10 November 2018

Paradise Lost

These past 24 hours I watched places where significant adolescent memories were made burst into flames. I am a Californian through and through. I am a 5th generation Californian hailing from the Bay area where my Grandfather was one of the first to build hot tubs. With no work experience besides driving tomato trucks, and no college education, he started a million dollar business with hard working hands. My Great Aunt, his sister, was one on a very small list of women during her time to graduate with a Masters degree from Berkeley.  It wasn't until I was a teenager I ever drove past Reno, Nevada.
California has everything from sea scapes, (I spent significant time in places like Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Fort Bragg) to snowy mountains (where I lived part of my childhood), country rooted farms, and hippy villages, beach towns, big flashy cities, toting their Hollywood insignia, and desert places (I spent my college age encamped there, wrangling kids from the lake to evening Bible service). Slow food started a movement just below the bay area there. Hippies fanned the flames of protest against a never ending war, gay and lesbian communities felt safer in S.F. (because fearing for your lives should not be a thing), countless immigrants blessed us with their sense of family, and can I say, AMAZING food. CA has been on the cutting edge of progress in many areas, the I.T. community lights up Palo Alto. It is America's bread basket.
Paradise is just one ridge over from where I grew up. It's a small town outside of the only home I had ever known until college. It. Is. Gone. Maybe the biggest fire devastation in CA history. 6,000 + homes, lives forever changed. A place I cruised down a creek saddled neatly in a black inner tube to an ancient covered bridge, one of a kind, no longer with us, sealing memories no fire could ever change. I can blink through this to the other side, but a lot of people are struggling to.
California is on fire. Please pray.

03 September 2018

Verse Memory

We had just finished a piano session with the boys' teacher. She is an extremely great lady (so is her mom) and was my son's 1st and 2nd grade school teacher.

I am not sure how it came up, but somehow it dropped that my boys were learning 3 sets of verses for different groups.

She gave me this look of confusion. "I can't believe it," she remarked "when we send verses home with the kids for Sunday School the parents tell us it's too much, because of the ones they are learning at the Christian school."

In my head I was laughing. Oh no. We take what we can get! I am not saying I am on top of it all, but we are there with bells on. Hear me?

I remember fondly this preacher who had locked himself in a basement trying to get over an addiction to pornography or something, drinking, maybe? Depression....I don't know. He was stuck somewhere and decided to retreat to the basement and learn scripture.

He preached at the front of our little chapel on the Christian campground, pointing into the air in front of him, seemingly being able to view the scripture we could not see,  and tell us "In Romans, about the 6th chapter, a few verses down, it says..." and then recite it to a dumbfounded audience.

This was the same guy who I will never forget said, "pay your kids to learn verses. It doesn't matter how, or what motivates them. They are getting the word in their hearts."

Now I can hear the naysayers. "Pay my kids to learn God's Word? Perish the thought."

This is where I would side with the "we don't worship the Bible" syndicate. God gave us this Word to learn and learn well. These words change lives. It changed the life of this man standing right in front of me at that little chapel in the woods, to the an astounding degree.

What I am saying, and I sincerely hope I am not wrong, that it isn't, for sure, beneath me to bribe my kids to learn it with treats or money, and I don't think it's "beneath scripture."

Having said that. In our house we have what we call "Judo Verses". They learn the verses, they get a prize. We learn them around the time we go to Judo class every week (so we don't forget). We don't have the blessing of Awana in our area, so we connect it to something.

This fall we'll learn this. To show you how little I had to work on it, I pulled it straight outta my own Bible study by Beth Moore (The Quest).

Tape it up on the kitchen cupboard. Done.

Lastly, I know that Americans are super over their heads, most of the time, with stuff to do, but if you are like me and you don't have access to Awana, i.e. a group of peers for your kids challenging them to learn scripture, my friend started this super simple format for neighborhood outreach and verse memory, and I just have to pass along the method.

All that it takes is one hour per week, one friend to help you from your church, a passage of scripture to memorize and a pot of chili (or whatever. We rotate the same meals and start over every month. Nobody is joking around about streamlining. Nobody.). She, in sincere seriousness, starts at 5:30 on Wednesday nights, her husband sings a song to get things started, she does a little song and/or game over a verse or two, the kids split up to tell their verse to the likes of me (who brought the side toppings for potatoes and made sure the meal was set up), feeds 'em, and kicks all the neighborhood kids (unchurched kids who were actually excited to come) out the door at 6:30 with a passage started of God's Word, and a belly full. That's literally it.

Outreach- check
Scripture memory with peers- check
Feed people- check
Show God's Love- check check check

 one. stinking. hour.


Admittedly, I can be somewhat of an isolated person. My vision for my life was to have kids, work in a ministry.... far away from people (ask me how that works...ok, don't), and homeschool.

None of those things have worked out, except for the having kids part. I wanted five, I have two beautiful boys.

I am not pushed out of my box very easily, but the first shock came when I discovered my husband had no intention of moving from Germany back to the states, he was staying in a place where homeschooling is illegal. I might not have been in panic mode, exactly, but I was definitely relieved to discover that there was a Christian school within 2 hours (just kidding, but for real) from my house and quickly made friends with like minded isolationists. ;) Fear of the outside world, I have come to discover, is not a proper motivation for Christian schooling or homeschooling. "Greater is He that is in you." I would definitely argue, however, that it can be a better education. The same God that is over your school or church, is the same God over that scary place over there. 

The hardest blow, as far as schooling was concerned, came when I petitioned a different Christian school to accept my children for the following year. The youngest one they would take on, the oldest one "had a learning disability, we won't take him." I. was. devastated.

It wasn't that I didn't know that he had difficulties, that was why I wanted him to repeat a grade at a different school. It wasn't that I had not had conversations with his teachers on the subject of comprehension. It was that he was rejected from a Christian school. My catch all. My "rock of ages".

Talk about the earth caving in. For a solid month I was searching for schools. I had to get him out of the current situation he was in. He was just sinking, present, but not there.  Email lines were in a frenzy with the family, I'm hearing "there's nothing wrong with him" to "homeschool!" <---technically illegal, but feeling so absolutely hopeless over the whole situation and very tempted to break the law. (He was coming home every day telling me how dumb he was, how his brain didn't work).  I had to find a place that A) wasn't a drop off zone for kids who didn't fit in the mold B) a place where he was accepted for who he was, met where he was, and believed in

Before I tell you how God answered, I guess I need to tell you what He did in me. It wasn't pretty. I was a wreck. I wanted to dust off my feet right in front of that school and leap right on out of the whole German school system. There was no consolation. There was nothing anyone was going to be able to tell me to make me feel better, yet, that was precisely when everyone had an opinion, as if timed, amIright?

I laid on my beautiful son's bed, tears streaming down my face. In that brokenness came heart redemption. It was an opportunity to lay down more of my life. It was the opportunity to see, though I could not see at all. Rest, when there was no place to lay my head. Quite the conundrum. But it is to these conflicting places God calls us.

As a last resort I halfheartedly walked down to the tiny, one building school in our town (there is a fellow believer in my town, who had been praying we would come and be a light, incidentally.) I sat in the Principal's office wondering if I should even mention what had been said about my oldest, as she was inquiring as to why we had all of the sudden decided to come (she knew where we lived and who we were....creepyish).  I gave my explanations as plainly as I could, striving to not sound like a lunatic who would drive an extra 2 hours a day, just to go to a different school, that I now wanted to remove my kids from suddenly. "I want my oldest to repeat." Those inquisitive eyes. "We were turned down from another school because they say he has a learning disability."

She inquired some more. Well, can he read? Yes. Does he know German? Yes. The inquisition turned to a subject change. "I am going to need you to fill out these papers and turn them into me soon...."

"Wait, what?....I mean, is it going to be a problem?"

In her German way, "I don't see why." Off to the subject at hand, emergency numbers, etc.

"It can't be." I thought to myself. Just like that.

What I knew then was that God had stopped the search. Stopped the driving for hours on the road. Stopped the always seeking to isolate into Christendom, and was endeavoring to stop the fear, and begin a new work in my life and my son's lives.

However, I could not very well send my oldest to another year of sitting in class but with his eyes glazed over and his mind far away, and now with little spiritual influence from his teachers. No, we aren't just going to repeat things, hopelessly. We will try to improve the situation with resources available to us. This isn't against God, this is WITH God.

I believe that while I was searching through possible homeschooling curriculum,(I am telling you, a full month of frenzy), He brought me to "GEMM". Check it out over in the links, as well.  Keane has started the program with flying colors and great enthusiasm.

I also have found new enthusiasm for, not just my kids, but other kids in my church to be in the Word. We recently went camping with a small group of kids from our church, all attending public school. Right before my eyes, my kids were surrounded with their peers...going through the same thing. One is transitioning to a public school at the same time my kids are. We talked about staying in God's Word, and keeping each other accountable, you know, between the hiking and the swimming and the marshmallows. As a side, wonderful note, the oldest boy took my son, MY SON with bones like stones, and minimal swimming skills, to the deep end of the pools and OFF THE HIGH DIVE, or the one next to the highest! He was so proud of himself, he insisted I retell the story, I think so that he could actually believe he did it.

God was not asking me to stop intervening. OH no. But intervene His way, and for His kingdom. Not asking me to give up. Nope. He wanted me to give up my way. My viewpoint. My perspective for His. 

btw, His is way better. srsly.

28 July 2017


17 March 2017

What is the Vision for this Book?

I am not really looking at a Christian audience for this book, though I am a Christian, it has more of a textbook feel to me. Therefore, I am really not qualified to write it....yet. "Nourishing Traditions" written by a woman passionate about food and her research, but no degree, as far as I am aware, co-wrote the book with a MD in Nutrition. It is an excellent book that SHOULD be used as a textbook, based on the work of Weston A. Price (another Dr.). I would like to see this idea of Emotion Blocks used as a tool for those who are visual and are emotional/relational impaired and/or damaged by abuse, deployment, drug use, etc. The list goes on and on. The following is an explanation of the test that was done for my son as I observed it. I would just like to take this to a more mainstream level, I'll explain more, when it comes to this epidemic we call autism. or any other relational impairment. My son was hell on wheels...er legs for any teacher totally unaware of his condition. He didn't appear to be listening, he would act out and hit somebody, zone out, play with his hands, anything BUT pay attention in class, starting from two years of kindergarten (different here in Germany) on into his first years of school. What to do? He could not sense the teacher was getting upset, he did not catch the tone, the pressure, the "signs" as it were, nothing. This didn't surprise me at all, I lived with him. He had just learned, early, when mom talks, it's important. In fact, I had to go to his classroom and sit in the back for awhile to keep Keane on task. Turns out, just a little more stiffness was necessary for the strong willed side of him. (I love him to his toes). So here is what they did. They would post a smiley face for him to see that things were going well, and if his behavior was going downhill, the face would move down a graph into the red zone and change to a frowny face. This seems simple, almost obtuse, mean even, but it was the ONLY thing that would communicate to Keane in the way Keane needed to be communicated with. And, goodness, did he react to it. The truth is, a lot of these people HAVE NO idea that what they are doing is affecting others in a negative manner, and in some cases these poor people are just trying to survive. I want to build, with expertise, a visual tool for them to refer to.

07 March 2017

the last one

Four blocks, fifth section.
This is strangely connected to the dead line on the other side. This is a sociopath, passive in their destruction of others, because the destruction is usually centered upon themselves, i.e. addiction. On the other end (the dead line), these folks appear to be somewhat operational in public, yet are vicious and abusive to all that know them well. Over here on the passive side of this sociopath arch, they are rendered useless to society, usually end up homeless, care facilities, a burden to their family, unable to keep jobs, they hardly function. Extremely locked in by their emotional/relational break down. They are easily manipulated. Often you will see the male side and the female side of this arch forming a duo. She is extremely needy and can't see through his passive aggressive behavior that, at the onset, seems pretty lively and exciting, or maybe his aggression makes her feel safe in some weird way. Anyway it's a match made in...ends with an "L". She is NOT in any way, immune to being abusive and landing on the other side, vise versa, that is the nature of this arch way. And he, usually when he is caught find himself extremely remorseful....no change. The sad thing is that EVERYONE at some time or another has battled with this arch, and furthermore the way they treat their children or others, can influence them into becoming decided members of this menacing club. There are obviously levels and different extremes, and that is why I would like to study this more. I think sometimes we are unaware of the way we are affecting people, I hope this will be a tool to help others VISUALIZE proper relationships with others. Lots to do.

04 March 2017

Now for the Women

Pictures for this one. (We are talking about block section #4 with 3 blocks in it for the Emotion Blocks concept I am working on to help people emotionally/relationally function). As a Reminder...
Starting with...
Ladies, maybe we've seen this one before. We laugh....while the men we insist upon taking along with us on our emotional roller coasters....cry...or try to find an escape...or visit the local bar....or avoid coming home....or... People in this category are self absorbed. Somehow logic has left the building. Reflection has left the building. Moving forward in a orderly fashion has left the building. A lot of things besides our emotional drives have been sold down the river. While we, as wives (I'll be gender specific here), sometimes fret that our husbands have no earthly idea what is going on in the house (we lack the emotional capacity to stop jumping to conclusions that our kids are being neglected<---our husbands know we are thinking like this). He obviously doesn't know what is good for him, either, dag nabit, because of what so and so said last week at church. We keep all the tabs open, you see, all. the. time.....constantly reaching out our feelers...getting the input from every output source. Our m.o. is the more feelies that confirm our lives are in the same safety net that we perceive to be around us, the more we feel fulfilled and safe. 

Women here in this zone are empty. They either try to manipulate to fill the space or get their husbands to understand the unexaustible "need" (invariably changing from day to day), cut down others (gossip) to compensate, over eat, drink, withdraw, over spend, etc. Can we please look up at the emoji pic again for a moment. We are asking a fish to fly. We have added all these emotional tabs to our lives and the more we add them, the more we get frustrated he isn't hopping along with us...so that when he finally senses something might be upsetting us, he ventures to ask what might be wrong (scared out of his ever loving mind, I might add), but it only results in a blank stare back at him or a sneer. Just as he suspected. Our problem started at the first tab that we didn't nip in the bud, keep under emotional control, and if serious, address. Since we lost the emotional response to that supposedly "life changing challenge" in the first tab (i.e. your husband didn't notice the new pic Franky had drawn), we no longer know what to say. Not fair. Pic again. We are on an emotional rollercoaster and he is not. That's it. If it is more than that, is it really so hard to communicate it without hysterics? (All my fingers pointed at me.)

 Let me put it another way. Have you ever driven in a car with someone who seemingly could not tell the difference between a gas pedal and the break. Sit in that car now. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. This is what you want your husband to embrace. Ok, I'm getting sick. Stop.  

This girl is Block section 4.

Now. I was only able to say it this way cuz I. Am. A. Woman. Men, don't try to manage your wife like a 9-5. You will be sleeping at your homie's house with the, "I know what this fiasco needs...a good dose of logic." Dwell with your wife with knowledge, not logic, connect on whatever emotional level in one area (keep it simple) once a day, yes, every day, not sex.... and point her to Jesus, the direction you should already be preoccupied with.

While I am on the topic, let me see if I can help a guy out. If you go at this with just cerebral strength, you will miss the "details". Your wife is found in the details, and if you have zero idea what's closest to her heart, pray for intervention. Next time you go to a football game,  instead of watching the next play, notice the smell of the field, the color of the jerseys, the roar of the crowd, the little boy for whom this is his first game, the family, all wearing the same colors as their favorite team, the bluest sky, the hottest weather, the cold drink....now take it all away, except for "the next play". Now. Are you ready to lose that? Didn't think so.

One of my favorite stories Beth Moore tells is about the time she was lost in some hotel in the Ozarks or whatever, after dark, when the power went out. The response of her husband was not dramatic, emotional, ga ga, or ridiculous. He simply knew she would be scared (a detail he knew about her) and responded by going to find her, and then saying what he needed to say to reassure her that it wasn't the end. He knew a detail about her and he responded. No doctorate necessary.