Tuesday, November 4, 2014

If I Go Vote, but Don't Vote, Does That Still Count?

So it's Election Day.  The day we've all been taught to go out and "do our civic duty."  The day we've been building up to with MONTHS (maybe even a year or so) of signs, speeches, news commentary, and everyone's favorite...attack ads.  (Side note...Oh-so-glad we cancelled cable many months ago and have not had to watch even one ad.)

On Facebook this morning my news feed was lit up with various posts reminding everyone that it's election day and to go vote or that one has already voted.  And then there is the cliche and semi-dire warning that "if you don't vote, you can't complain."  I was brought up, both in family and in education, to believe in the American voting system, that it was the best in all the land.  Further I was trained up to believe that it was my duty to vote, my obligation.  It's not so much that I've come to disagree with that.  In principle I still do believe in "the People" electing leaders.  And I do believe, especially given the history of just how hard the right to vote was fought, that I do have a responsibility...obligation to vote.

I also believe we have a responsibility not just to randomly show up and pick one.  We have a responsibility to educate ourselves about the ballot. Who's on it? What do they stand for?  What does this amendment or ballot initiative mean for my family, my community?  I have a civic obligation, not just to vote, but to make an educated vote.  I fear this concept is largely lost on the Electorate.  And this concept, for me, presents a dilemma?

How do I vote for a candidate when there is no candidate that is satisfactory?

What's an educated voter to do?  For years I've been told that "if you don't vote you can't complain." Or, "sometimes you just have to pick the lesser of two evils." Or, "this year you'll just have to hold your nose and vote."  Well you know what, in time I have realized that I reject that logic entirely! Our vote is too precious and was too hard fought for me to just give it away to some candidate that doesn't represent or believe in the things that are important to me.  Why should I support someone who I know to be incompetent at best or in some years down right evil at worst?  This is MY vote.  I have come to the realization that I am going to protect it, not just give it away because I only have two bad choices from which to choose.

We've been trained, as a society, in this two party system.  These are our two choices and you just pick the lesser of two evils and go home and be happy that you live in country where you have a "choice."  Um, NO.  That's ridiculous.  Because you know what, if you vote for that lesser evil then you share a responsibility in the terrible "leadership" that ensues.  You share a responsibility in whatever damage is inflicted on your community, state, country as a result of your "less evil" vote.  And all the while, when that happens we console ourselves with this notion that, yeah it's crappy now, but it would have been worse if we had voted for the other guy.  Poor governance is NOT a consolation prize for poorer governance.  What is wrong with us!!  How long has it taken for us to lower our standards and devalue our precious vote to this point?  And what will it take for us to stand up and fight for our vote?  To demand better choices?

In my own state we have just a handful of elections on the ballot.  One of which is governor.  My choices are a man, running as a conservative, who does not represent IN ANY WAY conservatism.  He represents himself, his own interest, his cronies' interest.  He is most certainly NOT a Godly man.  Running against him is primarily a man who represents a platform I find abhorrent, and a handful of other candidates who have not bothered to mount enough of a campaign for me to make an informed decision.  Bottom line, I could not stand before God and justify my vote for any of these candidates.  So I truly believe that I can not vote in this particular category.  It would just be wrong.

In another, more local election we have state representatives on the ballot.  My choices are a man, whom I have had personal dealings with and have seen first hand that his words don't match his actions.  This obviously leaves me with no confidence.  Running against him is a woman who, again, represents a platform I find abhorrent and has not been real impressive when I've heard her speak.  So in this category I feel that I can not vote for either candidate.

I am still going to the polls today.  There are a few offices where I do feel confident to cast a vote and there are some amendments I feel very strongly about.  So while I will be voting on some things today I will be leaving some of my ballot blank.  Does this mean I have "no right to complain" when my state is governed poorly?  I don't believe that.  I'm casting a vote of silence.  I am refusing to further accept the lesser of evils as my choices.

I realize that this will not change the outcome of the election.  One of the "evils" will be elected governor.  But at least I will know I didn't put them there.  And I do believe that if the Electorate would stop buying into the notion that we are just stuck with the two choices we are served up or that our vote can only "count" if we vote within the two-party system, things would change.  The power really does still lie with the People.  The People just have to find it within themselves to remember that.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why We Homeschool

Homeschooling seems to be a hot topic lately.  Maybe it's because I have several homeschoolers that pop up in my facebook feed.  Maybe it's because the Navigator and I belong to a few homeschool advocacy groups.  Maybe it's because in the last year, three different friends of mine pulled their children from traditional schools and began homeschooling.  But I'm seeing a lot more articles (and controversies) about homeschooling.  In main stream media most of what I read about homeschooling is negative.  In other circles I see plenty of positive.  In our own life our decision to homeschool ultimately wound up costing us a church membership.  So I thought I'd take a minute to explain why we homeschool.

The Navigator and I made the decision to homeschool before we were even married.  We didn't even know if God was going to bless us with children, but we knew if He did then we would be educating them at home.  Our reasons are not due to a bad experience in traditional school.  Nor are they based on studies and statistics.  And while there are many many solid pragmatic arguments to be made for homeschooling, we do not homeschool out of pragmatism.

Our decision is a spiritual conviction.  A reason rooted in faith and obedience to God and His Word.  God's Word gives a clear mandate to train up our children in His ways.  To "teach them diligently," to speak of Him "when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."  Fathers are commanded to lead their children, instruct their children, to "command them in the ways of the Lord."  Still further we see warnings, "Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life."

The Navigator and I are not ones to pluck a single verse out of context and then form a whole plan around it.  So our study has been exhaustive.  And after careful study and prayer, realizing that our most important job as parents was to teach them the way to Salvation,  we came under the conviction that we needed to choose an educational path for our children in which all things were taught and examined through the lens of Scripture.  A path in which God did not exist in a parallel universe, not "separate but equal" but was THE focal point of all things.  

This immediately eliminated public education.  Having been an educator, I have many friends still in the system.  This is not a slight on them.  It is a point of fact.  Our government and court system have declared that Christianity can not be taught in their schools.  And if any type of religion is taught then ALL religions must be taught and presented as equal.  Teachers may not pray or give as a reason for moral lessons the Bible.  This is just not acceptable for us.  We do not believe we can fulfill God's many commands about teaching our children His ways if while placing them in institutions where God is not only not allowed, but in many instances, despised.  

That's it.  It's really that simple.  We are seeking to live out the faith we claim.  To obey God in the best way we are able, as we understand God's Word. Thus far, we have been richly blessed by our decision.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Church of Emotion

About 7 months ago the Navigator and I made the difficult and painful decision to leave the church we had been members of since moving here.  This was difficult on many levels.  In the first place we don't take church membership lightly.  We believe that the Bible teaches that believers should be members of a church.  Beyond that, we took our time before joining this particular church.  We prayed over the concerns we had, we asked questions, and ultimately decided to join.  In doing so we covenanted with the other members of the church.  So leaving was not a rash, knee jerk decision.  For us, the only reason we would leave a church (except obviously in the case of relocation) is if there was a solid, Biblical reason to do so.  Sadly, in this case, there was; which grieved us greatly.

Another reason leaving was difficult was because we were plugged in there.  These were some of our first and closest friends here, or so we thought.  It was a small group...8 families or so.  Our children were plugged in there.  It was very personal and devastating.  This is the reason it has taken me so long to blog about this.  I went through a true grieving process with this experience.  It was just too dang hard to even talk about for a long time.  I could believe it was going to end like it did.  I was holding out hope for a different outcome.  Then I was angry.  Then I went through the "well maybe if they...or well what if..." Then I went through the time of being profoundly sad.  And finally I  accepted the situation for what it was and began the process of moving on.

I have debated and debated what and how many details to include.  The whole thing, start to finish, is a crazy long story.  In retrospect this outcome was probably always coming.  Ultimately I have decided just to write about the crux of the issues and summarize the details.  I am (as the Navigator and I have always been) willing to discuss the nitty gritty of it with those that are interested, but I'm not going to get into all of that on here.

In a nutshell, the issue that caused the whole situation to be irreconcilable was that instead of being a church of Christ, one where all things were tested according to Scripture, it became (or maybe always was) a church ruled by emotion, where things were tested according the whim and emotion of a few. This seems to be a growing trend in churches nationwide.  And it's a trend that can never work.  It will always end poorly.  Because there is no standard.  There is no constant.  There is only emotion and irrationality.  This is not to say that we are to be robots.  We aren't.  God created us as relational beings.  He gave us emotions.  God has emotions.  But when dealing with one another, particularly in bearing with one another's sins, emotion can not be our guiding force.  We can't depend on whim to steer our path.  When we do that we allow the Deceiver a strong foothold on which to work.  

To summarize, a division arose within the church over the issue of home schooling.  To be clear, the issue did not stem from anything the Navigator and I said/did.  Well, there was some vague reference to a random comment on a facebook post about 4 months prior to us even finding out about all the division, but no one could ever show us the comment or repeat it.  The issues were actually with another member.  The problem came in in three main ways.  First, the pastor refused to lead on the situation.  He just, in his own words, was "hoping the whole thing would just go away."  Now, anyone who has been in any relationship (friendship, business, etc) knows that issues allowed to fester never just go away.  They just get hairier and uglier.  The second main problem was those who got upset, instead of going to the brother they were upset with, met only amongst themselves, stirred one another's anger, and continued to discuss it behind the back of this other member.  The pastor was aware of and participated in this.  And the third, but most important issue, was that when the poo really hit the fan and it escalated beyond repair, the pastor and those claiming to be upset REFUSED to go or even discuss Scripture as the solution.  Refused.

In the days leading up to our decision a flurry of things happened.  One of which was, under the guise of reflecting on things, our pastor sent out a series of links to very anti homeschool blogs.  I'm just going to say one more time, up to this point the Navigator and I had not said anything about our position on homeschooling.  In fact, as of the writing of this blog not.one.person. from the old church has ever even asked us why we homeschool.  Anyhoo, as if the "please reflect on these anti homeschool blogs" then the pastor threw down an ultimatum to another member.  It was as follows, "stop posting about homeschool on your own facebook page or leave the church."  Yes, you read that correctly.  Yes, that happened.  Yes, really.  

At this point the Navigator did step in.  He spoke to the pastor directly (not our first conversation about the situation, btw) as well as 2 of the other men (whose wives were at the center of the drama and pot stirring), also not the first conversation.  It became clear in the course of the conversation that these men, though not elected, had been operating as a de facto session of sorts and had made the ultimatum decision together.  The Navigator pleaded with these men to think this through.  He pointed out that these actions were not at all in keeping with first and foremost the Bible or with the Church Constitution we had all signed onto.  It didn't matter.  They were whipped into a frenzy.  They kept saying, "this isn't about you.  It has nothing to do with you."  As if a setting a precedent of basing these types of decisions on emotion didn't affect ALL members of the church.  The Navigator asked them point blank, "where does that leave us?  What if my wife posts about her day schooling the children?  Will we then be told to stop posting or leave?  What about the next 'controversy' that comes up?  Say...singing only Psalms or both hymn and Psalms...would dissent again be met with 'just don't talk about it or leave'?"  There was literally no answer.  Silence or "I don't know."

And so we took a step back.  We prayed about it.  We sought counsel from spiritual mentors.  We looked to Scripture.  And we realized we could not stay. We did take the time to compose a letter to the congregation outlining the details of the situation and major issues (you see, much of what happened was done behind the backs of about 1/2 the church families) using the Church Constitution and Scripture.  None of the men, not even the pastor, to date has responded.  That is their answer to things...just pretend it doesn't exist...make it go away.

The whole situation was so draining, exhausting, devastating.  And the women...the ones I thought were my friends.  The ones I had confided in, shared with, lauged with, cried with...most I heard nothing from, except the unfriending of me on facebook LOL.  I have heard from 2.  One made sure to tell me she knew they were "always good to us." And the other was downright hateful...went right for the most personal hurtful things she could say...no wait...text.  

God has been gracious and has allowed time to heal some of the hurt.  He has also allowed for careful reflection.  And that has not always been easy.  We've had to own our part in this.  You see, this church is indeed a hot mess and will always struggle because they are led by a man who is just not equipped to pastor a church and because they are ruled entirely by emotion and whim.  But the truth is, we were guilty of making emotional decisions as well.  We had some concerns from the get go.  Concerns over pastoral qualification, concerns over doctrinal differences.  But we fell in love with the people there.  They were so fabulous (right up until we didn't get on their side) and such a tightknit group.  We wanted to be part of that.  And so, we talked ourselves around some the concerns we had.  We told ourselves we were comfortable with the answers we had gotten. We told ourselves that maybe God had us in this place to teach them some of the things we knew of the reformed faith (this was a fairly new "reformed" church).  We let our emotions, our desire to be around these folks, cloud our judgment.  We know that everything happens according to God's good purposes and is useful and even good for us.  And these past months have definitely been a time of stretching and growing for us.  

Once I came to know the full extent of the disdain toward homeschooling that existed from the top down I felt terribly guilty that I had ever put my children in that path.  Thankfully they were largely unaware of the reality.  But parent guilt is a powerful thing.  As we began the search for a new church we found ourselves to be very guarded...totally walls up.  We wanted to plug in, to find a new home, but we were wary, examining everything with probably overly critical eyes.  We were fearful we might get ourselves in another bad situation.  It's been hard to work through.  Thankfully the Lord has worked in us, to help us let go of the past and move forward.  And we have moved forward.  We have forgiven hurts that will never be acknowledged.  We have solidified and grown confident in our held beliefs.  We have leaned on the Lord.  We regrouped and remembered our mantra to trust God, hold hands, and keep moving forward.  We have found a new church home.  We went in cautious and guarded, but God has given us the peace we have prayed for and set a clear path before us.  And we thank Him for that. 

Monday, May 5, 2014


When I began this blog I said I would not hem myself in with rules about how often I would blog or topics I would limit myself to.  I said I would make no apologies for gaps between postings, because of all the different hats I wear "blogger" is pretty low on the priority list.  But I need to make an exception...sort of.

When I put up the post about the Ladybug a few weeks ago I realized it had been well over a year since I had posted.  I wish I could just chalk up all that time to the business of life, but I would be lying to myself.  You see, something happened, or tried to happen on my blog and I let it rattle me.

Shortly after I had posted about celebrating the Navigator, a comment came through for moderation.
From the beginning I set my comment controls to "moderate."  For those that don't know this means that I have to approve any comments to the blog before they are posted.  I had however, until this point, allowed anyone to comment and anyone to view this blog.

This comment was horrible.  It was a VERY nasty comment meant only to cause harm and hurt to my husband and family.  The comment came in from "anonymous."  However it was crystal clear to us exactly who made this.  A cowardly person who has a long and storied history of verbal and emotional abuse.  This is a person from whom the Navigator and I put up with many many things, but when he turned his behaviors toward our children the Navigator made the very painful but very right decision to sever the relationship altogether.  Sometimes people are just toxic and you can not risk the well being of yourself and certainly not of your children by being around them.  It is important to note though, that the relationship had been cut off for well over a year before this comment happened and we had had zero contact with this person from that time.

Needless to say when I opened my email that morning (Good Morning to Me), I was shocked.  It felt like I had been sucker punched.  The Navigator was just heading out the door to work and saw the look on my face.  I didn't want to tell him.  I knew it would hit him even harder than it hit me.  But there was no hiding it, especially since I had already gasped audibly upon seeing the viciousness of this particular comment.  So I had to show him.  And then he had to leave.  And so we each had to work through the emotions of yet another attack from this person...this coward...anonymous.  I felt horrible knowing that was the Navigator's send off to work.  I felt horrible I had ever started blogging.  I felt sick to my stomach that I was even dealing with this...again.  It was all my fault.  I had invited this by putting my life...no, our life out into the blogosphere.  What had I done?! I was angry at myself for my naivete.  I mean, in my rational mind I knew, I knew that anything I posted could be read by quite literally anyone at anytime.  But in my little bubble I figured there were 4, maybe 5 people that read this blog.  It.never.even.occurred to me that this person was reading here.  And now that I knew all I could think of was damage control.

I briefly considered taking the blog down altogether.  But somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that would be letting this person win.  I changed my privacy setting to only allow those with a google sign in to post and I of course left the moderate settings on.  This still felt a little like letting anonymous win, but it also irrationally made me feel safer.  I told myself this was my blog and no one was going to force me out of it or control my posts.  But that wasn't the reality.  I did post a bit after that, but fewer and far between.  I found myself thinking of something to blog about but then questioning who was still reading.  I found myself feeling this intense need to protect my family's privacy, to be overly cautious about sharing any parts of our lives.  I didn't want anonymous to know anything, good or bad, that was going on in our lives.  This was, of course, totally irrational on my part because this person has access to our lives...at least random updates and some pictures through other family members.

Over the course of this last year or so I often found myself mulling over blog posts, thinking of all sorts of things I wanted to put out there.  You wouldn't believe the back log of posts floating around in my mind.  haha  I finally, FINALLY, had to come to terms with the fact that I had let anonymous win.  I had given over to fear and anger.  He had accomplished most likely the very thing he had set out to do.

So I'm making an exception to my no apologies rule just this once.  I'm apologizing to myself.  I'm not sorry for being sporadic in posting.  And I'm not sorry for establishing my blog from the beginning with no pre set rules or expectations for myself or my writing.  But I am sorry for giving someone so petty, so deliberately vicious, so abusive this much control for so long.  I'm sorry I allowed myself to give into fear and anger.  I'm sorry I didn't just keep on moving after I deleted that comment and forget I ever saw it. I will not do that again.  I will, in the future, should it happen again, consider the source, hit delete, and move on with my life.

So there ya go.  Sorry.NotSorry

P.S.  I have readjusted the controls to allow anyone to read on here again.  But I will continue to moderate comment...with NO apologies for doing so.  :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Celebrating Little Man

From his birthday in Dec.
This guy...I don't even know where to start!  I can't believe I haven't written about him before.  He is my first born, forever my baby, no matter how much of a man he grows into.  :)

Little Man is just that.  Our little man.  He is smart, funny, engaging.  Little Man can hold a conversation as easily with a 2 year old as he can with a 70 year old.  He has that...quality...about him...that innate ability to meet a person right where they are and jump right in.  He has been this way from the beginning.  We often joke that he will have a career in politics.  This guy has never met a stranger.
In some ways he is more at ease around adults then with peers.  Don't get me wrong.  He loves to play and do all the regular kid things, but he genuinely likes to stop and talk to folks.  Really talk to them.  He listens, he asks questions, he thinks of others before himself. He takes on worries that aren't his.  He has one of the biggest hearts I've ever known.

Little Man has a spiritual depth that challenges us regularly.  His questions and insight often catch the Navigator and me off guard.  We find ourselves immersed in conversations about God and spirituality that we have not expected to be having.  Good questions.  Tough questions.  Important questions.

He takes his job as a big brother seriously.  He's serious about aggravating his sisters.  hahah  But he is also serious about protecting them.  About reminding them he loves them, about taking care of them.

Little Man talks to us.  About everything.  :)  He doesn't hold back or hide things from us.  He is clear with us on his feelings, his fears, his likes and dislikes, his worries, his goals.  I pray the Lord will let it always be so.  He tends to preface every conversation with "can I tell you something?"  Long ago I made a habit of always saying, "you can tell me anything."  I hope, I pray that he always knows this, even as the things to tell us get harder in life.

He is so creative!  Currently he is working on (and has been for some time now) his own zoo.  He has gathered up his collection of toy animals and created individual habitats for the various groups of them.  We have areas all over the yard and in his room for the different exhibits.  He has made business cards, maps of the zoo, a business plan for how it will operate.  He has even enlisted his sisters as employees and has them sometimes feeding the animals or cleaning their "cages."  It is quite the plan, really.  He says when he grows up he plans to run a zoo.  I have no doubt.

Right now he is into anything outdoors and "manly" he can get into.  Loves fishing, being outside.  He is anxious for Spring so he and the Navigator can go camping and hiking.  Any day we've had lately that was half way decent to be outside in, he was out there, even if he was bundled up and only lasted 15 minutes in the cold.

He's quite the planner.  So this last birthday (yes, I realize that was in December) he planned pretty much the whole thing and left the execution to me.  He wanted a Duck Dynasty party so we everyone wore beards, we played pin the beard on the Redneck (his idea), shot stuffed ducks with a nerf gun, and ate an alligator cake.  He's already working on next year's plan.  hahaha

We are so grateful God gave this Little Man to us.  He presses us to be our best selves.  To be the parents God has appointed us to be.  We love you so Little Man.  You bless us daily.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Celebrating the Lady Bug

Oh the Ladybug! This amazing little lady flitted into our lives just over 4 years ago and has blessed our lives so richly.

The Ladybug was a surprise from the moment we learned of her impending arrival and continues to surprise us all of the time.

I say she flitted into our lives, because...well...she did.  She does.  She's our little pixie.  It's almost as if she doesn't actually walk or run, but floats and flits everywhere she goes.  She has this ethereal quality...this fairyness (did I just make that word up)...this free spiritedness about her that is hard to describe.  If you've spent 5 minutes around her you know what I'm talking about.

Sometimes the youngest in a family can be slower to talk and do things for themselves because their siblings do it for them.  Not this Ladybug.  She has been speaking in sentences since around 18 months. She has no trouble asserting herself and possesses a confidence that is hard to rival.

The Ladybug generally announces herself in a room with a boisterous laugh or by jumping into the room.  She giggles at almost everything and when she gives someone a hug or kiss she kicks her leg back, like in an old movie.  She is a free spirit, adventurous, spontaneous, loud, uninhibited.

About 1.5 years ago
Often, because she is such a free spirit, because she is generally all about the fun and is happy and loving she is underestimated...seen as a cute and silly little bit.  And then you watch her.  And then you talk to her.  And then you listen to her and you realize how unbelievably smart this kiddo really is.  I know, every parent thinks their child is smart, but the Ladybug really is unbelievable.  

She thinks about things we read to her.  Thinks about conversations she hears and takes part in.  She understands far more than I think even we realize.  I love the way her brain processes things.  I love to hear her perspective on things.  Ladybug is such and empathizer.  She shows genuine concern and love.  She does everything full throttle and wears her emotions on her sleeves.  When she cries it breaks your heart.  When she laughs you can't help but laugh with her.  

We love our little Ladybug.  She is her own unique little self and fully owns that.  She brings joy to our days and challenges us in many ways...in the best sense of the word.  What a blessing this little bit continues to be in our lives! We love you to the moon and back Ladybug. 

This year the Ladybug wanted a Plum Pudding party. She helped design and make the cake herself.  Of course. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quick Update

We are alive and well and crazy busy.  I have about 10 different blog posts planned out in my mind, but no time to write them.  haha  For now just enjoy my cute kids. :)