not forget the “normal” evening activities of church choirs, music lessons and Awanas (Scripture memory). Not to mention that I went to Bible Study Fellowship one morning/week for 8 years. Wow. Some years, my kids did so much school in the car that I called them “Road Scholars” :).  Missing ingredient: school.
  6. Hungering for Encouragement: It can be a lonely world for homeschool moms. There is no one to say, “Your kids are awesome; here’s an ‘A’.” Or “I think your child should be invited to this honors class.”  I must admit that there were many times when I would hear of awards given or school rankings of similarly aged public school neighbors and I would think, “I wish my kid got noticed.”  I am embarrassed to say that I even sent the standardized test scores to the grandparents the first year of homeschool – just wishing someone would say, “You are doing a good job. Maybe you are not messing them up after all.”  I know Col 3:23 says to do all for the glory of God, not man, so why does this desire creep back into me so often? Can’t I get just a little glory for me? Just a little glory for my kids? Ha! Do I really forget WHO is in charge of my homeschool?  I have had to go back to that original list of “why homeschool” so many times. One of the reasons I homeschool was not, “So I can be recognized that I did a good job.” It was not, “So my child can get accolades from his peers.” But the biggest reason was so my child will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  Missing Ingredient: Eternal focus
  7. Being Puffed Up: Too often on this journey, pride has reared its ugly head. It is difficult when taking a stand and walking against the crowd in any direction not to feel a bit of excitement when your way works! But the only way that happens is because God is at work. There were times I think I was homeschooling to “prove a point” instead of “do what was right.” When the “I’ll show them,” negative attitude wins over the “I’ll serve the Lord” attitude, the fall awaits. 1 Samuel 2:3 says, “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, 
and by him deeds are weighed.”  This showed most clearly when we debated on sending our oldest son to high school. We had various reasons that looked like this particular Christian school could be a good opportunity for Casey: more Godly men leading as examples; competitive sports; Christian friends, etc. Casey asked us not to send him. My heart ached to have him (and frankly his good example) at home all day. Through prayer, we realized that we really felt it was the right thing to do for him and his wellbeing. Dark voices began echoing in my head, “But your identity is a homeschool mom of four! Everyone is going to know you “failed”! You’re quitting! You must not have really believed what you set out to prove!” and on and on. Chris actively wanted Casey to go to high school, but left the decision to me after his input. I analyzed five different ways of homeschooling through high school. I resisted the change in all of my normal ways – coming up with my plan B, C and D. But one morning, in silent prayer (amazing how many realizations happen on that porch while the birds sing in my ear), I realized that it was meant to be. As a friend, Ann Winters, says, “God is always on Plan A. Always.”  I called the school and arranged a tour. The following fall, I sat in the bleachers watching him play high school soccer as the only starting freshman, and a man came over to me and said, “Casey is the answer to my prayers for a friend for my son.” I could hardly choke words out in reply. My prayers had been answered as well. Missing Ingredient: humility to accept when God’s plan wasn’t my plan A.

.

So when we add laughter to great expectations, humility with contentment, and some home along with school,  I suppose we end up with homeschool.  It sometimes looks like peanut butter mush, but sandwiched between two cookies of love, it is really delicious. Really!

I recently came across a blog where a man thanked his wife for homeschooling their children. He was celebrating her “retirement from teaching,” since their youngest was graduating from homeschool. What an encouragement for those of us on the journey!  A copy and link are pasted below.

God bless,

Terri Brady

——–

Praising a ‘Retired’ Home School Mom

By Marty Duren , CP Op-Ed Contributor
May 13, 2013|10:42 am

The homeschool teacher who taught my children is retiring after a stellar twenty-three year career.

In the next few days we will withdraw our youngest child from her homeschool, high-school program. She then will prepare for taking the GED test in the next few weeks. For Sonya, my wife, it ends a twenty-three year homeschool teaching career.

When we made the decision to start homeschooling our oldest daughter it was not because we heard a word from God. It was not because we thought Deuteronomy 6 applied to readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmetic. Nor was it because we were on an anti-public school tirade.

It was pretty simple. When our oldest daughter was 5 years old we lived in the country where I pastored a church. It was 10 miles each way to kindergarten. If we drove her to school we faced forty miles a day round-trips. If we put her on the bus she would board around 7:30 in the morning and return around 5:00 in the afternoon every day. That was not appealing. Each school bus, like the one she would ride, had kids from K-12. That was not appealing, either.

So, we decided to homeschool.

As is the case with most homeschool families, Mom carried most of the responsibility. After twenty-three years and three kids my wife has done at least 98% of the teaching, grading, record keeping, encouraging, reproving, threatening, laughing and crying. I probably threatened worse judgments but she did more of it.

She sought the best deals on curriculum every summer as well as determining what of our old curriculum we could sell. And, she determined what we had to keep for another child or two coming through.

She told me what math I had to do with which kid on what night. She oversaw so many science experiments we could not even count.

Some of them actually worked.

All three of our kids could read, because of her emphasis on phonics, before they started school. One, however, sandbagged all the way through first grade acting as if he did now how. It was only when she informed him he would need to repeat first grade Reading that he picked up a book and, to her amazement, started reading it to her. I feel certain a loud lecture soon followed.

She read aloud more books than anyone could count. Classics, modern stories, the Redwall series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, dozens of Agatha Christie mysteries. Thousands of pages, perhaps tens of thousands. Our youngest preferred to read than be read to. Finally Sonya would get two copies of the same book so they could alternately read aloud and follow along. To this day all our kids read, read widely and read much.

One thing instilled in our kids was a love of learning. I have heard more than one person say over the years they never picked up another book after college. Sonya never went to college but has picked up books ever since high school. She modeled learning, both biblical and the “schoolish” type, to our three. Education really should not be about reports and finishing courses, anyway. Education should be about creating the desire to learn and freeing the ability to do it.

We are not that home school family where each kid got a full-ride scholarship to Harvard while finding a cure for a major disease over the kitchen sink after successfully suing the government over the freedom of education. No, we had to evaluate every spring whether we would do it again in the fall. We also were not that family who went into the yard, picked a couple of dandelions and marked science off for the day. Sonya made sure there was structure. Field trips were planned judiciously. Going shopping did not count as economics. Well, not often…

Our middle child, and only boy, hated school (except for the reading part) and fought it every step of the way. He did not care for college either. But he is gainfully employed, promoted three times in a single year on his job. Our oldest got a scholarship and finished a philosophy degree at a state university. She helps run a coffee shop and thinks about the meaning of drinking coffee. Our youngest is in the choosing college phase. All three graduated at least a year early.

A local school principal once told me that, of all the homeschoolers she had ever seen, Sonya was the only one who did it right. It might have been hyperbole, but it was encouraging.

Sonya Duren passed up the choice to have a “career” so she could pour the best of herself into the three to whom God entrusted us. We forewent a lot of things to buy school supplies, books; VHS lecture tapes, DVDs and entire curriculum sets. Anything you see in the Bible about the rewards of sacrifice is embodied in her.

So, she “retires” this year with no pension, no admiring colleagues, no principal’s speech, no plaque, and no pension. She just retires having changed three lives. Not to mention my unending appreciation and admiration.

The column was first published on Marty Duren’s blog, Kingdom in the Midst.

Marty Duren is a former pastor, Christ follower, husband, father, writer, social media strategist and general provocateur who lives in Hermitage, TN. His blog, Kingdom in the Midst can be found at www.martyduren.com.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/praising-a-retired-home-school-mom-95754/#H52sld4DoQbdbJhX.99

Related Letters to Lindsey:

Throwing Myself Under the (School) Bus

Dear Lindsey,

Some of the most entertaining responses I have received when I said I homeschooled were:

  • “And you still have your hair?! That is amazing!” (Thanks, Melinda!)
  • “If I homeschooled, all that my kids would know how to do is shop at Target!” (Thanks for not homeschooling, my friend 🙂 .)
  • “I could never spend that much time with my kids; [and even worse,] they would never want to spend that much time with me!” (Thanks, lady at the park.)

Many feel compelled to tell me why they don’t homeschool – which really isn’t necessary – I know it is not for everyone. I am not a homeschool Nazi who thinks there is only one way to do well for your children. I have no vendetta against public school; I love all of my friends who send their kids to school; and I pretty much adore most of the teachers I have met.

More and more often, I hear, “How do you do that?” or “I wish I had done that.” And my favorite response: “Can you tell me why you would do that?” (Thank you, drug store employee!)

Children Who…

Chris explained to me one day, “I don’t look at our children as clay that we should mold, but as seeds God entrusted to us, and we should provide the best garden for their growth.”

The educational methods we have chosen are purposeful to allow our four children to grow to be adults who would:

    • Glorify the Lord
    • Reach their fullest potential
    • Are Hardworking (Prov 13:4)
    • Have a good attitude, showing the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)
    • Are leaders in their homes, their churches, communities, and country

In summary, the principles we would like to instill would raise happy, healthy, productive Christian Americans.

The Princess Bride Story (sort of)

Have you heard this story about a princess? She was of marrying age, so her father began his search for the right man to whom he would promise his daughter’s hand in marriage. Man after man lined up, trying to impress the king to win his favor and take his daughter’s hand. A chariot race was arranged on the dirt path at the edge of the mountain and the husband wannabes prepared their horses and carriages for the show. One man stepped forward to gain the king’s attention and said, “I would like your daughter to ride with me; I will get her within one foot of the cliff’s edge and bring her safely to the end of the race.”

The next man could not be outdone, so he had a different promise: “Sir, I would love to win your favor so much that I will get your daughter within one INCH of the cliff’s edge and bring her safely to the race’s end.”

The third man walked slowly toward the king. He meekly began, “Sir, your daughter is of such value; I would not risk getting her anywhere near the edge of the cliff. I will deliver her safely, in the right time, as far from the cliff’s edge as I can.”

The king cancelled the race and promised the daughter’s hand to the third suitor who promised her safety.

Why Homeschool?

I suppose I feel as if a King has entrusted four children to me, and I want to deliver them

Thomas Built Buses Mighty Mite school bus. Thi...

back to Him as safely as I am able. That is not to say that someone who does not homeschool is sending children over the edge of some cliff! Hear me out: I have met MANY public school educated people who are far from the edge of any cliffs themselves (including my perfect husband and perfect me! LOL).

“I can say that we have tried all kinds of schooling for our four kids: public school, private school and homeschool, and none of them works!” – Stephen Davey, tongue in cheek

Principal’s Principles

“Methods are many.

Principles are few.

Methods always change.

Principles never do.”

Homeschooling is not a principle in the Brady house; it is a method. This may be obvious since we currently have two in school and two schooling at home. This school year of 50-50 has shed light on both sides of the schooling methods, and spurred me to write you.

I have heard that data shows that the factor that is most influential over a child’s education is the parents’ active involvement in the education – whichever method is chosen.

“The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next,” Abraham Lincoln said. If that statement is true, then we parents had better know, and heartily agree with the philosophy of whatever schoolroom in which our children spend their weeks. (An article and a two minute video below tell a little bit about “Common Core,” a new classroom curriculum which has already started in 45 states. There is a core philosophy being mandated by the government, so I guess in those states, Lincoln’s quote could be restated: “The philosophy of the government in THIS generation will be the philosophy of the schoolroom, too.” But I digress…)

Normally, I would put a list of “recommended reading” at the end of a Letter, but the recommended reading here is practically more important than this Letter! So I want to include it here. Whether you homeschool, public school or private school, these books should be required reading for any parent:

Recommended Reading:

Thomas Jefferson Education (and its sequels by Oliver DeMille). I cannot quote DeMille enough in this Letter regarding school choice. I just want to print the whole book, which ironically I didn’t find until I had been homeschooling for 7 years! But even if you do not have children of school age, this book is an inspiration for any of us to never stop learning! (It is a great precursor to another of his books, Leadershift (by Woodward and DeMille).)

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling (Debra Bell, $2.99 at the link). A must-read for parents of school-age kids. Read the first few chapters and her great school debate. If you are not choosing to homeschool, skip the rest of the book. The first few chapters provide good insight and conviction, as well as a balanced look at school choices. The back of the book has many, many options of “how-to’s” which show the vast range of types of homeschooling.

Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World (Freed and Parsons). ADHD is a growing diagnosis among school-aged children. This book (by someone who is not pro-homeschool) not only helped free some thoughts regarding that diagnosis (and some other options besides medication) but also shed light on some of my own weaknesses. I was amazed at how my kids fell in line with his test. He helped me find strengths in them I didn’t know they had. It changed everything for one of my children, because I deal with him in all areas in a different way, and for us, it works!

The Reasons We Homeschool:

In her book, Debra Bell recommends writing down WHY you homeschool. (And I would recommend writing down WHAT YOU WANT AT THE OTHER END OF SCHOOL whichever method of schooling you choose – to keep yourself accountable to your principles.) This list has kept me “in” many times when the “bad wolf” was whispering contrary thoughts in my head; but it has also guided many decisions of ours, “Should we hire a teacher?” “Should we participate in a homeschool group?” “Should I offer to teach other like-minded families in a group or start our own school?” to name a few. We just look at how those decisions affect (or don’t affect) this list of benefits and then decide.

This list will be different for all families. Just because some of these are available to homeschoolers does NOT mean that these benefits are not available to public school or private school.

Brady Family: goals and benefits of homeschooling

  1. Biblical values being taught and “caught” – consistent without wavering based on denominations, legalism, or tolerance. This includes consistent discipline – not 6 hours of one way, and then a totally different magnitude at home.
  2. Closely knit family relationships. No age-group segregation to foster segregation within a family. Friends of all ages.
  3. Flexible schedule for travel, neighbors in need, and visitors.
  4. Speed of learning catered to individual and/or individual subject. Teach at a 1st grade level in reading, but 3rd grade in math, for example.
  5. Style of learning catered to the individual Spoon-feeding methods and memorization versus self-teaching and reading classics; audio learning versus visual versus kinesthetic learning methods, etc.
  6. Avoid negative comparison or labeling by people who don’t necessarily have my kids’ best interest in mind or don’t love them the way I do.
  7. Avoid unnecessary negative influence of peers, teachers, or bullies.
  8. Subjects of MY choice, based on my priorities: Bible, Employment, Self-employment, Business ownership and Investment quadrants of Cashflow (by Kiyosaki), outdoor play, music lessons, languages, people skills, etc.
    1. Once they have learned to read, they should be able to read to learn in any subject so they can take that skill to be life-long learners.
  9. Emphasize learning and mastery, not grades, standardized tests or brownie points.
    1. Focus on learning to think, not learning what to think (DeMille)

10. Be influenced by other admirable homeschoolers.

11. Learn through experience. Learn history through traveling with Chris, etc. I will know what they have learned, so when we travel (even to grocery store!), I will be able to point out what applies to them at their level.

FAQ’s of Homeschooling:

  1. Is it legal?
    1. YES! Unless the government says our children are not our own…which unfortunately seems to be too common of a trend in what I see. Go to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association website to see legal requirements for your state: www.hslda.org
  2. What about socialization?
    1. Yep. Schools are better at teaching socialism. Haha! J
    2. I asked this question about socialization originally of a homeschool mother and she said, “Do you want your 5-yr-old to learn social skills from another 5-yr-old? Or an adult?” Good point.
    3. When I began, I coerced 3 or 4 good friends to do it with me. (OK – they say I dragged them into it – but over a decade later, and they have helped guide me as much or more than any opposite force.) There was no “trend” of friends to follow, but homeschoolers had laid a path that we found with ease. We got our kids together once/week for gym, music and art. The group grew to be 40+ families of 100+ kids by the time I left Michigan two years ago. Now here in Raleigh, NC, there are thousands in the homeschool groups, and several from which to choose. Socialization is with the right people during socialization time; learning takes place one on one in a quiet (well, relatively quiet) home.
  3. Am I able do it?
    1. Did you teach your child to use the bathroom? Tie his shoes? Make his bed? You have been homeschooling all along.
    2. If you don’t know where to begin, there are many resources available for telling you word-for-word what to do and say daily.
    3. In my experience, 5 and 6-yr-olds practically teach themselves when we offer them the right educational options of reading and play.
  4. What about special needs? ADHD?
    1. Special needs do not disqualify the ability to homeschool. Part of the confidence I had when I began homeschooling was due to working one-on-one with an autistic child, to whom his mother and I (among others) taught lessons each day, recording progress in a notebook. Thanks to God and the behavioral therapy, the non-speaking three-yr-old became an active kindergartener in public school just two years later, with no diagnosis of autism present. (Read “Let Me Hear Your Voice” by Katherine Maurice for additional information.)
    2. ADHD children might fair well when treated individually, at their own pace and designed environment.
  5. What does it cost?
    1. A part of me wants to answer this one, “everything!” since every part of me becomes part of homeschooling. But in dollar terms, the cost varies based on the method chosen, which means it varies A LOT! Robinsoncurriculum.com offers a K-12 classics curriculum for under $400 for 13 years’ worth (less on eBay). Amblesideonline.org offers completely free downloads and reading lists by grade-level that provide most of the needs for FREE. A local homeschool group offers classes for most high school courses for about $500 each subject/year. Classical conversations costs about $1500/year for middle school. EBay changes all the numbers. As you can see, the cost varies greatly.
  6. How much time does it take every day?
    1. Oliver DeMille, in Thomas Jefferson Education, suggests spending five hours/day doing something academic. Some kids will drive themselves more from there. Younger kids, less.
    2. In the early years (K-3rd grade), I rarely spend more than 2 hours working with the student. Often 20min reading lesson and a little math and they are off on their own- reading, exploring the outdoors, etc. Last I checked, Kindergarten is still optional in many states, as well as the Brady home. The “incidental learning” through influence of reading aloud and playing games made Kindergarten “requirements” satisfied by age three or four for all four of our children – so I was never too worried about officially “starting school.”
    3. It is impossible to measure length of time in homeschooling. Maybe we work 8am-11am specifically teaching, but then I see Christine (9) off in the woods in the backyard, carrying a journal and the Nature Handbook with her. And I see JR (7) trying to get his remote control car to balance, holding the magazine that he hand-made for a friend down the street. Then we snuggle with popcorn and books (See the letter: “Raising Readers”) or get out the map at night, to see where Pagoo went on his journey during bedtime reading. How much time did it take to “do school”?
  7. What curriculum do you use?
    1. I highly recommend anyone trying to choose a curriculum to read the DeMille and Bell books (above), before choosing. I don’t use the same curriculum for all of my children (see “reason why Bradys homeschool” #5 above). Look for a future Letter to Lindsey regarding getting started.
    2. When I first began homeschooling, I simply brought school home; I even boasted, “I use the same curriculum as some schools.” However, experience has told me that I was not satisfying #4, 5, 8 or 10 of my reasons by just selecting a box curriculum (like A Beka or Bob Jones) and staying with it. So I branched. I got rid of the “chalkboard mentality paradigm” I had from growing up in school. Now, we do Bible, math and grammar/penmanship together and then focus on reading classics. Incidentally, if anyone asks, I highly recommend to anyone starting homeschool – especially with a child who has been in school – that they begin with a box curriculum like A Beka or Bob Jones, because it gets the daily routine right before you start picking and choosing creatively.)
  8. Is there an age when you shouldn’t homeschool anymore?
    1. My first “age” goal to reach for each child was 10-yrs-old. The goal was that after age 10, we could reevaluate whether homeschool was right for us. Dr. James Dobson says that if a child is given one standard consistently until the age of 8-10 years old, he is much less likely to veer from it. This goes along with the fact that most discipline for obedience within a home is heavily required until around age 6-10. If, however, the foundation has many “blows to its base” when a 1st grade teacher teaches evolution, for example, or promotes divorce, or doesn’t punish for a child’s lie, the child is more likely to not only question his beliefs, but his parents’ as well. So it was my first goal to get to age 10. Of course, we loved it and went beyond.
    2. My friend, Donna Ascol, who has graduated 4 homeschoolers with high school and associates degrees at the same time, and still homeschools two more says, “If I could only homeschool two years of their whole lives, it would be 6th and 7th grade.” I agree that those two years can be painfully unforgettable and unrealistic on the social skills of peers; I have not been put inside of a locker since 7th grade. LOL.
    3. We put our eldest in school at 9th grade, but I do NOT say that high school is the age where all should go to school…if they go to school at all! It was right for him, but it may not be right for all. My second son will be coming back home for 8th grade next year: his request; our choice.
    4. It goes back to praying through the pros and cons of your personal situation for each child. Reevaluating every year takes the pressure off. No for now doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind next year. Chris and I have often come to lean in a direction, just because it has less chance of regret. I will never regret the extra time I have spent with my kids, never.
  9. What obstacles are there to overcome? (The way to overcome any obstacle is to make sure the dream is bigger than the obstacle. Stay focused on your “reasons for homeschooling” any time one of these obstacles arises in your mind. Believe me, those school buses never look so appealing to me as every February; I get my list of “why” back out and read it!)
    1. Family and Friends: With any good decision comes resistance. Well-meaning family and friends can weigh a homeschooler down. I had to understand that even though it was TRULY not in my heart, my homeschooling implied that their schooling choice was not as good as my own. Not true, but I am guessing they felt it regardless. Time allowed us all to encourage each other in our choices, knowing God has a plan for each.
    2. Parenting: The fluency of homeschooling is limited by our own discipline within the home. Many have told me they want to homeschool, but their kids won’t listen to them. Sad. Excuse. If we can’t train them to listen to us, the parents, to what authority will they listen? Look at statistics of peer pressure and you get the answer. It is ok to make demands of your children – even in schooling. I am ashamed that I used to think that was “someone else’s job.”
    3. Toddlers: I don’t like calling children “obstacles,” but toddlers bring a challenge to homeschooling – not an impossibility – a challenge. You can do it anyway! Yes, it is easier now that I don’t have to try to dance with Cheerios in my hair to distract the 1-yr-old while, cleaning up the Play-Doh of the 3-yr-old, all while teaching the 6-yr-old addition, and the 9-yr-old science, but it was worth it. Much has been written about homeschooling with toddlers in the room, so I won’t bore with details, but I encourage you to look into it. (Help for the Harried Homeschooler is a good place to start.) It makes me oh so sad when I hear of a mom that gives up homeschooling her 6-yr-old because she is afraid her 3 and 1-yr-olds were too much of a distraction! (See answer to #6 above for how much time it takes. See Obstacles #9d (perfectionism) below and overcome it. Then re-read your reasons to homeschool before you consider putting a six-year-old in school due to younger siblings.)
    4. Perfectionism: My desire for perfectionism was such an obstacle, that it was the most common whisper/shout in my ear, trying to persuade me to put my kids in school. Sometimes the house fell apart. (THAT is funny that I just used past-tense, since it STILL falls apart!) The school day almost NEVER looks perfect. (“Almost” is optional in that sentence.) I too often imagined that some teacher, any teacher would do a better job than I was doing. SHE would be more organized. HE would get all of the checkmarks in the box for the day. But raising a child is not about collecting checkmarks! Raising the next generation of leaders will not always look organized! Now that I have some years of experience in homeschooling, I can confidently tell you that years of imperfect homeschooling are leading to mature children who are progressing in the direction of happy, healthy, productive Christian Americans.

Who should NOT homeschool?

  1. If the only reason you want to take your kids out of school is so they don’t wake you up in the morning, please don’t.
  2. If you are only half-interested in it, please don’t.
  3. If you are only mad at a teacher, please don’t. Rectify things with the teacher, and then make a decision through prayer.
  4. If you call your husband a “*&^#&*$^@bleep who won’t clean the toilets!” your kids could use a better influence. (HAHA – Remember from my last letter, “It Began as a Walk in the Park”?)
  5. If you don’t feel called to homeschool, nothing is wrong with you. There are other options and God may be using your life and your children’s in those situations for His glory! Press on!

In love,

Terri Brady

Two minute video on Common Core: http://youtu.be/9gyZDtzgta8

Article on two moms who who got involved and made a difference for their state when they noticed something had changed because their school started using Common Core: Two Moms Versus Common Core

Related Posts

It Began as a Walk in the Park

Positive Influence

Trees

The seeds had been planted 5 years earlier, but they didn’t actually begin to sprout until one day when I took a walk to the park.  I was married with one child. After walking my then one-yr-old to the park on a Thursday morning, I found teenagers playing on the playset. Disappointed that these “truant hooligans” were using the equipment for tag, I turned my stroller around to head home, since running teens would not make a safe environment for my newly walking one-year-old.

That is when one of the teens yelled, “Hey everybody! Get off of the playground equipment! There’s a baby here to play!”

I had somehow become accustomed to rude teenagers at this park, who were too often self-centered, (and likely skipping school). I couldn’t believe my ears! One of the girls came over, confidently looked me in the eyes with a smile and said, “Here, you can have the playset; we will go over to the woods to continue our game.”

“What planet are you from?” I asked.

OK, not really, but I could have asked that, because I was that surprised by their respectful behavior toward my son and me. Not one of them was wearing something I would not wear – nor wearing something I would be embarrassed for her to wear if she sat next to my husband on a plane.  I realized they might make good babysitters, so I asked them for their phone numbers. They excitedly gave me their names, when I realized I WAS ASKING COMPLETE STRANGERS TO BABYSIT MY KID!

I decided I needed references – which is when I asked which school they attended and found out they were homeschooled. For the first time, I thought, “These homeschoolers are different, and if this is the fruit of the homeschool tree, maybe I should stop judging them and investigate how those roots began!”

I had never heard of homeschooling until I was an adult.  Chris and I had gone to public school, and no other path for my children had ever crossed my mind. The first I heard of homeschooling was as a newlywed when I attended a family funeral where I met Chris’s cousins who homeschooled. “That is bizarre!” was my only thought.

It is sad, but my first look at almost any change is always a negative look, with my mind locked shut.

The family almost whispered about those cousins, as if they agreed on my “bizarre” label. My judging response was in the form of questions that I didn’t have the courage to ask – because I wasn’t seeking answers, only judging:

  • Isn’t that against the law?”
  • Do they think they are better than the mass public, so their children need different teaching?”
  • Do they know they can’t shelter their kids forever (assuming that is what they are trying to do) and those kids are going to have to face the real world one day?”
  • I hope they know what they are doing; lives of children are at stake!”

But seeds were planted, and they grew in God’s timing – which happened to be five years later– when I took the walk to the park.

Negative Influence

Fast forward from my park story two years, and I had a three-year-old and a baby.

My neighbor two doors down in that park’s neighborhood also had a three-year-old within a couple months of Casey’s age. She and I were very different. While my husband and I worked on beginning a business of striving for excellence in life and attended church regularly, she and her husband headed in a different direction. I devoured Dr. Dobson’s parenting books, chose to avoid allowing our children to watch TV or movies, and strived to improve myself with the same disciplines.  She had favorite soap operas, used R-rated language in normal conversation with her children or me, and often referred to her husband as the #@#$#%#$ bleep who wouldn’t clean the toilet! The f-word was her favorite descriptor; her husband was considered her servant and her children her burden to bear if they ever stepped away from the television. I will never forget the chill that ran down my back the day she excitedly told me, “Our boys will be able to walk to school together!”

I have heard that we are a product of the books we read, the words we hear and the people with whom we associate. I suddenly realized that although as an adult I can choose my books, CD’s and surrounding people, my some-day-5-year-old, would not have that option. He would be a product of his zipcode that determined which school he would attend.

During this same time, a good friend of mine innocently shared a story of her 1st grader.

English: A blackboard or chalkboard from the c...

She had gone to school to help with the class, and took pity on her son’s classmate, a 6-yr-old who was working through his lettering book. While the rest of the class used the “writing station time” to go through one letter at a time and had mostly progressed to the “R-S-T-U-V” stage, this little guy was still on the “D-E-F-G” pages. She knelt down and helped him, while he got more and more frustrated. The teacher ran over to my friend and told her to stop helping the boy. The teacher then turned to the almost tearful boy and gave him a verbal lashing for being so slow and behind the class, and he “would surely be doing letters in summer school if he didn’t pick up his pace!” My friend was upset, seeing the damage the teacher’s words could do to the boy, but not sure what to do about the situation. Obviously, there may have been much behavioral history with that child in that class, but the teacher’s lashing threats didn’t seem likely to inspire improvement. Besides, there were twenty-five other students that needed the teacher’s attention; she certainly didn’t have time to cater to every rabbit and snail, so she was choosing. I may have done the same if I were a teacher of twenty-five 6-yr-olds!

It was around this time that it dawned on me: If I were hiring someone to watch over my children 30 hours/week, it would not be a light decision. I would be interested in the person’s love for children, patience and understanding during challenges, religious stand, interest in flying planes into buildings and the many other rights and wrongs which people in our country coexist in disagreement. I believe we should take the same approach to “hiring” someone to be with our children (plus 20-30 others in the classroom) for thirty hours a week. Even if MANY kindergarten teachers could teach my children better than I, have more patience, more experience and more creativity than I, NOT ONE could love my child more than I, and therefore, we chose to homeschool…at least for a while.

Define what you want;  Learn from somebody who has it; and Do what they have done.

I hunted down the mother of those teens from the park two years prior. I was sure she thought I was crazy, (Since my oldest child was three, I was hardly putting him in school!) but I liked the fruit shown in her girls that day, and I wanted my children to display it. I wrote down a list of questions, and invited this otherwise stranger to lunch so I could grill her on them. I saved the list – and recently came across it. (The list and her answers are attached at the bottom of this letter.)

As with major decisions, we prayed while we listed the pros and cons of each schooling scenario, and then made the decision that was best for the Brady family. My goal with this week’s Letters on homeschooling is not to make my decision be your decision, but to encourage you to strive for excellence even in the education of your children. I am embarrassed to say that there was a time when I didn’t believe that my children’s education fell within my responsibility. “Isn’t that part of paying taxes?” Now I think differently.

Homeschooling

chalkboard

I have been very impressed with the homeschoolers I have met, and would love them to influence my children. When I hear, “Mom, can you wake me up at 6am tomorrow, so I can read before school?” from my daughter, or “I am selling my ski-boat that I bought when I was 13 with money from the business I started,” (selling CD’s of his piano playing) from a young man at church, I recognize fruit on a homeschooling tree. Homeschoolers do not go without criticism, though; I have met many that are too shy, some that seem non-perseverant, and a friend this week told me she knew a family of them that was “rude, just rude!” But in my humble experience, the odds are that the fruit is the kind of sweet that I want to experience in my home.

I am sure that God will continue to write a testimony for each of us. I am including links below of news articles in the past few weeks alone that continue to keep me happy to be a homeschooling mom.

In love,

Terri Brady

Related Letters to Lindsey:

Recent SHOCKING News articles:

April 13, 2013: A father finds a note in his fourth grader’s bag that says, “I am wiling toConstitutionalCrayon give up some of my constitutional rights in order to be safer or more secure.” READ MORE.

May 2, 2013: “’Can I kiss you?’ That’s what middle school girls were told to ask one another during an anti-bullying lesson at Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, NY.” READ MORE.

April 10, 2013:  MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry says, “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” READ MORE.

January 23, 2013: “Common Core” is Obama’s “War on Academic Standards.” Accepted in 45 states, it will dumb our country down, one student at a time. “It doesn’t start with the ‘low-information voter.’ It starts with the no-knowledge student.” READ MORE

March 21, 2012:  Statistics of homeschools compared to Public Schools: READ MORE

 …

hs quest

My original questions of the “stranger” homeschool mom from the park: (Her answers in her words are in red. On a future Letter, I plan to include more FAQ’s with my own answers as supplements.)

  1. How do I get official requirements?
    1. Go to www.hslda.com and look it up.
  2. Are there associations (for social interactions, etc.)
    1. Yes. Search for the nearest homeschool store, and they normally have a list. [HSLDA also has a list of homeschool associations by location.]
  3. Trading kids for certain subjects: what do you think?
    1. We have not done it often, but it is helpful in higher maths, or foreign language if you don’t have the experience.  Also, we have found that apprenticing is the best training there is, so we often trade kids to apprentice in new skills at our businesses.
  4. What about sports?
    1. In Michigan [where I lived at the time], it is the school’s option to include or not include homeschoolers. [Since then, Tim Tebow has made homeschoolers in sports a little more visible, since in FL, they are allowed to play on school teams. It varies state by state, but there are many competitive sports (gymnastics, travel soccer and baseball, for example) outside of school that are even more competitive than the school sports. Today, there are many homeschool support groups that supply sports teams which compete against local private schools.  We have also recently learned that the highest level of competitive high-school age soccer does not allow the players to play for their high schools in addition to their clubs, anyway, so homeschool’s possibly limiting sports in school would be a moot point.]
  5. What about socialization?
    1. Socialization doesn’t occur with kids – peer pressure does. Social skills come from parents.
  6. How do homeschooled kids fair in college?
    1. They do as well as public school kids. [That was her answer in 2000, however my research as my oldest entered high school shows that colleges include homeschoolers as a “normal” part of their admissions. They have pages dedicated to homeschool requirements for admissions. Also, some states (at least FL and NC that I know) have a “dual enrollment” program that begins at age 16. Academically gifted students can take college courses for “free” at the local college, and actually earn an associates degree as they graduate from homeschool high school.]
  7. Do you schedule time or do it “as you go”?
    1. We do better with a scheduled start time and rotation, but many are more flexible than I.
  8. Do you have a formal setting for school? Chalkboard? Multiple ages together?
    1. It is as formal as you like. Subjects like history – where it doesn’t matter the order in which you learn it, we all are together. Subjects like math, I do each child individually. I used to think I needed a chalk board, since that is what I was used to growing up, but I found it unnecessary; it is more intimate on paper together.
  9. Gym class? Art? I don’t want to limit my son to my ability.
    1. Oh yes! There are plenty of classes available, so you are never limited by only your ability.
  10. I am all for a Biblical foundation, but am I limiting witnessing to other people who don’t have that opportunity if I don’t put him in a school with them?
    1. By homeschooling, you help create a foundation that will be strong for witnessing. If God calls you to homeschooling, then He has other plans for the timing of your kids’ witnessing.

Another wise mom, Sue Gray, taught me her principles for homeschool:

F – Fear God not man.

A – Acknowledge where strength comes from.

C – Conform to Christ not culture.

E – Endure all things because Christ did first.

 

Related Posts

Easter with Children: Beating the Bunny

Christian Easter with Children

Dear Lindsey,

I have nothing against bunnies or eggs – any more than hearts in February, or clovers in March, but I want my kids to know that the bunny is a thief :). Ok, really, I don’t think in my “WWJD” terms that Jesus would beat up a bunny, but the title grabbed attention. In serious terms, I want children to know the real meaning of Easter: when we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior who came to take away our sin so we can go to heaven for eternity.  Wow. Look at those words:

Celebrate the RESURRECTION! of our SAVIOR! so we can live for ETERNITY!

Those words are too important to just pass over with an egg hunt and a new dress.  It means everything to me, and I didn’t want to minimize it with a secular bunny and eggs. Before I lose you, the Bradys do color eggs – if I get them in time – and hide them in a fun tradition that spills into homeschool hunts during the spring.  But I fail at decorating my house for Easter, and every year I intend to send out Resurrection cards instead of Christmas cards…which have yet to get done…because without Easter, Christmas is nothing. It is that monumental, so I thought I would tell of some ways that people have shared with me to teach children the REAL meaning in a fun and memorable way.

Easter Tree

Easter Tree 1

This was introduced to me by my dear friend, Carmen Madler.  Her idea begins each year by taking their Christmas tree, cutting off all of the branches and saving part of one to use as the cross bar. For the 40 days and nights before the resurrection (signifying Jesus’ time when he was led by the Spirit to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, Matt 4:1-2), the Madlers tell a part of the story and place something on the tree: the crown of thorns, the sign which says, “King of the Jews“, the dice (signifying the “lots”) that the soldiers cast to try to win Christ’s clothing, etc. I love this idea, since it links the meaning between the two biblical events: Christ’s birth and resurrection – in a visual way that children will remember. Of course, the decoration in the home is a constant reminder for adults as well.Easter Tree zoom

Easter Story Cookies

When I first attended a Bible study (bsfinternational.org) as a new mom, I remember a discussion about how to show the REAL meaning of Easter to children.  The following recipe was shared, and became a tradition in our home – even though we had an egg allergy and couldn’t eat them;  the message was good enough to keep the tradition. (And even now that the egg allergy is gone, the kids don’t really like to eat these cookies – they beg to make them for the story.)

Macaroon

The Night Before Easter: Make these cookies, and be sure to read the Bible passages!

  • What you need:
      • Bible
      • 1 cup whole pecans
      • 1 tsp vinegar
      • 3 egg whites
      • pinch salt
      • 1 cup sugar
      • (zipper bag, wooden spoon, electric mixer, tape)
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees (It is important to turn it on at the beginning, so it is completely preheated by the end.)
  • Place pecans in zipper bag and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.
      • Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.  Read John 19:1-3.
  • Let each child smell the vinegar.  Put 1tsp vinegar into mixing bowl.
      • Explain: When Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink.  Read John 19:28-30.
  • Add egg whites to vinegar.  Eggs represent life.
      • Explain:  Jesus gave His life to give us life.  Read John 10:10-11.
  • Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand.  Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.
      • Explain: This represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.  Read Luke 23:27.
  • So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing.  Add 1 cup sugar.
      • Explain: The sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us.  He wants us to know and belong to Him.  Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.
  • Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.
      • Explain: The color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.  Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.
  • Fold in broken nuts.  Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.
      • Explain: Each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.  Read Matthew 27:57-60.
  • Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.  Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.
  • GO TO BED!
      • Explain: We may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight.  Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.  Read John 16:20 and 22.
  • On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.  Notice the cracked surface and take a bite.  The cookies are hollow!
      • Explain: On the first Easter, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.  Read Matthew 28:1-9.
  • Sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today!
  • Eat the cookies before church:)!

Resurrection Eggs

Plastic eggs have never had such valuable content! I didn’t realize Resurrection Eggs Resurrection-Eggscould be bought when I first heard of the concept, so I made them out of my own dollar store plastic eggs, a twisted paper clip crown, a rock from the yard, cotton ball with vinegar, etc.

Whether you hide these in the yard or house, or read through the passages as you each open an egg at the dinner table, the children stay in full attention, waiting to see what will be revealed inside of the next egg. Of course, the last egg is empty, signifying the empty tomb – and the sigh can be heard from every mouth as their hearts are pulled to thoughts of the Savior.

May you be blessed with a family week of celebrating the Resurrection of the Savior!

– Terri Brady

Donating Through Dinner, Kickstarting the Heart

Dear Lindsey,

I love the idea of “required acts of service,” for my son’s school, but the pressure to do it feels wrong when he’s fighting the clock. Couldn’t the intent backfire by hardening his heart if a teen resented being “forced” to serve someone? I have had this thought many times in parenting: when I have “forced” an apology, “forced” sharing, “forced” reading, “forced” good action when the child’s heart was not in it with me. “If the right action is taught, the heart can follow,” I concluded once again, knowing I can teach the action, but only God can change the heart.

This incident began as a school requirement.

Or maybe it began when I went to Guatemala to visit orphans in October.

…Or when we started splitting allowance into Giving-Saving-Spending jars when he was 6.

God knows when the idea began, but a new chapter was written last week when Casey, my 15-yr-old, was completing his requirement of 3 hours of “Christian service” due last Friday. In the past, he has done lawn work for less fortunate, or volunteered on a soup kitchen team with classmates, but now he was down to the last week and needed to think fast. He asked me if I had any ideas.

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...

My thoughts pelted: “He could ‘make dinner for a neighbor’ and checkmark his requirement for the grade. He could babysit a friend’s kids for free; but that wouldn’t help his heart in reaching others in the name of Christ, which is probably the teacher’s goal.”

That’s when I heard noise outside. Christine, my 9-yr-old philanthropist-wannabe, who loves the thought of owning a business, had begun another one in the driveway: selling “arts and crafts” that were made from the trash in our garage. She and her neighborhood friend, Karsen, had decided to raise money for the orphans in Guatemala. She was yelling up and down the street like a town crier: “FINALLY! SOMETHING TO MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT SPENDING MONEY!” She yelled to an empty street, waving a poster in her hands.

There are less than ten houses between ours and the street’s end, so less than ten cars would be passing – probably after 5pm, and it was only 2:30. JR (7) sat patiently by the cash box in the wagon, waiting for customers. Another Norman Rockwell scene at the Brady house.

Kind dog-walkers (who must have brought their wallets!) bought $4 worth of painted soup cans and cardboard houses.

Christine was elated! She had a goal to raise money to sponsor an orphan for a month ($35min).

That’s a lot of decorated trash to sell,” I thought.

That’s when the idea developed. Casey and I ran with it.

“We could sell dinners to the neighborhood, and raise money for the orphans!”

And so it began.

Chris, the marketing expert, taught them how to word a flyer that would go out to the neighborhood. “’What’s in it for THEM?’ is what you want to put first,” he said.

The three (Casey, Christine and JR) decided “what’s in it for their customers” was

1. Donating to a good cause and

2. Yummy homemade dinner

They worded and reworded the flyer until it looked like this, with the subject line: “Donating Through Dinner.”

To all of JP [our neighborhood]: the Brady kids (Casey 15, Christine 9, and J.R. 7) are hosting a fundraiser to earn money for orphans in Guatemala, and would like to offer to make your lives easier by bringing you dinner! 
We have made delicious potpies, brownies and cookies, and all you need do is reply with how many potpies you would like. The price is $10 per 9″ pie, and for an extra $1, you will also receive 6 cookies/brownies/a mix, of your choice. 
Please reply, first come first served!
100% of the profits will go to Forever Changed International, to support Dorie’s Promise Orphanage. 
Simply answer back with your address and we will bring dinner to you! (all that is required is oven heating).
Thank you for helping us make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.
The Brady kids!
(P.S. If you have concerns about food allergies, we do too! Just ask!)
(P.P.S Please hurry and answer before dad eats all the brownies!)
 

His dad doesn’t know what a pastry blender is (an old joke in our marriage), but Casey Casey potpiesmade the crusts from scratch (with a little help from me in the rolling) and loaded the meat and veggies into pans, while Christine made brownies, JR made cookies and I stood in awe as foreman. The kitchen was full of joy – the kind that only comes through serving others.  Even the cleanup didn’t seem like work. They had lost themselves.

They sent the flyer through email distribution to our neighborhood that night, and headed for bed.

Brady BakersWithin 15 minutes, my email was active: all of the pies were sold. Orders continued into the night, and I thought about announcing they were sold out, but I tried to sit back and let the business owners decide.

The next morning on the way to school, I told Casey all of the potpies he had made had been requested and asked what he wanted me to do with the remaining orders.

He was shocked, but thrilled.

So let me get this straight: I worked for four hours and we can sponsor an orphan for five months?!” he said as he did the math of their proceeds.

“If this rain cancels soccer tonight, I hope we can do more!”
His heart was in it!

Whether it’s time or money, the joy of giving can be duplicated in no other way than …giving. Sometimes you act, and the heart follows.

19 pot pies: $190

17 desserts: $17

To an orphan: 5 months

A heart changed: priceless.

God bless,

Terri

Proverbs 11:25 Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Potpie recipe: click here

Orrin Woodward ‏‪@Orrin_Woodward

A person doesn’t feel, then act; rather, he acts, then feels. Change actions to change feelings.

Chris Brady ‏‪@RascalTweets

At the heart of our problems is the problem with our heart.

Tumor Humor, Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part IV

Related articles

Dear Lindsey,

After a week of letters (I, II and III) of my brain surgery story’s drama, I have to tell you how

Laugh

much laughing Chris and I did before, during and especially after the surgery was successful. If you are in the middle of a health battle, I hope humor can help take weight off. I never mean to offend.

God knew we needed a laugh to ease the nerves as I checked into the hospital on October 14. After fasting 15 hours, driving 2 to the hospital, going through the extensive check-in process, having IV’s started, and then sitting for hours waiting for the arterial scope the day before brain surgery was a good time for some distraction! Chris and I began going through text messages on our phones that we had not had time to read the week before. Many of them had scriptural references, so I had a Bible ready to look up the verses, while Chris read both of our phones.

A friend texted: Psalms 71:21. So I looked it up: “You shall increase my greatness and comfort me on every side.”

Another was Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

We continued, one after another, until one stopped me in my tracks: Our Florida pastor, Tom Ascol, had sent Chris a text referring to Romans 8:32, so I anxiously read the verse from my Bible,

“… He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.”

What?! I read it again silently.

“… He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.”

A lamb to a shearer? Right before they shave part of my head? A sheep to slaughter? Before brain surgery? Why would Tom send such a note today? I don’t think that’s a funny joke. Tom has a fantastic sense of humor, but his timing is really off on this one; there must be a mistake.

“What was that reference again?” I asked, hoping Chris had read the reference wrong or something.

“8:32,” Chris said.

Yep, that’s where I was and I couldn’t believe it was true.

“Romans?” Chris asked, hoping he was getting his friend Tom out of hot water.

OHHHHH I thankfully realized that I was in the wrong book: I was reading Acts 8:32.

(I laugh now when I see that I pridefully assigned blame everywhere but myself. I laugh harder to think I would EVER have thought Pastor Tom would have texted such a verse. ha!)

We went on to read Romans 8:32, “ He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

Much better.

We called the Ascols in Florida right then from the hospital bed to share the story. We laughed and praised God for the humor to relieve the stress.

In previous letters, I alluded to some of the lingo we used on purpose during this time. It’s more fun to laugh than cry, and these colloquialisms have different meanings for brain surgery patients:

– I gave the doctors a piece of my mind.

– I am no longer in my right mind.

– I am a little out of my mind.

– They had to take a piece of my brain, so I would be back on level with my husband.

– I need to have my head examined.

– I thought something was wrong, but it was all in my head.

– I needed to have the head surgeon present. (from Part II)

– This brings the urgency of life to a head (from Part III – did you catch it?)

– I think I have a screw loose. (My skull was “put back together” with titanium screws.)

– And my friend, Jen, just texted, “Your blog will really help some people, but don’t let that ‘go to your head’.” Love!

Thank You

Although I know this letter is titled “Humor with the Tumor,” I have to get a little more serious for an acknowledgement section:

There were many heroes and heroines in this story, and I wanted to take some time for acknowledging them. I did not even know the definition of the word, “serve,” until God put these people in my life. I recognize that they did not do it for me, but to serve the Lord; I was blessed by them, anyway.

I must begin by saying that if friendship is like a bank account – and love is the currency of deposits (and unfortunately withdrawals)– then the year previous to the surgery, I had bankrupted all of my friends. In my survival mode, I felt like I had nothing left to give, and had even inadvertently offended many friends by not returning calls or asking them to pick up my slack, without explaining why. I am indebted to these heroines, since they loved me anyway, and served as only Jesus could. Of course, I can’t name everyone – especially the number of strangers who visited the surgery-update blog, or sent prayers and cards that began with, “You don’t know me, but…” and took time to encourage. What a blessing they were!

First, thank you to my hero and husband, Chris. My loving knight in shining armor read the recount in these Letters to Lindsey last week and had a whirlwind of emotions again. He regretted that he didn’t do more during the year of pain, but I don’t know what more he could have done. He took over chores and diminished expectations, knowing I was going down. I think maybe God was teaching me to swim, and restricted use of lifejackets – even from my husband. His love for me then and now is irreplaceable. I kept saying his job was much harder than my own in the hospital bed – all I had to do was go to sleep.

Thank you to my brother, Tim, who traveled from Colorado to be with Chris during the surgery days. All three of my brothers returned my calls within minutes when I left them voicemail. That love cannot be duplicated.

My friend, Anna Huber taught not just me, but all of the other heroines in the story just what the word, “serve” means. Since 2008, I have often been in a position when I didn’t know what to do to help someone and I thought, “What would Anna do?!” However, many of the other ladies listed here have told me that they now ask the same question – after having experience working with Anna! She sent me cards every day leading up to the surgery, organized food for those staying in the hotel near the hospital, arranged rides for my kids for weeks after the surgery, arranged food to come to my house in the boondocks for weeks after surgery, and at one point when I texted and asked her if someone was coming to get one of the kids, she replied, “You are not supposed to be thinking! Let me do that!” Anna and her husband Mark drove the four hour round trip and visited with Chris during my less conscious moments.

My great friend and confidante, Tracey Avereyn sent me countless scriptures via text. She was the shoulder on which I could cry. She updated the blog when I was unable. In the weeks after surgery, when I required 24 hour care, she stayed with me more than her share of shifts, and made extra meals without milk and beef to be sure my son could eat as well. Of course the 6lb jar of peanutbutter delivered to my hotel room in Louisville was a favorite love note from her.

Thanks to Laurie Woodward for practically begging me to get the second MRI. How God used her! Woodwards sent flowers to Christine for her 5th birthday, a thoughtful gift the day before my admission. Laurie also flew to Michigan from Florida for a surprise visit seven days post-op. She and I could hardly visit, because the kids kept saying, “Can I play with Mrs. Woodward now?”

Nancy Jones was an immeasurable friend. Her physical therapist background combined with a caring heart provided for incredible help in my time of need. She voluntarily made the trip to the distant hospital, and massaged my horrendously sore neck (the muscles had much involvement in the surgery). On her birthday, (which I forgot in my ill condition), she helped Chris bring me into the house from the hospital discharge. She insisted on staying with me for “a shift” of nursing a week or two later, just to make sure I was really doing as well as she had heard.

Susie Hallstrand was incredible. From many phone calls before, advice on local hospitals, to voluntarily staying with me in ICU (which was a huge fear for me), her nursing background was the cherry on top of our friendship. Her faith was unwavering and a great stronghold for me. Her selflessness in keeping one of my children for the week – the one with food allergies no less – as well as making the four-hour round trip to the hospital is a quality I hope to emulate.

Shirley Barker was used by God when she “randomly” texted a friend to see if I needed muscular help, since she had a cancellation in her massage therapy schedule. She drove from Indiana to use her gifted hands on my neck muscles and really shot the starting gun for my road to recovery.

Friends and business partners, Bob and Nancy Frazzini, approached me at a meeting and asked if they could can my garden – a task that had clearly left my list of things to do that fall. It was so sweet of them to 1.) remember I had a garden and 2.) offer the service I would never have thought to ask. Every soup I had that winter reminded me of the Frazzinis’ gift and I asked myself the question, “How can I serve people like that?”

Wow. This list gets so long, but I am SO grateful to all!

Thank you, God, for sending my in-laws, Jim and Gayle Brady. One memory I have from the hospital was Chris’s mom in a heated discussion with the hospital staff. I was barely conscious to hear, “This woman has given birth four times! If she says she’s in pain, SHE’S IN PAIN!!! NOW!” She has taught me a lot about having an advocate to stand up for you in a hospital setting – especially if you will be unconscious. Being a retired hospital nurse herself, she knows how busy the setting can be for hospital staff and that it doesn’t hurt to have another eye on the situation.

Thank you to people who made the long drive to visit us in the hospital: Eric and Lori Stewart, Norm Walworth, Pastor and Mary Dickie, Chris’s brother, Pat and Jenny Brady, his parents and Mark and Anna Huber, who stayed all night with Chris.

Thanks to Tim and Amy Marks who sent food to feed the entire waiting room, probably for a year. 🙂

My parents, Ron and Sue Estes, came 1300 miles and stayed with me for three weeks, about two weeks post-op, to help me ease my way back into motherhood, which took time. It was helpful having parents who would let me do some things, and then also let me crash for lots of napping. My dad and I had some special walks outside, arm in arm, on the driveway in the cold fall air to ease my cabin fever.

Who can you trust to take your kids from you when you are having serious surgery – knowing that if things don’t go well, they will be the only buffer between your kids and the news? Four families volunteered – one for each child. What a blessing! Thanks to John and Tammy Sonnenberg, Rob and Susie Hallstrand, Doug and Tiffany Huber and Don and Chris Freeze.

Girlfriends stayed with me for eight-hour shifts, 24 hours-a-day for the first 10 days. Apparently this was needed due to my short hospital stay, and my risk for falling. At one point JR (who was 3) told me he would help me walk so I wouldn’t fall. So precious! But God sent other angels to keep me upright: Jackie Lewis, Cassie Birtles, Marsie VanBuskirk, Mallory Purdy, Tracie Clouse, Beth Morgan, Heidi Smith (who pulled an all-nighter when I was having pain-control issues, despite the fact she was working the next day), Tina Jacklyn, Meredith Cordes, and Corrie Jones – in addition to the others already mentioned. These ladies really saw me at my worst – after their love tanks were probably emptied by me the previous year – and they loved me anyway. What true friends and gifts from Above. May they hear, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant!” one day.

I know I have missed someone – but please know your reward is in heaven! I am so grateful that God allowed you to help in such a time of need.

Ladies groups made quilts and crocheted blankets, praying at the corner stitches. These afghans still reside in my house as a reminder of my leper experience. Thank you!

Val Brimsmade sent a note I still remember, and it often brings myself to right thinking. She said, “We are commanded, not requested, but commanded in Joshua 1:9 to be strong and courageous in His name.” I believe Martin Lloyd Jones says that we are abusing the gospel if we do not approach the crossing into eternity with JOY.

Thank you to the pharmacy and hospital staff: nurses Sarah, Wendy, Michael, Robin, Heather, Jackie, Keyonna and hospital executive VP, Patti who was so kind to the family.

Thank you

Thank you to people who brought or sent food and or gifts:

  • Randy and Rusti Spence – Thanks for reminding me to dance in the rain!
  • Kelly Johnson – The homemade card shower that lasted for months after surgery! (and still does today!)
  • Brenda Overman
  • Paul and Lois Nobels
  • Sarah Kingsbury
  • Mary Ann Markel
  • Sheri Stroh
  • Jen Golden
  • Ed and Lynette Zentner
  • Billy and Peggy Florence
  • Val Taylor
  • Dallin and Karree Larsen
  • Hugh and Karin Pobur
  • Brigg and Lita Hart
  • Guzzardo Team
  • Jerry and Sherry Daniels
  • Dave and Claudia Walker
  • Manase and Lisa Fotu
  • DarkAngelos
  • Manteises
  • Gertslers
  • Rhodes
  • McGlinchys
  • Nancy Deats
  • Holger and Lindsey Spiewak
  • Mike and Vi Gowen
  • Jamie and Lisa Cirello
  • Dave and Tracy McDade
  • Charlie and Polly Ballmer
  • and so many more that did not get written in Chris’s notebook during the surgery dates.

As I look back to the “leprosy” days, (referring to Luke 17 where Jesus healed ten lepers, and one came back to say thank you), I really believe that to truly say, “thank you,” to the Lord, we must also say, “thank you,” to the people He sent.

Summary

In summary, let me recall a poem I wrote years ago regarding the Luke 17 story:

THANKS AGAIN

Ten lepers were healed

By Christ’s words that day.

He said, “You are new,”

And sent them away.

They danced and they sang

With their limbs now anew.

Showed friends their new health

And all they could do

One returned thanks,

The others took for granted;

But Jesus gave freely

His gifts not recanted.

Lord, help me to be

The one of the ten

Who thinks to come back

and say, “thank you,” again.

-Terri Brady

May God bless you with much, and may you bless Him with thanks.

– Terri