So Will I

On this last day of April, I would like to share one of my all-time favorite poems/songs. The lyrics and music are beautiful beyond description, like the God about whom it is written, and the visuals on this rendition leave me breathless and overflowing.

So Will I (100 Billion X)
Words and Music by Joel Houston Benjamin Hastings & Michael Fatkin
© 2017 Hillsong Music Publishing CCLI: 7084123

VERSE 1
God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light

CHORUS 1
And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapour of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I

VERSE 2
God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice

CHORUS 2
And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I

BRIDGE
If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

VERSE 3
God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die

CHORUS 3
And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I

TAG
Like You would again a hundred billion times
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You’re the One who never leaves the one behind

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them
by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6).

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?” (Matthew 18:11-12).

Contagious Contagions

They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In Chile, where one of my sister-in-laws was born and reared, they’ve started issuing certificates to those who have survived COVID on the assumption that these people are now healthy and should be free from vulnerability to COVID contagion as well as no longer being contagious themselves. This is—as you might suspect—somewhat controversial, since the disease is so new that there aren’t any peer-reviewed studies proving this theory, although it’s pretty widely accepted as mostly true concerning many viral illnesses.

The whole issue of contagions and being contagious made me consider what I would like to be able to pass along to others. Actually, we are all “carriers” of certain contagions, right? I saw a YouTube of a Belgian man who (as an advertising gimmick for Coca-cola) started laughing on a train. It was like magic! After some initial facials expressing questioning curiosity, soon everybody was laughing or smiling. I couldn’t watch it without laughing myself! Laughter really is contagious, isn’t it?! (If you’ve got an extra 1:28 seconds, here it is: )

And so, as an exercise in aspiration, I made a list of some of the things I would love to be a infected with and pass along to others:

Keukenhof Flower Gardens in the Netherlands

*Peace like a river
*Joy like a fountain
*Love like an ocean
*Faith like a child
*Hope like a mountain
*Patience like a golden ring
*Radiance like an angel
*Cheerfulness like a song bird
*Wisdom like a sage . . . like Solomon
*Meekness like Moses
*Righteousness like Daniel
*Zeal like Paul
*Goodness and Holiness like Jesus, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). In Jesus, all the virtues of God were displayed in human form! I want to be like Jesus!

(I did not take the amazing photo of Keukenhof Flower Gardens and do not know who did, as I received it as a forward, but isn’t it fabulous? If you are the photographer, please let me know your name so I can credit you, or let me know if you don’t want to give me permission and I’ll take it down. Thank you! Same for the photos of the dogs, which were from FB.)

Understanding Stress and Stress-Relieving Strategies

This world-wide COVID pandemic has increased humanity’s stress load beyond anything most of us have personally experienced. First, I want to point out that stress is a fact of life and actually improves performance up to a point (see chart above), but it must be managed or we’ll be overwhelmed. So, let’s take on the challenge, identify the pressures, prepare as best we can, and repair what’s already broken.

The first step is assessing the situation. A sense of having no control fuels stress in crises, so we need to control what we can to maintain as much good health as possible. As a wise pastor explained to me: “You may not be able to control your circumstances, and you shouldn’t try to control others, but you can and should control your attitudes and actions.” Not dealing with stress now can result in PTSD or other long-term psychological and physical problems, so it’s important to recognize and respond well to stress with appropriate self care. Assess these areas of your life:

  1. Sleep: Are you getting adequate rest? Are you sleeping enough but not too much? If you’re having trouble sleeping, the best way to improve sleep habits is to set an alarm to get up at a reasonable hour and train yourself to wake up and get up at the same time each morning.
  2. Exercise: Regular, daily exercise is critical to good health. If you can, get outside and walk! Use this time to relax. Intentionally use your five senses to increase your pleasure! Listen to the birds, feel the warmth of the sun (or rain!) on your face, smell the freshness of spring. Breathe deeply (but not as your neighbors pass by 🙂 ) and appreciate the break from being inside in quarantine for most of your time.
  3. Diet: Not going on a diet, but eating well. This is not the time to try to lose weight (which increases stress), but it’s important to eat healthy, nourishing, regular meals. If you can’t enjoy your normal supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, consider using a multivitamin and mineral supplement. Alan and I have never been fans of supplements, but a supplement is better than becoming malnourished. On the other hand, this is a critical time for disciplining yourself against binge eating, excessive use of alcohol or drugs, or eating foods that are bad for you due to medical conditions. I’ve been making one dessert per week as a special treat, but this would not be a good way to improve “self care” for those who have diabetes (for example). Find ways of relieving stress that are within the parameters of your health needs!
  4. Medical/Emotional Needs: Continue to care for your medical conditions, including emotional and spiritual needs. Don’t ignore them just because you’re afraid to go to a clinic or hospital! Contact your physician, therapist, or minister as needed for advice and counsel.
  5. Spiritual Needs: As a Christian, I find my daily “quiet time” critical for my sense of peace and well being. Studies show that people of all faiths (or no faith) profit from 20 minutes (or so) of quiet meditation each day. I meditate on the Bible and pray, and I recommend this 100%. In my personal appraisal of stress, my devotional time comes second only to my sleep in effecting my overall sense of well being. (I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve never suffered food or shelter deprivation, but I’m sure that would severely effect my sense of well being too!) Don’t underestimate the importance of getting in touch with your spiritual side—and the God who created you!
  6. Social Needs: The sense of isolation that results from being quarantined tends to amplify tension and stress, so find ways to spend time with loved ones, even if it means communicating through Skype, WhatsApp, Signal, FaceTime, Zoom, etc. There are many ways to keep up with family and friends besides being physically present together (which is everybody’s favorite way). Be creative. I had to learn how to use WhatsApp and Signal, but I now have more active communication with some of my nieces and nephews than I did before COVID hit! My monthly prayer time with my two prayer partners has moved to a Zoom Room. I’d way rather have my kids and grand kids visit than all this virtual stuff, but—praise God for virtual connections! Let’s be glad for what we have during times when we can’t have everything we want and think we need!

The second step is to try to prepare going forward by building some stress-relieving activities into your schedule. During times of crisis, it’s more important than ever to be intentional about self-care and care for others. Get together with those in your sheltering-at-home unit and open up with one another about your needs. Solve problems as a family. Plan “alone” time for each of you into your day to replenish your energy for being together. Parents and elders need to lead well by slowing down, being intentional about earning trust and respect by making wise decisions, asking for forgiveness when they fail, and being “servant leaders” without being overly self-critical or perfectionistic in their expectations either for themselves or those in their care. Be honest, transparent, and timely in communicating the changing circumstances. Don’t try to hide the facts to protect your spouse or kids. They’ll know something is amiss and become uneasy, feeling “betrayed” when the truth comes out later. Keep communication open and flowing. When communication stops, people tend to imagine the worst! Be a good role model. People are eager for good leadership during crises, and your family will be very likely to follow your leadership if they trust and respect your judgment.

How to relieve stress? Here are some ideas:

  1. Plan breaks for relaxation: This may mean some down time for reading a book, playing music or watching a video. For children, it might be some free time to play games; for adults, it might include time for a leisurely hot shower or a soak in the tub. I realize with small children, these might seem close to impossible luxuries, but maybe you can take turns giving your spouse a little time off for a quiet breather!
  2. Be grateful and thankful: Look for the good and focus on that. Be appreciative. Try to compliment others and become an encourager. I remember during one particularly difficult time in our marriage, we were both advised to try to find at least one thing each day to appreciate and thank our spouse for doing or being. I’ve heard that a really good relationship will have about seven times as many compliments and expressions of appreciation as bits of correction or critique.
  3. Look for the silver linings and humor: Laughter is good medicine and a great stress reliever (as long as you’re laughing with and not at someone). Think positive! I remember reading about someone incarcerated (unjustly) who found delight in an ant racing across the floor of the prison. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, read the biography of Joni Eareckson Tada, who became a quadriplegic as a teenager after a diving accident. I recently listened through her incredible story, The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus. After reading this book, I feel like I’ll never have anything to complain about again!
  4. Take time to learn something new: In a way, I feel like the COVID pandemic has enforced a bit of “sabbath rest” on everyone (at least those of us who are older), because we can’t go anywhere and are so limited in our options. This is the “perfect” time to pick up that hobby you’ve always wanted to try. If you have internet access, there are tutorials on just about every subject under the sun, so now’s your golden opportunity to become proficient on the guitar, painting, star gazing, needlework, language, and on and on! If you have kids, possibly you can involve them too! I think most of us totally underestimate how much our children can understand and enjoy things that interest adults too.
Ken and Joni (Eareckson) Tadi—
and she’s still glowing after more than 50 years as a quadriplegic!

So, if we’ve assessed our situations and taken some positive measures to prepare for less stress going forward, the last thing on our “to do” list is to get rid of the things that impact our family negatively. Here are some important stressors to avoid:

  1. Too much media, including T.V. radio, phones, social media: Use only sources you trust and limit your exposure so that you’re only learning what you need to know in order to protect yourself and live a healthy life. More news than you need will only promote anxiety: “While anger can lower one’s perception of risk, fear ratchets it up” (Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 15, No. 6, 2006). Reduce stress by reducing fear.
  2. Faulty coping techniques: Humans tend to have three responses to fear: flight, fight, or freeze. Faulty “flights” (escapes to avoid dealing with reality) are theoretically “stress relievers” but actually add to stress. These include such things as giving in to addictions like alcohol, drugs, porn, playing video games, binge eating or over sleeping, etc. Faulty “fights” include taking your stress out on others instead of taking responsibility for yourself in your situation and learning how to handle the problems appropriately. Becoming verbally, physically, or emotionally abusive solves nothing and does great damage to those around you. Take a break. Count to ten (or 10,000 if need be). Get down on your knees and pray, asking God for help to control your anger. Go for a walk, but don’t hurt the ones who love you the most! Finally, faulty “freeze” responses include things like isolating or withdrawing socially even beyond what is necessary, becoming vegatative or dysfunctional, hiding in your room or refusing to talk to anybody. Short term you may think this is easier than meeting the challenges head on, but like the rafter heading into the white water, if you don’t lean into the waves, you’ll get washed overboard out the back.

Hope this helps a little! We can’t control COVID, but we really need to control ourselves, and by learning to control ourselves, we will lessen our own stress and help alleviate the stress in those around us. I realize that controlling our own fear sometimes seems completely beyond us. If you are feeling overwhelmed and like you’ve already been washed out the back end of your rescue raft, then I pray you will meditate on these verses and ask the LORD to help you find peace in your soul:

Let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you” (Deuteronomy 20:3-4).

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die” (Judges 6:23).

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Psalm 56:4).

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10).

If you don’t find any of these verse consoling, then perhaps you don’t know the Lord Jesus as your savior. In that case, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7)! If you want help in knowing God and being able to “depart from evil,” then please click on the “Coming to Christ” tab at the top of this post and read about how you can find peace with God.

(Credit for the first chart and much of the inspiration for this post was found on the website for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, where my husband serves as the Chief Medical Officer. This site has a host of valuable resources related to mental health issues. I’ve added the link below just in case you have other questions on your heart too.)

Domestic Violence During COVID

This is a tough subject, but one that needs addressing! I was out walking our lane last week and a young woman was trespassing, although when I stopped to talk to her, I discovered that she was either mentally ill or being abused, or most likely some of both. In the process of trying to help her, I’ve been digging into research and discovered that domestic abuse and violence is becoming distressingly higher during the world’s COVID lock down. Hospitals that are not overflowing with COVID patients are actually significantly down in their censuses. Our psychiatric hospital’s census has been down, and I naively imagined it was because families were home together and better able to attend the needs of their mentally ill family members. I don’t know the “true” truth, but it appears that people are avoiding hospitals for fear of contracting COVID, but this does not mean that the mentally ill are being graciously and patiently cared for by loving family members. In fact, alcoholism, drug use, and abuse are sky rocketing, and in the areas where reporting of abuse has gone down, the fear is that this is only because it’s become harder to get the privacy to make calls for help without being detected.

If you or anyone you know or love is being abused, there is a Hotline for National Domestic Violence in America: 1-800-799-7233. I haven’t actually tested this number, but if you call and find it unhelpful, there probably is a number in your city or country where you can call for help. In America, you can always call “911” and they can direct you. For most people, the danger of coronavirus, though real, may not be as potentially lethal as a violent spouse. For instance, an article in the New York Times on April 17, 2020 reported that “according to various unofficial Covid-19 trackers that calculate the death rate by dividing total deaths by the number of known cases, about 6.4 percent of people infected with the virus have now died worldwide.” This same article went on to say that the death rate “in the United States, [is] around 4.3 percent, according to the latest figures on known cases and deaths.” According to other sources, at this point 80% of those dying are over 65 or have an underlying medical condition. So, if you are under 65 and otherwise in good health, your chance of sustaining a serious or life-threatening injury from a violent partner is greater than your risk of death from COVID, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help!

Last night Alan and I watched the 2019 adaptation of John Bunyan’s immortal tale, Pilgrim’s Progress (animated version). We both loved it, and I want to recommend it. But beyond thinking it was a well done retelling of one of the world’s greatest classics, one the most significant points of the movie is that if we call out to God for HELP, He will help us. This is not just fairy-tale romance, this is true! God will reveal himself to those who seek him sincerely: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). God is alive and well, and He is able to help you. I can’t tell you exactly what you need to do if you’re in distress, but I can promise you that if you sincerely repent and surrender your heart to God, He will save you and show you the right path to take. He can do for each of us what no human being can do, and He will if we ask.

My (new) young friend at first could not believe that God loved her, as her father had never claimed her and her mother had died in January. She said she wanted to kill herself because God—if he did exist—did not love her and wouldn’t want her or help her. Thankfully, she did listen to God’s Word and did believe! “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). If you will reach out and ask God for help, he will help you too! Please reach out!

(Please don’t think I’m taking this problem lightly in any way by using graphics from the animated version of The Pilgrim’s Progress, but (of course) I can not use real photographs of real people for this terribly difficult subject. God knows what you need. He can help you!)

Sabbath Meditations: “Dragon Slayer” and Other Such

Here are three last luminous poems from the pen of Carol Simpkins Floyd~

Dragon Slayer  
                                             
Dragon-Slayer is his name….a white horse is his steed
He killed the dragons in her life…by meeting all her needs
Dragons large and dragons small…..spiritual…..unseen
Monstrous things…their evil claws…muffled all her screams
His heart could hear her crying…from her dungeon heart of stone
Captive…scared…her one desire was not to die alone
“Oh, help me God if you are there….please show me what to do
Free me from this awful place….and I will live for you”
He alone was full aware…how fierce her chains were bound
More fierce his Love that loosed them all…they fell without a sound
Not by sword or shield or spear…no weapon of this earth
He set her free by Love alone…her heart was virgin-birthed
He saw in her a promised bride…who’d one day be his Queen
Fair as the moon….clear as the sun….reflecting whom she’s seen
And she in all amazement….can scarcely comprehend
Her Dragon-Slayer is her Lord…. her Savior…and her Friend
Yes!…Dragon-Slayer is his name…he rides a charger white
He wears a vesture dipped in blood…his eyes a flaming light
He’s terrible in power…He took death’s blow and won
The Bridegroom and his Bride shall wed…The Church…and God’s own Son                  
 © Carol  Simpkins  Floyd, 2001    

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written,
King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).

Sabbath Rest
“A  Nuptial  Ode”
Song of Songs

Sabbath  swept…my  soul  is  drenched  in  rest
A  willing  slave  to  peace  extreme…held  captive  by  excessive  

Love  and  pardon  mingled…mercy  pouring  down
The  dew  of  Heaven  saturates  this  dying  soul  it  found

Gates  of  brass  are  lifted  up…iron  bars  lay  at  my  feet
The  all-embracing  grace  of  God  reigns  in  triumph  sweet

Crimson  flow…acceptance  of  his  death
And  resurrection  causes  me  to  enter  in  his  restful

Sacred  pause  and  loss  of  time…seat  of  calm  repose
Trusting  him  with  all  my  sin…knowing  that  he  knows  me

Threats  of  death  fall  impotent…scarred  hands  now  own  the  keys
That  opened  Heaven’s  floodgates…bringing  Sabbath  rest  to  me

Wedded  hearts…solitary  rhythm
Beating  to  the  Song  of  Songs…revelation  given

Of  choicest  fruits  and  Spirit  wine…Love’s  inebriation
Mandrakes  fuel  intense  desire  for  Holy  consummation

Focused  now  with  face  upturned…I  wait  for  Heaven’s  best
Till  my  Bridegroom  comes  to  take  me…we’re  engaged… in  Sabbath  Rest

© Carol Simpkins Floyd, 1998

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Adam to Image

Single  egg  and  seed
Mingled…..male  and  female  breed
Atom  to  Image  

To  behold  God’s  Son
We  the  church…..transformed  become
Adam  to  Image                   

© Carol  Simpkins  Floyd,  1990

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14).

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid” (Romans 6:14-15).

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

P.S.—It’s not too late to share a poem! National Poetry Writers’ Month doesn’t end until April 30. 🙂

The Case for Cabbage: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Do you love cabbage? It’s one of those low calorie, high vitamin-and-mineral value veggies that we’d all do well to befriend, and right now especially so during the COVID-19 pandemic, because cabbages can outlast a host of other less hardy vegetables.

Annalee Davis’s Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Therefore, when one of my girlfriends posted a photo of her stuffed cabbage rolls and mentioned how it made her house smell great, it really piqued my interest! Although she’s made cabbage rolls for so long she didn’t have a detailed recipe, she told me roughly how she made hers. I measured as I went, and as our own home began to fill up with the wonderful aroma of baking rolls, I knew this was going to be my entry for this Saturday’s recipe contest!

Roasted Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
(Makes 12-14 rolls; Alan ate 3 and I ate 2, so your guess is as good as mine
as to how many “servings” it makes)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Start by preparing 1.5 cups of cooked rice (Brown or white; prepare according to the directions on your package. Don’t overcook it! Shouldn’t take more than 20 mins. maximum.)

Next, prepare the cabbage leaves: In a large cooking pot, boil and lightly salt 2 cups of water. If you have a water boiler for coffee, fill that with 2 cups of water and get that boiling too.

Separate the largest 12-14 cabbage leaves, cut out the tough, white end (where they connected to the head) and add the leaves to the pot of boiling, salted water. Pour the additional two cups of boiling water (from your water heater) over the cabbage leaves, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Immediately drain and set out the leaves on a clean surface to cool.

Filling:
In a skillet, lightly brown together:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground hamburger
1 small/medium onion chopped
1 tablespoon crushed garlic (about half that if you’re pressing fresh)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Montreal steak seasoning, but suit yourself!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Add:
1.5 cups cooked white (or brown) rice
1 egg

Mix until just stirred together. Nothing has to be completely cooked.

On top of each cabbage leaf, add 1/3 cup of the meat filling.

Roll the cabbage leaves, folding in the edges and turn them upside down in a 11X14″ baking pan. (Some people secure them with toothpicks, and they are neater that way, but you don’t have to do this if you’re careful scooping them out of the pan after they bake.)

Arrange them in the baking dish and pour one can (or up to two cups) of seasoned tomato sauce over the top. I didn’t have tomato sauce, so I used spaghetti sauce, which worked fine; use whatever you have! Some people like tomato soup, although that often has high fructose corn syrup in it. Suit yourself!

Cover with aluminum foil (but don’t let it touch the tomato sauce). Bake for 1 hour at 350°F.

Serve piping hot. Annalee was visitng with friends in Hungary where they served cabbage rolls with sour cream, so she says she always serves them that way. I used Greek yogurt instead (given the current COVID crisis and no sour cream on hand). One of the beautiful things about cooking is that most recipes are very adaptable and forgiving!

Annalee often serves hers with the rest of the cabbage sauteed with caramelized onions, which I tried and is marvelous!

By the way, Annalee Davis is also the author of the book He Left, God Stayed, which I reviewed a few months ago:

https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2019/12/03/dealing-with-tragic-loss/

If you’ve been left and are feeling the sting of tragic loss, please consider looking into her very helpful and comforting book!

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

(I also ended up serving mine with a little toasted whole-grain bread, fresh apples, and sparkling grape juice on another occasion. It’s delicious any old way!)

Ten Reasons Why I Loved Home Schooling

I know many of you are ready to pull out your hair with your kids confined to home 24/7, and I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it would be to have an emergency start in the middle of the year with kids in various grades, without any teaching manuals, and likely many parents trying to work remotely from home to boot. I totally and sincerely empathize! However, I also want to mention that home schooling, when planned for (and I spent my entire summers preparing for the school years), can be an amazing experience both for the parents and the kids.

Why am I on a soap box today shouting out praises for home schooling? Because some people are suggesting that home schools should be banned, probably based on personal frustrations over homeschooling, which is especially testing the patience and stability of homes during this COVID crisis.

If you’re among those who think homeschooling should be banned, please read this helpful article by a Harvard alum (PhD) who home schools her four children:

https://fee.org/articles/harvard-magazine-calls-for-a-presumptive-ban-on-homeschooling-here-are-5-things-it-got-wrong/?fbclid=IwAR3PCAm51mqVZ5PghJGFFs7Ywg2fgWYauoaP1xQrWIK-CR7uaWfSkCduJGU

Kerry McDonald isn’t unique in being a brilliant woman who values her children’s education above her own career ambitions. My closest friend during our early homeschooling years had a PhD in statistics from Princton and gave up a glowing career to home school. Today I have friends who are both physicians, although the wife gave up her career to home school their beautiful family and told me not long ago that their oldest was just accepted into her alma mater for university training, so she felt relieved to know she hadn’t “failed” her kids.

I started homeschooling not because I thought it was a brilliant idea, but as a result of economic duress (which meant we couldn’t afford tuition for the Christian school where we were sending our two oldest). I was lamenting about our financial situation to my best friend, and she responded, “Kathi, the Lord is just backing you into a blessing! Try home schooling.” I didn’t think it would be possible. My oldest was eight and almost uncontrollable, not to mention the other three were two, four, and six.

We started timidly, thinking we’d just home school for one year, but by the end of the year no one was interested in returning to a regular class room setting. Why? Well, here were some of the unexpected pluses:

  1. More freedom and time to grow and explore creatively. I think the biggest plus for my kids was the fact that as soon as they were done with their school work, they were free to pursue their own interests. They didn’t have to sit and wait for everybody else in the class to finish, which really cut down on boredom. The eager beavers also put positive pressure on their sibs to get done so they could play.
  2. More input by parents as to what the children are learning. I don’t know if this meant much to our children, but it meant a lot to me. I loved being able to tailor our curriculum so that I was teaching the children spiritual and moral values as well as academic lessons.
  3. Better able to tailor curriculum to fit your child’s individual needs. Not all kids are born academically equal, so to speak. I am deeply grateful for public education being available for all children in America, but of necessity it has to be geared for the average child, so children on either end of the spectrum do not have their needs met as ably. The closer to the ends of the bell-shaped curve, the less public schools are geared to meet the true needs of the child. So, home schooling is especially helpful both for children who have learning challenges and for those are particularly gifted.
  4. Requires (and therefore develops) more independence on the part of the students. A dedicated teacher who only has to teach one grade or subject can focus all their attention on that subject or class during the day, and schools have a complete support staff to oversee all the other aspects of the children’s care. A mother in a home has to provide for every aspect of the school. She’s not only the teacher, she may be replacing several teachers (one per grade level or subject). She is also the principal, the maintenance man, the recess supervisor, the cafeteria personnel, and the child care worker (for any preschoolers). I remember being consoled by learning that butterflies need to fight for themselves to emerge from their cocoons in order for their wings to become strong enough to fly. My kids would get so frustrated waiting for me to finish helping someone else that they’d often figure out the problem before I could get back to them. It forced them to THINK!
  5. Less “seat” time and more “hands on” time for learning. Learning didn’t end when classes ended. In many ways, I felt like the kids learned more in their free time than during their academic studies. They probably learned more “facts” studying math, science, history, English, spelling etc., but they learned more about how to live by living and doing.
  6. More flexibility as a family. This was a huge advantage! Whenever Alan was available for a vacation week, the rest of us could go anywhere with him. We didn’t have to juggle nine schedules! My personal theory was that I didn’t want any kid to miss any really cool opportunity, and that was pretty consistently true over the years. If a special occasion came up, we could make time for it. (Just one small for instance, but Jon loved trains as a child, and one day he [and I] got to take a train ride with a real, live engineer (who was a patient of Alan’s). We could always take time to enjoy special community or church events, etc. Life was rich with unexpected prospects for adventures and learning experiences.
  7. Bonds the family together. There is nothing quite so bonding as working side by side on positive projects, and spending your life working and playing together makes for some pretty tight, lifelong friendships. All of my kids are still very interactive with each other. Not all with all, but all with some. We were always active in a church community wherever we lived, and the kids also played with neighbor children (when there were any) and cousins, but to this day the kids still text and share and think and dream and joke together.
  8. More variety and opportunity to teach and learn life skills. Before we started home schooling, we asked the kids if they’d rather go to the local elementary school or try home schooling, with the understanding that if we home schooled, they’d have to help me with family chores. They all signed on to the experiment of homeschooling, and they all learned how to do pretty much everything I knew how to do. We had rotating assignments for almost all aspects of home and yard care. We cooked, cleaned, babysat, shopped, gardened, and canned together. In the evenings after Alan came home from work, we played sports together—hockey, softball, tag football, volleyball . . . swimming, hiking, biking . . . whatever was going wherever we lived. They all had to learn how to play the piano, read music, and sing; they all learned how to sew on buttons and iron shirts. They learned how to handle money. They got comfortable with people of all ages. We got involved in a family music ministry and sang in rescue missions, camps, churches, nursing homes and college campuses. They learned to care about other people. They were eager to talk to adults and children . . . people of all ages. Shaking your hand and looking you straight in the eye came naturally.
  9. Better use of family financial resources. When we realized we wouldn’t be able to afford tuition for our kids, the school offered me a job teaching high school English. However, I had two preschoolers whom I was unwilling to put into child care (which had nothing to do with the excellent school but everything to do with my passionate desire to care for my own little ones). Over the years, Alan would notice articles detailing the additional expenses incurred by a second family member working outside the home, and by most accounts, unless the second job is really high paying, it’s a “wash” as far as expenses and additional income. According to the 2015 documentary on The Happiest People on Earth, once a family has about $50 thousand (not sure exactly what the amount would be today), there is no perceptible increase in “happiness” no matter how much more the family earns (according to self-reporting research). In fact, the happiest people on the earth are not the richest monetarily, they are the richest in the love of family and community. Not only did we save thousands of dollars by home schooling, I believe it greatly enriched our family life . . . a trade I’d make any day!!
  10. More control over influences in your children’s lives. We all love positive influences in our lives, but the more we can control negative influences, the better. Homeschooling doesn’t eliminate negative influences by any means, but hopefully it will lessen them. I also believe that the older a child is before being exposed to evil, the better able that youngster will be to recognize and handle problems. That being said, I failed to understand that evil lurks in the hearts of children (as well as adults, although I already knew that). If you home school, don’t assume your little cherubs are perfect and would be beyond lying, cheating, or any other problem that all people find tempting. We’re all just humans and need watchful supervision at all times! (One small case in point: One of my kids years later admitted to cheating on math during fifth grade. He kept wondering when I would catch him but finally realized I never would! [It didn’t cross my mind to suspect him.] Thankfully, when he realized that, he became honest because he knew that’s what he needed to do.)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV).

If you have time, I’d love to hear your comments. If you home school or home schooled, any advice or tips? If you’re struggling with home schooling right now, any questions? If you’re considering home schooling next fall, anything else you’d like to hear about? Blessings~

A Spring Carol

REST

O wrath of God…you’re quiet now and
God has rest…sweet rest
His only Son…our sacrifice
God gave his best…his best

O wretched death…Christ felt your sting and
Now he lives…he lives!
Inside of us and sings his songs
And we are his…we’re his!

O Sacred Love…forgiveness pours and
We are blessed…we’re blessed
Our sin is gone…our soul is saved and
We have rest…sweet rest

©—Carol Simpkins Floyd, May 10, 2016

Zephaniah 3:17- “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy He will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

Hebrews 4:10…”For he that is entered into God’s rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

This striking poem (and verses) were shared with me by Carol—a newly discovered sister in Christ! She authored the poem I posted a couple of days ago (“I Do”), and I will share two more of her poetic gems on Sunday. One of the special joys of blogging is discovering new friends and family in Christ from around the world! I asked if I could share a little bit about her, and this is what she offers us—

April 20, 2020

Kathi and I came to know each other through e-mail correspondence. I was on line searching for hidden treasure in the Song of Solomon when I noticed Kathi’s blog. I thought her comments might have a softer heart touch than the other listed references. I opened her blog and began to read. I was amazed at the beautiful artistry and the clarity she paints with her words and photographs. So beautifully transparent! I saw a celebration not only of our Creator but I saw too, a celebration of the life He’s given us. I sent this correspondence to her, including the footnote.

Hi Kathi,

My name is Carol Simpkins Floyd. I found your posts on the Song of Solomon and I am blessed to see the revelation that God has given you. The Song has been and still is the rejoicing of my heart. I’ve memorized the 8 chapters. Here’s a little bit about me—

I married at 16 . . . which had its own set of problems. I was unable to finish high school. I earned my GED and worked at a lot of different jobs before I settled into the medical field. I became a Christian in 1975 at the age of 29. My husband Jack became a Christian 8 months later on Easter. He walked with the Lord for 2 years and we were so happy. But the storms and the trials and the cares of this life were too much for him and he slowly chose to go back into the world.  

We had 3 beautiful children (1 daughter and 2 sons ) and 17 years of marriage when he walked away.  I was devastated! I couldn’t believe it was happening! We’d been so happy serving the Lord together. 

But in my brokenness and confusion Jesus became more real to me than ever…His Holy Spirit drove me into his Word for my comfort. He began to give me songs out of His Song of Songs and poems from his heart.

After Jack left, I found a job working as a unit clerk and 2 years later at age 39, I went to school and received my certification for Respiratory Therapy. I transferred to Sleep Medicine the last 8 years that I worked. I received my Registry in Sleep 2 years before I retired. God is amazing to help us when we step out in faith!

I was single for 24 years before I remarried. Jim and I happily serve the Lord together and we’ve been married for 16 yrs. He is a wonderful man. He preached 14 years before he was filled with the Holy Spirit in 1972.  He traveled as an evangelist for 2 years and in 1974 the Lord directed him to build the church he still pastors (Christian Fellowship Church at Bowling Green KY).

Together we have 6 kids, 11 grandchildren and soon to be 20 great-grands. All the sons and daughters in law that we’ve been blessed with are as precious to us as our own children.  If the Lord allows, we may be able to see our 4th generation. Looking forward to that!

I will celebrate my 74th birthday next month and the journey so far has been real. I say that on this side of mountain-top joys and darkest-valley sorrows. Amazing how tears seem to accompany both walks. Through happy tears and sad tears, we keep breathing and life happens. But we’re never alone and we’re never unloved! Jesus leads the way. We breathe in his love with each breath we take.

I look back now at how things happened and I see God’s hand in my life. So precious! I love that he shares life with me! The ups and the downs! He’s my best friend! And he has an amazing sense of humor! I had only written one poem in my life and it was about a witch! When he began to move me to write, I knew the words that flowed from my pen were anointed with his Spirit. I treasure that…my words would have no life if not for Him. I pray these poems will be a blessing!  God Bless You!  Jesus Loves You!

Thank you Kathi for the opportunity to share,

Carol

Footnote: Thirty-two years after our divorce, Jack returned to Jesus. He served the Lord 4 years before the Lord took him home. He was a changed man….wild horses couldn’t have dragged him away from his Savior.

COVID Considerations (Just for Fun)

From my niece: “I never dreamed there’d be a day when I went into a bank with a mask on and asked for money!” (My response? “I never dreamed there’d be a day when I took off my wedding ring before leaving the house to shop!” P.S. as in Pre Script: All the rest of these jokes and cartoons are gleaned from FB and emails from friends. Thanks, ya’ll!)

I feel like a kindergartner who keeps losing more recess time because one or two kids can’t follow directions.

Tomorrow is the National Home-school Tornado Drill. Lock your kids in the basement until you get the all clear. You’re welcome!

2019: Stay away from negative people.
2020: Stay away from positive people.

The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house, and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors!

Since we can’t eat out, now’s the perfect time to eat better, get fit, and stay healthy. But we’re quarantined! Who are we trying to impress? We have snacks; we have sweatpants – I say we use them!

Do not call the police on suspicious people in your neighborhood! Those are your neighbors without makeup and hair extensions! (I heard in one community the police were having to remind people to put on more than just their boxer shorts before checking their mailboxes.)


Day 7 at home and the dog is looking at me like, “See? This is why I chew the furniture!”

Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands??

I never thought the comment “I wouldn’t touch her with a six-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are!

Quarantine has turned us into dogs. We roam the house all day looking for food. We are told “no” if we get too close to strangers. And we get really excited about car rides.

Me: Alexa what’s the weather this weekend?
Alexa: It doesn’t matter – you’re not going anywhere.

Thoughts on getting enough exercise during our sheltering-at-home mandate:

Every time I hear the dirty word “exercise,” I wash my mouth out with chocolate.

If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

Walking 20 minutes can add to your life. This enables you at 90 years old to spend an additional 5 months in a nursing home at $4000 per month.

Don’t worry! We all get heavier as we get older because we have more information weighing down our brains. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Now that I’m over sixty, I don’t need to exercise anymore. I got all I need just getting over the hill.

My grandpa started walking five miles a day when he was 60. Now he’s 97 years old and we don’t know where he is.

In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).

I Do

“How beautiful the sorrow
How exquisite all the pain
Without these tools of mercy
I could not have known your name

“For in my senseless journey
Strong needs were driving me
Each path I chose brought heartache
And still…I couldn’t see

“Your higher purpose for my life
The plans you had in mind
You saw the things that I would see
When I became un-blind

“Relentless love…O violent grace
Sweet heart of love so true
My tears were merely stones that
Paved the pathway back to you

“Royal groom…your very blood
Bought back your faithless bride
A marriage contract sealed the day
That you were crucified

“Thank you for our pain Lord
That betrothed my soul to you
I LOVE you Jesus … Savior. … God
I do . . . I do . . . I do !!!”  

—Composed and shared by a blog follower and sister in the Lord, Carol Simpkins Floyd, while reflecting on Hosea 2 and Revelation 21:9. Copyright 2011.

And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9).      

And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:19-20 and 23).