From A Homeschooler - {Socialization}

 (If it looks like I am pregnant in this photo - uh, it's because I am.  The photos in these posts are not from my actual days as a student.  I apologize for this inaccuracy...)

Note: Since I originally wrote this post, I read the book "The Well-Adjusted Child" by Rachel Gathercole.  It is the most thorough work I have read addressing the socialization question that constantly follows discussions of homeschooling.  I highly recommend it.

(2016: Please note that this is a series I wrote several years ago as a general overview of my experience as a homeschool student.  If you have any questions about homeschooling and my homeschool experience, please comment below, and I would love to address them in future posts.  Thanks for reading!)





As far as academics go, it’s been well documented that homeschoolers do very well on standardized tests (more on that in future posts, but please see the resources at the end of this post for the stats), but when most people bring up concerns about homeschooling, it always revolves around the social aspect.  This was an area that the Lord worked out for us in the beginning especially.

Shortly after we started homeschooling we started going to a new church.  It was a small church, and there were other kids our age there.  The kids were all homeschooled.  From the beginning we had a good support group at that church, and I met some wonderful friends there, including my dear friend Hazel who I’ve mentioned before on this blog.

According to the law in our state, when you homeschool you still have to be enrolled with either the local public school or a private umbrella school for homeschoolers.  Many families choose the umbrella school option because it’s specifically meant for homeschooled families, and you get a lot more support and access to homeschooling events and resources. My mom enrolled us in an umbrella school for homeschoolers as soon as we started.  The umbrella school keeps track of records for homeschoolers and awards them a diploma once they’ve reached all the requirements to graduate, but all the work is still done at home.  They also often put together field trips for homeschoolers, and we did many of these field trips growing up.

My mom would later take over that umbrella school, and she ran it successfully for many years; she ran it until we all graduated and she handed it off to someone else.  I remember sometimes helping my mom address envelopes for newsletters for all the families who were a part of the school.  I also met my dear friend, Erin, through the school when her mom called up my mom for some recommendations.

As far as socializing, we started to realize there were a lot more homeschoolers around than we thought.  We started going to a Community Bible Study in our area, and this CBS was unique in that it had a program for all the homeschooled children of the women who attended.  So while my mom went to her classes, we all went to ours and met more homeschooled friends.  Within a couple years my mom started leading one of the classes, and we got to spend the whole morning there doing our schoolwork with some of the other kids whose moms were leaders.  We continued at that Bible study for years, and I met my dear friend Ashley there.

(I realize that I just said “dear friend” three times there, but it’s because to this day I’m still friends with each of these girls and consider them some of my closest friends.  They are very dear to me, all three!)

I haven’t really mentioned anything about sports because I was never interested in doing any sports.  I’m not athletically gifted, or coordinated.  I love that quote in The Princess Diaries where Mia says that she is more of a horse-back riding, rock-climbing girl, and that her "hand-eye coordination is zero".  That would be me as well.

My brother, however, did want to play sports, and he was able to participate in all the sports that interested him.  He played with Little League Baseball, and when he reached middle school he played with the basketball team at our local public school (you could sign up for sports or other extra-curricular activites at the public school without having to go to any classes there, at least in my state - there are even more options for part-time programs at public school today).  He also started on the wrestling team with one of his public-school friends; he was very good at wrestling and continued through high school. 

I will say that I went through a stage (*ahem*, puberty) where I sometimes wished I had more of an opportunity to meet boys (there weren’t many that I was interested in, or that were interested in me, at church or CBS).  However, in early high school I started with a homeschool youth group that gave me more opportunity to meet people (ie. boys, because that seemed so important back then).  I didn’t feel like I was missing out on friendships with boys for long. 

I remember sometimes wondering what it would be like to get to see the person you liked every day at school, but you know what?  Not seeing my crushes every day didn’t hurt me a bit.  Honestly, there was probably ess “boyfriend material” available for me at public school than in the groups I was in as a homeschooler.  I was a Christian and wasn’t willing to date anyone who wasn’t, but I am sure that standard would have been challenged in public school, which wouldn’t have been helpful.  It probably actually would have been detrimental at that stage of my life.

I never felt deprived when it came to friends.  I had my sister and brother who I saw every day, and we became close through the homeschooling years; we were each others’ best friends.  I met other friends in many places, and I am still friends with many of my childhood friends today.  I didn’t need school to develop friendships, because my mom made sure we had plenty of social opportunities.  That’s the key to "socialization" in homeschooling, and I find most mothers are very attentive to providing these opportunities for their kids.

That last year one of the moms in our umbrella school talked with my mom about putting on a homeschool prom.  Her daughter wanted to do some sort of dance before she graduated, and I am glad someone organized this because we were able to have a prom.  We had a good turnout of homeschoolers from the umbrella school. 

None of us really knew how to dance. (Actually, most public high schoolers probably don’t know how to really dance either.  I’m joking.  Kind of.) We hired a dance teacher and all of us showed up the day before the prom for dance lessons.  We had so much fun. 

Prom 2006 008blog
The three of us at prom.

We all came to prom dressed up – very few of us had dates, which actually made it more fun because everyone danced with everyone.  No one was a wall-flower; everyone just wanted to have a good time, and we did.  Looking back, if I had a choice, I would still choose not to have a date, because it took the pressure off and I got to dance with almost everyone – so there is no looking back on my prom with that guy who I never spoke to again.  It is a purely good memory.

Copy of My Graduation 049blog
Me at my high school graduation party.  Yes, that is a goat I’m holding.

Callie's Graduation-41blog
At my college graduation.

I didn’t have a graduation ceremony, but I didn’t really miss it, though there are homeschool groups that will do graduation ceremonies for homeschoolers.  I walked in my ceremony once I graduated from college, and that was the important one to me.  

Are you noticing a trend here?  For anything you could possibly miss in public school there is a group somewhere that will provide that for homeschoolers.  Except for partying.  I don’t think there’s a group that runs that.

(That was a joke, guys, don’t send me e-mails.)

One more post and I’ll wrap this story up!  You can read all the posts in this series here:




Resources:

1. The Washington Times, Homeschooling: Outstanding Results On National Tests, August 30, 2009, copyright 2012 Washington Times.

2. Dr. Brian Ray, Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America, National Home Education Research Institute, Salem, OR, 1997.

3. For more information about the above study and other similar studies, read this article: Klicka, Christopher J., Academic Statistics On Homeschooling, October 22, 2004, copyright 2004 HSLDA.
4.  Home Schoolers Score Significantly Above National Average, National Center for Home Education Press Release, December 7, 1994.

5. For more details on the above study read this article:  Klicka, Christopher J., Homeschool Students Excel In College, September 20, 2006, copyright 2006 HSLDA.



Just Some Stuff

 

Just a few things this Friday . . .

{One}

For all of you who are looking for the next installment of my homeschooling story, I decided not to post it today.  I know I’ve been doing some pretty involved posts this week, so I figured we all needed a bit of a break going into the weekend.  If you haven’t checked out the Urechek’s missionary story, please go check that out!  The next homeschooling post will be up next week.

{Two}

Okay, I take that back – one more serious thing.  Were you all aware that 40 Days For Life is going on right now?  It’s a peaceful vigil going on in front of abortion clinics across the country, where pro-life people are gathering to pray for an end to abortion.  I would love to participate in this someday, but since I can’t this year (it would just be too hard with a one year old), I’ve been keeping up with the 40 Days For Life blog

If you are pro-life, you must check this blog out!  They post encouraging thoughts and stories for each day of the vigil, and it’s amazing how many babies have already been saved through this event.  The posts are hopeful, which is something I crave when it comes to this topic – abortion is such a tragedy, and  to hear of lives that are spared from that is so encouraging.

{Three} 

I feel so productive this week. 

This week . . .

-I started and finished a book within a couple days.  I can’t even tell you how long it’s been since I’ve done that. . .

-I made lemon truffles that I found on Pinterest (they did not turn out, and I’m not sure what went wrong) . . .

-I painted our upstairs spare bedroom, cleaned it out, re-organized and decorated it . . .

-I cleaned out the downstairs closet so that we can now move Harvey’s kennel down there (instead of leaving it in my newly fabulous spare room) . . .

-I finally caught up on laundry, ironed a few of Derek’s work shirts . . .

-  And I took my sister out to get her nails done before the wedding this Saturday. 

All of this in between taking care of my boy and hanging out with my hubby in the evenings!  I kind of feel like Superwoman this week.

{Four} 

That is, I felt like Superwoman until I got home from our girl’s day yesterday and crashed on the couch.  Then I made fudge, watched and couple episodes of Full House, and just played with Wyatt a bit.  Oh, and I wrote this post.  I felt like I needed to go to bed, and it was only 5:00 PM.

{Five}

Wyatt is pulling himself up on everything, and he started walking along furniture!  In the last couple weeks he has also finally decided that baths aren’t so bad.  I think it’s because we switched him to the big tub.  He still fusses a bit when we first put him in, but then he starts splashing and laughing . . . it’s so cute!

  DSC_0197blog

As you can tell in the picture, he’s also been doing this funny tongue-roll thing.

Have I mentioned that I have the cutest little guy in the world? 

I found this quote a while back:

babyquote

So true.  I’m pretty sure mine really is the cutest though. 

But you all are allowed to think yours are the cutest too . . . as it should be!

{Six}

That’s pretty much it.  I have some other things going on that are stressing me out a little, and that I’d rather not go into on this blog.  Just say a little prayer for me if you think of it? 

{Seven}

(I just can’t end on six . . .)

I only mention number six because I know you all will say a prayer for me – my blog readers are all so supportive!  I always hear about these nasty comments that other people get on their blogs, but I’ve honestly never got a nasty comment on here – and that’s because all of you are so great!  Glad to be navigating this crazy blog world with all of you on board!

Okay, that’s really it now.



Caring For The Orphan - The Ucherek's Story 2

We left off with part one of the Ucherek's story yesterday, so if you haven't read it, please check that out first.

Warning: The first video in this post made me tear up. In a good way! So sweet. Just thought you should be made aware.

Okay, on with the story . . .

The Uchereks felt called to adoption shortly after their mission trip to Guatemala, but as they tried to pursue adopting the two sweet girls they fell in love with they found out all adoptions from Guatemala were now being closed . . .

---------------------------------------------------

As we continued to call these girls our own and share them with everyone we knew... God made it clear that He was still calling us to adopt, even though these girls were unavailable right now.

WHAT? You break us with this trip.... we FALL in love with these girls... we call them our own... we are BROKEN that we can't get on a plane right now and bring them home... you want us to put ourselves out there again, knowing the same thing could happen again? Really God?!?!

Trust in ME, I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE!

So, we took steps in obedience. We started talking with agencies and began praying over every country on the map... we eventually read about the Ethiopia program through All God's Children International and their transition home, Hannah's Hope. We prayed that God would make it clear.... and He did!


The feelings of a piece of us missing started immediately! 

The thoughts of whether or not our child was being taken care of were intense! 

The guilt of doing anything BUT paperwork every second of every day took over! 

Dan constantly wondered if our child(ren) were safe! 

I constantly wondered if they were being loved!

We moved forward in faith! January 2010 the paperwork began and we tackled it with great joy knowing that God was in control of EVERYTHING... that HIS timing was perfect! By April we were ready to be matched with a child, which we thought would be quick.

Quick it was not! Easy to smile and look back on now, but HARD in the midst of it. Side note - if you know someone going through the adoption journey, their emotions are REAL, RAW, and need to be validated! Do not discount that they are expecting, whether you can see it in their not-so-growing belly or not! This journey is HARD... people do NOT understand... you get STRANGE comments... and everyone somehow thinks they all of a sudden are open to ask any personal question regarding your sex life and your uterus that pops in their head! Assumptions should NOT be made... just because someone is adopting does NOT mean that it was plan B for their family... adoption is OFTEN Plan A, just like it was for OUR family!

We waited... we prayed... we shared our hearts... we advocated... we served... we told everyone we knew... we fundraised...  we asked our friends to fundraise for us... to ask their friends to support us... it was humbling, it was overwhelming, and it puts you under a microscope. However, it is truly a MIRACLE to see the Lord work IN and THROUGH so many to bring HIS plans to completion!

On February 17th, 2011 we received the call that would change our lives forever!To read the details of the call, see this post! Here's the video we put together to capture this sweet moment -



"Jesus we praise You and thank You for allowing us this opportunity... thank you for breaking our hearts for the fatherless... and for allowing us the opportunity to say that as of February 17th, 2011, there's ONE LESS orphan in this world!"

We walk through the rest of the process, fly to Ethiopia twice, and return home on Father's Day 2011 with this bundle of joy!








This little sweetie turned our lives inside out and showed us Christ's love in a whole new way!



You see, God tells us to love each other unconditionally... those that may get on our nerves, co-workers that we don't work easily with, etc.... BUT we've never before been challenged with loving someone that pushed us away, rejected us, and did NOT want to be in our home. This sweet boy has taught us more in the 9 months that he's been in our home about Christ's love for EACH OF US than anything else in our lives! He has blessed us more than we will EVER be able to bless him!


After our first trip to Ethiopia, we both knew the Lord was calling us to overseas mission work. Our hearts were once again broken by the plight of the orphan, the vulnerable, and the outcast...





As we returned home... we were broken-hearted. Not only had we left our son on the other side of the globe, but we also left a country and people that we had grown to love dearly in one short week.

We again prayed.... we KNEW God was calling us to serve overseas and we made a commitment that we would take steps of faith as He opened doors!

Four LONG weeks after our first trip we returned to be re-united with our son and bring him HOME forever. Our hearts and minds were consumed for many weeks with helping him transition, being the consistent in this life, and making sure we were doing all we could to bond and attach with this sweet boy. We still prayed for the Lord to reveal HIS plan. We could NOT return unchanged!

As the Lord does in HIS time, He started to open some doors and slam others shut... we soon knew that He was calling us to Guatemala to serve full time! We felt particularly drawn to Eagle's Nest International and the work that they are doing. You see, our hearts are to serve the orphan, show them what a family is, to reach out to a lost community, to bring hope to the hurting, and love like we've never loved before. We took a trip this past December asking the Lord to give us clarity as we served together and HE made it abundantly clear that we are to serve at Eagle's Nest.

For many of the children living at Eagle's Nest, it is the ONLY home they have ever known... it is where they will form their idea of a 'family' even though we all wish they could be in a family rather than an orphanage. For others, Eagle's Nest will be a refuge and a safe haven where they can learn about Jesus and His great plans for their lives!

We plan to move to Guatemala, Lord willing, this coming June to serve at Eagle's Nest International. Some of the ways we will be serving include providing holistic orphan care to the children living at the home and will continue to bring in more children as we are able. We have a fantastic opportunity to reach out to the community through the Manna feeding program, a sports ministry, and a new music ministry that Dan will be launching! In addition, we'll serve the Sololá community through outreach and evangelism, a Christian school, and New Birth Church. We're incredibly humbled that God has provided so many opportunities to minister to those in need!

 


Along with this step of faith comes a lot of uneasiness if we are really honest! We're doing all we can to sell our belongings, sell our home, and prepare our hearts! We've asked many to consider reaching out to pastors, small groups, or Sunday school classed to allow us the opportunity to share this story... knowing that God can use it to plant many seeds!

We need you! It's as simple as that! 
We can't go until we have 75% of our need in monthly commitments so that we can effectively minister to the Sololá community and care for our family! That's where YOU come in! 

Would you consider giving $10 and telling 10 of your friends? It's that simple!

We need your partnership.... through prayer, through giving, and through telling others! 

Even if you can't give... do you have 10 friends that you could share our story with? 

To continue watching this journey unfold, follow us here.

Love in Christ,

Dan, Christi & Malakai Ucherek

------------------------------------------------------------

I hate to be redundant, but this week is sort of (unofficially) Missionary Support Week on this blog! This is something that is so important, and for those of us who aren't called to full-time missions, we still need to be doing something.

If you already have missionaries that you give to, then please continue to give to them! But if you are looking for some way to get involved and support those who are bringing the good news of Jesus to those in other countries, will you consider contributing to the Ucherek's? As I said before, I'm sure they would appreciate even just five bucks!

Even if you can't give anything financially, please keep them in your prayers! They are being faithful to what the Lord has called them to in going to Guatemala, and they need prayer warriors to stand for them as they go to reach the fatherless.

And check out their blog to keep up with the rest of their story. I'm sure it's only going to get better from here on out!

Maybe I'll have them back for another guest post in a few months, after they get there? We'll see!

God bless you, Christi and Dan, as you follow His call to Guatemala! You'll be on my mind and in my prayers!




P.S. Once again, if you are a missionary or know a missionary, I would LOVE to feature more stories on this blog. Please contact me at throughcloudedglass@gmail.com if you are interested, or if you know a missionary who might want to do a guest post for me!

Recieving The Call - The Ucherek's Story

A blog friend of mine put me in contact with Christi last week, and I checked out their blog site as we e-mailed back and forth about doing a guest post.

I read the long version of the story of how Christi and her husband Dan were called to adopt their son, Malakai, and pursue long-term mission work in Guatemala. Their hearts for the Lord just shines through their blog! I know the Lord is going to use them in great ways as they go to work with these kids who have no family.

Christi was kind enough to write an abbreviated version of their story for this blog, and I hope you enjoy it!

-------------------------------------------------------


I just want to start by thanking you for taking the time to read the story that God is writing with our lives... and a HUGE thank you to Callie for sharing her blog space with us - what a blessing!

First, let me start by introducing ourselves... my wonderful hubby Dan, I'm Christi, our sweet boy Malakai Aweke... and there's a bun in the oven due 3/18!



Our story goes a little something like this...



In 2003, while dating, our eyes were opened to the plight of the orphan. God used the trip that I, Christi, took to the Dominican Republic to change our hearts forever!

About six months prior, I had been introduced to Jesus Christ for the first time in my life. As I started a relationship with HIM and dug into HIS Word, I began to see that He had plans far better than anything I had imagined.

I was given an opportunity to serve overseas for about 4 weeks that summer. While I had no idea how this would happen financially, God pulled together the pieces and I left on a plane for the Dominican Republic that June. I had NEVER flown before, I had NEVER left my family for that long, I was SCARED to leave Dan, and I was serving with 30 others that I had never met!

What happened over the next 4 weeks completely rocked my world!

I knew there were orphans in the world...

I knew there were widows...

I knew there were poor...

I knew there were many injustices....

BUT I had NEVER been face to face with what I was about to experience.

I spent the next 4 weeks reaching out to a village that was filled with witchcraft...

A village where the 'workers' that came in to harvest the surrounding sugar cane fields raped all of the young girls...

A village where children were raising children...

A village where most of the people were walking around naked from lack of clothing...

A village where the children had bloated bellies from lack of food...

A surrounding garbage dump full of HOMES...
families searching for food each day...

Children NOT in school...

Children NOT being cared for...

The look of despair was on the faces of all...

And people that had NEVER heard the TRUTH of Jesus Christ...


Many faces and stories stand out in my mind, but God used this ONE child to grip my heart forever!



For months I would cry myself to sleep wondering if anyone was taking care of him, if
anyone was feeding him, and what would happen to all those precious lives!


I returned not completely understanding HOW to process all that I had just experienced. Through much prayer and seeking the wisdom of my pastor, I shared my desire to serve overseas as a full-time missionary and maybe adopt one day with my amazing boyfriend, Dan. We both knew that God was calling us to a life together, but Dan did not share this desire. I remember something along the lines of, "That's great babe, but I'm a sender, NOT a go-er"...

However, my wise (future) hubby made a commitment that he would pray for these children by name, listen to my stories, help me process all that I had been through, and be supportive of whatever God called me us to... just as long as it wasn't full time mission work!

Upon returning, I went through a period of really wrestling with the Lord... wondering how HE could burden my heart so heavily to serve the people of the DR BUT at the same time make it so clear that now was not HIS timing! Dan was absolutely instrumental in helping me to process all that I had been through and encouraged me to continue to seek the Lord's timing and purpose.

During this time, we were both challenged to dig deeper into God's Word and use our gifts to further the Kingdom. While we were serving, we had grown comfortable and were more willing to serve where and when it was most convenient for us, not really being bold in the name of Jesus!

We soon both felt the Lord calling me to again serve the vulnerable overseas. We asked the Lord to show us where and He led me to a trip to Honduras which was later postponed due to political unrest. I was given the option to go to Guatemala or wait a year to go to Honduras. As we prayed, it was Dan that sensed the Lord was leading me to Guatemala. I vividly recall struggling with this decision and Dan telling me that this may be God's plan all along, for me to serve in Guatemala...

God definitely wanted me to go on the Guatemala trip! THIS TRIP CHANGED OUR LIVES!





While many stories stand out in my mind, it was THESE two little girls in particular, God used to change our hearts, especially Dan's heart! Just like the DR trip, HE was using a small child to greatly impact our lives.

The first photo is Milagra- a precious little girl found in a dumpster and the 2nd is Yulisa- a sweet little girl with a big heart that was attached to my hip!

As God would have it, right after I applied to go to Honduras, we were sensing that the Lord was prompting me to serve in a ministry full-time... and I was THRILLED to leave corporate America! We prayed, researched ministries where I could serve, specifically in orphan care or adoption, and surrender this to the Lord and HIS timing! God then called us to my Lifesong for Orphans! God was on the move and we couldn't have been more excited to be involved in all that HE was doing in and through the Lifesong ministry!



We set out on this trip knowing that God had plans for it... to spread the gospel, to love on some children without parents to call their own, to serve the widow, to encourage some teens from desperate situations, and to make an impact for the Kingdom.

As I returned home and TRIED to process all I had experienced, I quickly noticed that not only was I lying awake at night crying myself to sleep thinking about the brokenness I had witnessed..... but Dan was too! He could not get enough of the stories and the photos... something was different this time!

God gave Dan this BEAUTIFUL song that he put to the video below which allowed us many
opportunities to share and advocate for these precious lives.



She's got no one to tuck her in at night... does anyone care? Father, please, stir in me, OPEN my eyes to see.... GOD was opening Dan's eyes to the plight of the orphan... and it was INCREDIBLE!

We were BOTH so broken... people would ask us to share about the trip and we'd both break down... it was ALL we talked about.... we were physically ill thinking of doing anything but going back!

As we left Guatemala, our team gathered around in the airport and asked the Lord to show BOTH Dan and I how HE would have us respond and how we could serve TOGETHER
defending the cause of the fatherless. That spot in the airport is so overwhelming to me!

Over the next months, we sensed the Lord calling us to adopt. We contacted everyone we could get our hands on to try to pursue these 2 sweet girls... and door after door was closed. We made a covenant with the Lord that we WOULD adopt these 2 sweet girls... whenever He called us to. We eventually received the news that ALL adoptions from Guatemala to the U.S. were closed... that we could do nothing, but pray. And pray we did. Fervently!

-----------------------------------------------------------

Check back tomorrow for the rest of the story, including how their son came into their lives!

Also, if you just can't wait until then, you can read the full version of their story on their blog.

Dan and Christi are planning to become full-time missionaries to Guatemala, and they are still in the fundraising phase. They have to raise 75% of their support before they are allowed to go. If you are considering donating so that they can go as planned, here is the link to their donation page. I know they'd appreciate even five dollars so much! Maybe consider giving up that Starbucks I mentioned yesterday?

Part Two coming tomorrow!


What Really Matters

A couple weeks ago Derek and I were driving in the car, and for some reason I started thinking about mission work. I can’t even remember what made me start thinking about it. Something on the radio, or something I read perhaps? It was pretty out of the blue.

Being a full-time missionary to a foreign country is not something everyone can do. It’s just not. It’s one of those things that you have to clearly receive the call from the Lord to do, and not everyone is called to it.

But really, I think the majority of Christians use that as an excuse not to get involved at all. Sure, not everyone is called to be a missionary, but what about praying for missionaries? What about sending them financial contributions? What about even getting involved with short-term missions?

Jesus commands us with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) to make disciples of all nations, and we don’t get a pass just because we aren’t physically called to go.

As I was thinking about it, I started feeling that even though Derek and I may not be called to be foreign missionaries, I can see how the Lord could be setting us up perfectly to be able to support missionaries financially. Missionary support is pretty critical to foreign missions, and they need “ordinary” people who are financially able to support them.

I made a comment to Derek to that effect, and we both agreed that when we could afford it we’d like to put more of our money toward supporting foreign missionaries. And on top of that maybe we could even take a short-term missions trip together in the future. Maybe when this guy had grown we can go as a family.

DSC_0222blog

(Yes, I just kind of used that as an excuse to throw in a picture of Wyatt – this post needed some cuteness to break things up . . . back to the point.)

That was the extent of our conversation. I didn’t think much more about it, because in my head all that involvement would be down the road. When we can afford it. Because honestly, there isn’t a whole lot of extra money around these parts in this season of our life.

Then the Lord kind of dropped something in my lap. It’s as if He was saying to me that He didn’t want me to wait until things were perfect, He wanted me to use what I have to help missionaries right now.

And the main resource that I have?

That would be this blog. It’s not the biggest blog out there, but the Lord can use even this.

I have a guest post coming up from a young missionary family who are trying to get their story out and raise support. I came into contact with them through a blog friend who sent me an e-mail about them about a week after that conversation with Derek in our car. The timing was uncanny, and before I knew it I decided to have this young missionary mom write a guest post for me. Their story is powerful, and I know you’ll enjoy it, so keep an eye out for that in the next few days!

I guess the main reason I’m writing this post is to get you to thinking about what resources you have that you could use to further God’s Kingdom? To make disciples of all nations? Because we are all called to do that.

For some it will look like jungles halfway around the world, taking care of orphans, and ministering physically and spiritually to those who have so little.

For others it will be devoting that extra ten minutes in prayer before waking up the baby, or forgoing that new spring top because that money is meant to go to those who are doing the hard work of going to the nations.

For all of us it means being ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15), and not just being ready but looking for those opportunities to talk about Jesus.

And it should look like sacrifice.

Am I good at it? No. I blow five bucks at Starbucks too often, I don’t pray nearly enough in general, much less for missionaries, and I find myself scared to bring up the topic of my faith to those who might disagree with me. I know how it goes. I’m still working on it. This challenge isn’t only for you, it’s for me too.

Just think it over? And then find something you can do to help in spreading the good news of Jesus!

Life can be full of a lot of things, but it’s all meaningless in the end if we don’t devote what we can to the only thing that really matters.

Stay tuned for the missionary story coming up later this week!








I would like to take this opportunity to say that I would love to feature more Christian missionary stories on here. So if you are a missionary, and are interested in doing a guest post for me, send me an e-mail at throughcloudedglass@gmail.com. Or if you happen to know a missionary who might be interested in getting some exposure (humble as it may be) in the blog world, send them my way!

The One Where I Ruin A Wedding And Eat Cookies

 

This Saturday my sister is getting married.  It’s hard to believe how fast the months have gone by!  It feels like it was a couple weeks ago that her now-fiancé sent me a text asking about what kind of rings she liked.

A few months ago (actually shortly before she got engaged) I had the weirdest, most pathetic dream. It was one of those dreams that is so vivid you almost wake up distressed, because the dream felt so real. 

It was a dream about my sister’s wedding, and when I told it to her later we were both cracking up laughing.  I had tears in my eyes, because it was just so ridiculous and funny.  So I thought it would be great for a little comic relief on here.  I hope it gives you at least a chuckle on this Monday morning!

------------------------------------------------------------

My sister was getting married. I, of course, was the Maid of Honor, and I wanted to make her day as perfect as possible.

Her colors were turquoise blue and orange (it was a really pretty combination), and they were getting married in a castle. Tables of delicious food were everywhere, and there were hundreds of people in attendance.

The ceremony was getting ready to start. The guests were seated, and groomsmen were lined up, and the man of my sister’s dreams (who actually was her now-fiance, even in my dream) was waiting at the altar.

I had these little blue earrings that I had got for all the bridesmaids, because they matched Rachel’s colors. For some reason I had left them in the sanctuary, so I went in there to get them. I also needed to get the boutonnieres for the guys, because everything had to be perfect.

Some of this is going to get a little fuzzy. My aunt was involved in the wedding planning in some way, and she had this “master book” with every detail for the wedding in it. Well, for some reason, someone in the sanctuary had the master book, and they gave it to me!

And then I dropped it and a lot of stuff fell out of it.

Everyone gasped. I grabbed up all the papers, stuffed them back into the book, and panicked. In that dream-moment, all that mattered to me was that I get those earrings to the bridesmaids. So I grabbed up as many of them as I could (there were a ridiculous amount of bridesmaids), and I ran out of the ceremony room, through the halls of the castle to where I knew my sister was getting dressed.

It was horrible, because I wasn’t even there to help her get dressed, and I wasn’t even ready myself yet. When I got there, all the bridesmaids and female relatives were lining up in the hall, getting ready to walk to the ceremony. The bridesmaids were wearing these pretty orange dresses, and I knew the earrings would look perfect with them.

When I saw they were lining up, I called out for them to wait. My sister was just stepping out of the room in her white dress, and she looked like a vision. My mom asked why, and I said that I had these earrings for the bridesmaids (even though they were all already wearing matching earrings that were not my earrings, but apparently that didn’t matter because I thought my earrings were special), and I needed to get the boutonnieres for the guys.  And then I said that I didn’t have the master book, and that I dropped some stuff out of it and left it in the ceremony room.

At the news of the master book, everyone freaked out.

Bridesmaids scattered, my mom and aunt took off for the ceremony room, and I went running through the halls trying to help. I’m not sure what I did with the earrings at this point, but I didn’t have them anymore.

It was a mess. As we reached the ceremony room, we realized that all the guests were getting impatient for things to start.  All of a sudden they all got up to leave en mass.

I panicked at this point. These people had to stay for my sister’s wedding!

My mom and aunt went back to tell Rachel that everyone was leaving. My sister, not one to take things sitting down, got this stubborn look on her face and went back into the room.  If you know my sister, you know this look.  She’s a fighter, I tell you, and I knew she was going to do something. I’m not sure what she decided to do though, because I didn’t see her for the rest of the dream.

I just knew that I couldn’t let this happen. I couldn’t let my sister’s wedding be ruined all because of me losing the master book! So I ran through the halls toward the entrance (this castle was seriously like a maze), because I needed to fix it.

As I was tripping through the halls I lost my balance, grabbed a corner of a table cloth, and cookies and cakes went flying everywhere.  I ended up on the floor, with guests gawking at me and cookies in crumbs all around me.  At that point I just laid flat on my back and started sobbing, because I had ruined Rachel’s wedding (this is where it gets really pathetic).

My mom and aunt came up and saw me, but I was still on the floor just crying. Then I grabbed one of the cookies that had fallen and I ate it (I’m really not a depressed eater in real life, honest).

I gathered myself up and continued running through the halls, trying to figure out how to fix things, and bawling my eyes out. I saw a picture of my sister and her husband-to-be on the wall, and that made me cry more.

I finally made it to the foyer, and saw a bunch of kids headed for the doors.  For some reason all the parents had left without their kids, and the kids had realized their parents were gone and started to leave too.

But then my dad, called out for everyone to stop! All the kids turned around to listen to my dad.

Then the band started to play, and my dad got everyone doing a dance that everyone apparently knew.  Except for me – I tried to do it, but I looked ridiculous.  (My dad is really not the type to get everyone doing a synchronized dance, so when I told my sister this part later we were laughing so hard.)

Even Wyatt was doing the dance in his ducky pajamas (which, you know, is such appropriate attire for a wedding).

Then Derek came in and woke me up.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Considering the direction my dream was turning, I suspect that everyone would have returned, the ceremony would have gone on, and the reception could have been a ton of fun.

That’s how I’m ending my dream in my head, anyway.  Because when I have disturbing dreams I always come up with a happy ending for them after I wake up.

You know, I’ve had other dreams about my sister’s wedding. I dreamed once that I got lost in the huge church where she was getting married, and they got married without me, and they asked the groom’s sister stand in for me instead. And I sat down and cried my eyes out, because I had missed Rachel’s wedding.

I must have a deep, sub-conscious fear that I will (1) miss my sister’s wedding, or (2) totally ruin my sister’s wedding.

Regardless, my dreams of her wedding always end with me crying.

Or maybe it’s just a reflection of real life, because I know when she gets married on Saturday, it’ll probably all end with me going home and crying. You know I’ll be happy for her, but . . . I don’t know, I just know I’ll want to cry.

I just hope the part about me being clumsy, and ruining the wedding, and laying on the floor bawling isn’t a reflection of real life!

I guess we’ll see on Saturday.

Our Last Great Hope Review

I decided to review "Our Last Great Hope: Awakening The Great Commission" by Ronnie Floyd because the description reminded me of the book "Radical" by David Platt, which I found to be very thought-provoking and inspiring. "Our Last Great Hope" is about what we as churches and individuals can do to work toward spreading the gospel of Jesus to those who haven't heard it - "fulfilling the Great Commission". I was hoping to glean more motivation to do what I can to share the gospel from this book. It did not disappoint me.



You can tell from the outset that Floyd is very passionate about the Great Commission. The first few chapters seemed to be directed more at what churches can do to help further the gospel, and I was afraid I wasn't going to get much practical application for myself since I'm not a church leader. But about halfway through the book Floyd starts focusing more on changes that individuals can make to more effectively reach people for the Lord. I loved the section on evangelizing our children, and the chapters on "talking Jesus more" and reevaluating finances to do more for God's Kingdom were challenging and offered just what I was looking for when I picked up this book in the first place.

One thing that bothered me at the outset was that I felt Floyd was focusing so much on how we haven't "fulfilled the Great Commission" in the sense that there are still people who haven't heard about Jesus. It was almost as if he was discounting all the work and energy some of the great Christians in history have put forth to bring people to Christ and saying it wasn't good enough.

As I continues reading, however, I understood more of what he meant - he's viewing the Great Commission more as a measurable goal (ie. every person on earth hearing about Jesus), as opposed to an ongoing work, which is how I always viewed it before. He speaks throughout the book about missionaries in church history as examples to be followed, so it became apparent as I read more that he was not discounting their work as I thought in the beginning.

I found myself trying to think of ways to save money to offer more to mission work, ways that I can get involved in spreading the gospel, and I was motivated to pray more for missionaries and those who don't know Jesus. Any book that gets me thinking more along those lines is very worth reading. I'd recommend this book to any Christians who are looking for some inspiration to get more involved in obeying Jesus last command to us to "go make disciples of all nations . . .".

Note: I received this book from BookSneeze for free in exchange for this review. This is my honest opinion.

Read the official book description here.


© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.