Sometimes the surrender is the journey.

I’ve been stocking our freezer. It’s one of the little rituals I find myself doing when life gets uncertain- I freezer stockpiled before 2020 made it cool. It’s comforting to have all those meals ready to grab and go. It’s also a little sad to see those pathetic attempts at control all lined up in sharpie-labeled gallon ziplocks.
This current push to stockpile came from news that there was possibly a fifth child who could be heading to our family. Possibly. Maybe but we weren’t sure. But if XYZ happened, it was a definite (maybe). Fostercare is fun like that. Honestly, six years of living with some level of limbo and uncertainty are wearing me out. 
This (possible) (probable) (within the realm of possibility) news set us in a tailspin. I battled over here with the Lord. It was a hard fight. It brought up all my limping wounds from foster griefs in years gone by. It brought up all my stress and feelings of inadequacy. It made me take stock of my day-to-day in a different way and triggere…

On education and setting the table.

We are about ready for #StephensAcademy 2020-2021. Even though we’ve done this for over a decade now, every year is a bit different with different ages and challenges and opportunities. This year, we will gather around our “morning time” table with a high schooler, middle schooler, elementary schooler, and preschooler. How do we do that?, people ask.
At the center of this room stands a table that NP and I bought used to furnish our first apartment. A lot of meals have been eaten around that table. It’s been a gathering place for years and years.
It seems fitting to have our old kitchen table in the schoolroom now, because education is a lot less like an assembly line and a lot more like spreading a feast. No one asks me how we possibly provide food for a family of six. The bigger the family, the more prep might be involved, it might take more time, some might need things cut up smaller or dietary needs taken into consideration. Not everyone likes the same foods to the same extent. But a…

Beware the Instagram homeschool

I picked flowers with my 3 year old today. We practiced calling them daisies. She tromped around the top of a ski mountain in Wisconsin with her cute little self and gathered a bouquet to take to Great-Grandma at the other end of the path. I picked more and wove them into a daisy-chain crown and put them on her head and it was adorable.
For one minute.
But then her bouquet was forgotten and trampled on the ground and her brothers and big cousin pulled off petals and she took off her crown and threw a fit when I tried to put it back on her.
As I gathered those sad, rejected, trampled daisies off the ground, it reminded me of homeschooling. Now this isn’t all gloom and doom so hang with me, here.
It’s a new school year and my social media feeds are full of smiling first-day pictures, and for some families, this is the first year for homeschool pictures instead of meet-the-teacher or big-backpack-getting-on-a-bus pictures. The faces are excited but also uncertain. And I know, firsthand, how …

23 Billion Miles

Today is my 40th birthday. 
Cue the, “No way! You only look 29!” comments! Just kidding. Mostly. 🤣 
But really, I’ve officially made this circuit around the sun f.o.r.t.y. times. Google tells me that in that amount of time, our planet has traveled 23 billion miles and my point on the globe is moving at 1,000 miles per hour as we rotate and spin. Do I really expect to accumulate that kind of mileage looking as fresh-faced and new as I did at the beginning of this ride?
Getting older is a privilege, the gift of each new day stacking on the ones that came before, growing into a dizzying tower of grace. There is a confidence that comes from reaching this milestone. A confidence that I have found Jesus to be faithful and present through all my foibles and stumblings and victories and joys and losses and wrestlings. He has been with me for 23 billion miles and whatever happens in however many miles I have ahead of me, I know I won’t be alone. 
So, let’s face these next years and days with conf…

One mind

Last night I got more direct with my Bible study than I often do. Sometimes as a teacher, it’s hard to speak on things that we know are areas where we also frequently fall short, where God continues to do the hard heart-level work that makes the spot tender to the touch. But it has to be said- and said to my heart, as well. 
We are studying Philippians together this summer (over Zoom, because... 2020.) One of the themes that we just cannot get around is unity in the church, and the deep tie between unity and humility.
In Philippians 2:2, Paul exhorts the believers to “be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” 
Note that this is not a call to uniformity of thought. The early church was no less divided than we are today. Slaves and slaveowners, zealots and former tax collectors, groups of mixed culture, race, social class, political stance... and yet, Paul tells them to be of the same mind. How?!
I think verses 5 and 6 clue us in to the answer- “Have …

A 2020 homeschool peptalk

It’s time for a homeschool peptalk.I see you, feeling all the stress of 2020 somehow piling up and making planning for the new school year feel extra daunting. I see you, fielding questions from friends considering crisis homeschooling for the coming year, feeling excited for them, or fearful of legal ramifications, or conflicted about whether it’s even a good idea for them to homeschool in the first place. Maybe you haven’t been inside your church for four months. Maybe you haven’t left your house in two. Maybe your schedule is somehow returning to pre-COVID levels but with extra stress heaped up and a face mask strapped on top.God has not changed. The mission has not changed. We have been given the privilege of raising our kids with a wider view of the world and a deeper appreciation for what is true and good and beautiful. It is a worthwhile calling.We cannot control tomorrow. We cannot control how this next school year will go. What we CAN do is be faithful. Right now. Today. We c…

‘Twil Soon Be Past

I got my black dress out of the closet this morning. We have a gathering today, a time to mark the homegoing of a beloved man in our church family. I also have been talking with family members this weekend as we anticipate one of our membership going to see his King very soon. Last week I had a hard conversation with a friend as we wrestled with the fragility of our days. 
This is hard. This season is hard. 
The Bible says our days are like a vapor. Like a flower in the field. There, and gone. 
Today as I prepare my heart for the hours ahead this verse is on my mind. 
“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2
This is the end of all mankind. 
I’ve been listening to John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life. What a poignant reminder in times like these. What will I present to my King at the end of my days here under the sun? Will I give Him my seashell collection? My well…

The righteous will live (and school) by faith

Planning has begun for Stephens Academy 2020-2021. With the next year looking so uncertain in classrooms around the country, I know many are considering homeschool for the first time. May I offer a word of advice?

Fear isn’t a good reason to do, or not do, anything.

Are you considering homeschooling out of fear? Or are you considering homeschooling because you believe God is leading your family in that direction? He is big enough to be with your kids and guide your family and their teachers through the possibly tumultuous year ahead.

Are you ignoring a prompting to homeschool out of fear? Or are you choosing traditional schooling because you believe God is leading your family in that direction? He is big enough to give you everything you need to do what He has called you to do.

I’m a firm believer that there is no one way to educate our kids. Homeschool, private school, public school... this truth is still the same:

The righteous will live (and school) by faith. Not by fear.

Whatever we do,…

Choose to rejoice. On a Monday in 2020.

It’s Monday. We are still in 2020. The news is full of coronavirus spikes and protests and politics and madness. Pause with me for a moment, will you?

In Philippians 4:4-9, Paul has a lot to say to us about finding God’s peace today, right now, in the midst of this year when the world seems to be quickly derailing into crazytown. Let’s walk through the flow of what he has to say together.

Rejoice in the Lord- ALWAYS. It’s a choice. Even on a Monday in 2020.

Be reasonable - and let it shine.

Remember the Lord is near, so:
*Do not be anxious
*Instead, bring your prayer and needs AND thanksgiving to God.

There is a connection between turning to Him with our needs and concerns (instead of internet news and social media), and having our hearts and minds guarded by the PEACE OF GOD. Even when it doesn’t make sense.

We can’t choose the news, or what articles come across our feed, or what conversation is happening between coworkers today. But we CAN choose what we fix our minds on- what we meditate o…

Sincere and blameless

“In Ancient Rome fine pottery was relatively thin and fragile and often developed cracks while being fired. Unscrupulous shops would fill the cracks with a hard, dark wax, which would be concealed when the object was painted or glazed but would melt when the pottery was filled with something hot.
In ordinary light, the deception was usually undetectable, but when held up to the sunlight it was clearly exposed, because the wax appeared darker.
Reputable dealers would often stamp their products ‘sine cera’ (“without wax”) as a guarantee of high quality.” -John MacArthur
Our Christian life can look good, glazed over with church attendance and fine sounding sentiments and all manner of good things. It’s the hot and fiery seasons of life that will reveal our cracks. What are others seeing as we are being held up to the light in the pressures of 2020?
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things tha…