Changing Adventure

October 30th 2010

Two weeks ago we made the decision to take on a new adventure.  At the time we were unaware of an amazing option we had for this adventure that we have now discovered and are excited to undertake.  Our new adventure was home schooling, our changing adventure is virtual schooling, public school at home through a virtual charter school.  The program is amazing.  If any of you have heard of the K12 curriculum that is what it is based on.  For kids like Bryan this is great, because it lets them work on their level, grow at their pace, and never holds them back because of the rest of the class.

Bryan will still be home but Nevada Virtual Schools provides all the lesson plans and all the supplies.  Whatever he needs to do a unit they will send him.  Like a public school he will be assigned a teacher who will track his progress and put together the lesson plans that best meet his needs.  We will both have contact with that teacher throughout the year  His work will take about 4-5 hours any given day, with approximately 25% of that being online.  For us, this not only allows him to work at his advanced level, but takes the pressure off of me to keep up with him in planning and teaching.  I will still play a very active role in his schooling, but I will be able to use their tools to help me in the process.

So this new adventure we have been undertaking for 2 weeks is now changing, but we believe it is only another step in the right direction for Bryan.  When I told Bryan “you will be able to learn at your pace without waiting for anyone” he reacted with excitement.  Waiting was a consistent problem for him in public school, and even this last two weeks he has had to wait on me since he moved through things faster then I anticipated.  So the prospect of not waiting on anyone to learn and move on must be exciting for him.

In The Books

October 23rd 2010

The first week of our new adventure is in the books, literally.  We have completed one week of home school, and the student told a neighbor he loved his new teacher.  That would be Mrs. Porter, and no that is not my mother in law.  It took me a couple of days to get use to being called Mrs. Porter because no one calls me that, even the youth at church.  Not only does the student love his new teacher, the teacher loves her new student and is loving this adventure.

I have learned this week that my student can learn one particular subject faster then I had planned on.  This is a great problem to have, but it made Mrs. Porter have to print more worksheets then she thought she would.  I also learned that I can be up and ready to teach at 10:00am every day, which is a great accomplishment for me.  Mrs. Porter discovered that her memory can be a problem, but that the internet will make up for that most of the time.  The student learned that Mrs. Porter likes hands on learning for subjects like science since we did an experiment nearly every day.  In the end, now that the first week is in the books, we have learned that you don’t need a stack of text books to do school.  What you need is a student who excited to learn, and a teacher who is willing to feed that excitement.  If every week goes this well, please Lord, school will be a huge success.

For those of you who follow me on twitter, and are friends with me on face book, you already know this.  Starting on Monday we will be home schooling Bryan.  All of the history behind our decision is not important, the only thing that is significant is that we are convinced that this is the best way to ensure his educational needs are met.  All of the details will be set into place over the next week or two, in the meantime we will work with what we have available to us and figure out a schedule that works.

This is only sort of a new adventure because Bryan was home schooled in kindergarten.  Once that year was over we made the decision that putting him in school would be best.  The primary reason was my health, at that point I was still having 3-6 seizures a day and had not yet had my surgery.  Now, though I am still having an occasional seizure, my life is not nearly as disrupted by it.  Will it be perfect? Will it come easy?  NO.  What we do know is that with one student being taught by one teacher he will be the focus and he will be taught what he needs and based on where he is.  This is a new adventure because teaching addition and subtraction is much different then teaching decimals, fractions, American history and science.  For me this will be an adventure in memory, for Bryan it will sometimes be an adventure in patience.  Regardless of all of that we have a wonderful principle.  Mr. Porter will be the principle at this school, and yes being married to the teacher Mrs. Porter will have it’s advantages and disadvantages, but in the end we know the student will benefit from it.

The paperwork has already been filed, so Monday we will officially de-enroll Bryan from school, he will clean out his desk, and this new adventure will begin.  With the Lord’s wisdom and guidance we take this on.

What Is Your Passion?

October 13th 2010

When we have a passion for something it becomes part of who we are.  Combine having a passion with our spiritual gifts and it becomes essential to our growth and to the building up of the church.  When we can’t fully exercise that passion, it is like taking a part of who we are away.  All have them spiritual gifts, and we should all be using them in the body of Christ.  What is your passion?

Now imagine if the ability to exercise that passion was taken away from you or if circumstances change to make it harder for you to fully exercise that passion.  How would you respond?  Hurt, frustrated, discouraged.  That is how I feel right now.  My passion in the church is youth ministry, teaching youth.  When I was first a believer someone I knew recognized something in me I didn’t yet know was there.  I started working with Jr. Highers with an amazing group of people and fell in love with youth ministry.  I was able to exercise my gifts and loved it.  Through the last 18 years I have, with little exception, worked in youth ministry.  The times I didn’t were frustrating to me because I was not exercising my gifts doing what I had a passion for.  When I am exercising those gifts doing what the Lord has given me a passion for, I experience the most growth in my life, and the most joy in my relationship with the Lord.  When something stands in the way of that it becomes frustrating, then it hurts.  My challenge is to not allow that to effect my relationship with the Lord.  Circumstances constantly change, and the Lord desires for us to exercise our gifts regardless of those circumstances.

So here is my question for you.  What is your passion and how are using your gifts to fulfill that in the body of Christ?  Have you discovered that ministry that has become a part of who you are?  Do you feel as if a part of you is missing when you are not fully exercising your gifts in that ministry?  If you have found that never allow a circumstance to change your passion and take that part of you away.  If you have not found how you can use your gifts and discovered a ministry you have passion for, look for it.  Ask the Lord to lead you to it, for when you find it your joy will overflow and you will be blessed in your relationship with the Lord.  As for me, though I am frustrated and discouraged, I will use my gifts in youth ministry regardless of the changing circumstances, because if I don’t I will letting a part of me get taken away.

My Memory

September 27th 2010

After my last post a few days ago I realized I had already posted on that same subject the week earlier.  This is a by product of having bad short term memory.  Short term memory for me is one of those things that goes on and off as fast as you can flip a light switch.  This is one of the unfortunate side effects of having my right temporal lobe removed.  Amongst a few side effects of my surgery this one is definitely the most challenging!

For those of you who have chatted with me online you know my typing is horrendous.  That is caused in part by my brain thinking “type this” but not remembering to tell my fingers to do it!  I might type wrong words, type the same word twice because I forgot I just typed it, or simply forget which key I pushed last!  Alone with bad typing I am blessed with the inability to remember simple things.  I fear one day my husband will get tired of being my personal memory storage, as I am always telling him things we need to remember.  I tell him what I need to get at the store, what I need to do, and I even tell him “I know I’ll forget this so will you remind me”.  Of course if he forgets these things it causes a problem!  My memory has literally become like a strainer, great for draining things but not for storing them!  The funniest thing is I never know what it is that will fall through all those tiny holes.  For example, every Thursday I ask my husband what time he goes to work on Friday, since that varies.  There are weeks he has to tell me a dozen times.  That same scenario is repeated on Friday for his Saturday start time.  I cannot count how many times he has told me “I already told you that” only to forget I asked him a little while later

The most frustrating part of losing my memory is that I use to be the one to remember everything!  I never wrote anything down, I never used a calendar or appointment book, I never struggled to remember peoples names, and I rarely took notes in school.  My memory is one of the things that made me good at my job.  Now, my memory is what makes me so bad at so many things.  At first I cried when I would forget simple things, like the 3 things I went into the store to buy.  Now I am happy when I can remember those 3 things!  I have learned to have a schedule, not wait until the last minute, write things down, and ask others to remember things for me.  My memory may not be so good, but I have learned to ask for help, which is better then doing it all alone.  It is when we are at our weakest that we learn the most about ourselves, and I learned I had been to proud to ask for help from others.  This is certainly not the case anymore, for many things, including asking my husband to be my back up memory.  There are days that without that help I would have no idea what day of the week it was.

My Responsibility

September 22nd 2010

Over the last few weeks I have been challenged to evaluate what my primary responsibilities are.  This is not the first time I have had this challenge, and not the first time I have come to the same conclusion.  I was challenged because the enemy was not thrilled with what I was doing, and as always when he is not happy he tries to throw me off track!  Today is the perfect day to share this, for it is my husband’s birthday.

Now I will preface this by saying that I have been both a working wife and mother, and at home.  Neither one of these is more Godly then the other, what is however is where our priority lies regardless of which we choose.  Several years ago when I was working something happened in my life that made me question where my priority was, and where it should be.  I came to a pretty distinct conclusion, and now today I know my conclusion was right and am glad I determined myself to change my priority.  This is not about whether you do anything in particular, work or not, whether you’re a parent of 1 or 6 or even none, whether you home school or not, what kind of car you drive, or if you vote.  This is about what God intended when we are married.

When I faced that challenge I concluded this, that my primary responsibility as a wife is to support my husband in his ministry and ensure he is able to complete it without hindrance.  That I must ensure that he has the time to do it, the resources to do it, and the support in prayer to do it.  That regardless of what I do about working or what ministry I am in, I must always ensure he is able to do his ministry.  This may mean I need to work to support us, it may mean I need to be home ensuring all things are done to free his time for his ministry.  It may mean spending money on things that will support his ministry rather then buying what I would choose.  It most definitely means not doing anything that would cause him to stumble.

When I first figured this out I was working, and it was difficult for me to change my thought process.  At the time I thought we should both be equally responsible to do everything, and that he had to sacrifice as much as I did.  The reality is I was making him compromise to get what I wanted, which meant I was not supporting him in his ministry.  I discovered that by freeing his time to do his ministry, and being his helpmate in it, we were stronger.  Now that I am home all the time I have concluded that supporting him in his ministry is still my primary responsibility, not cooking, laundry, dishes, and other chores.  Yet, by being the one that does the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, and those other annoying things like cleaning the bathroom, I am allowing him to have the time he needs to prepare for and do his ministry.  I can not expect him to be successful in his ministry if I also expect him to do things I can easily do while he is at work.

The most important support I can give, over anything else, is prayer.  Without prayer all the other things are insufficient to ensure he can do his ministry.  So in the midst of cleaning, laundry, cooking, or any other thing I might be doing, if I think of him I lift him to the Lord.  Do I dare ask when was the last time you prayed for your spouse?

This Means What To Me?

August 27th 2010

This past Sunday something happened in church that made me evaluate again what my primary purpose is.  My husband was voted to be a deacon at our church.  People were telling me congratulations, which meant nothing since it wasn’t me who was chosen, it was him.  I began to think “this means what to me?”  I thought back to something I decided a few years ago.

A few years ago something happened in our life that made me come to the conclusion that as a wife and mother my primary responsibility was to support my husband in his ministry.  That my primary responsibility is to ensure he has the time, resources, and support to complete the task before him.  Yes I have my own ministries, yet as a wife those come second to supporting him in his.  I must be willing at times to make sacrifices in things I may want, to ensure he has what he needs to accomplish his task.  I must always be evaluating if I am doing anything that hinders his time or causes him to stumble.  I need to ask myself if I am making sure he has the time to complete his task rather then filling all his time with a to do list, things I want done.  I must support him with my energy and with our resources so that the task before him is light.

After making this my primary responsibility the last few years, I have decided that this decision means the same thing to me.  As a wife I find joy in seeing my husband succeed in what God has laid before him, so if I make it impossible for him to do so I steal joy from both of us, as well as cause the body of Christ to suffer because he is not succeeding.  This means what to me?  That I need to continue in doing what I have been doing, supporting my husband so he can do what God has laid before him.  At times that really can just mean I don’t ask him to do dishes, and I make sure his laundry is done, so those things I will do and do with joy knowing I am making it possible for him to do what God has asked of him.

Out Of The Gap

August 9th 2010

For those of you who have read my blog for sometime, you might recall when I posted “Approaching The Gap” and “In The Gap“.  Well, last week I finally got out of the gap.  I am no longer stuck in what some refer to as the donut hole in the medicare system.  I have now reached catastrophic coverage for my medicare part D.  For any of you who know how this works it tells you something about how much I have spent on my medications this year already.  The biggest advantage of being out of the gap is that I will now pay what I think is nearly nothing for them.  Back when I was approaching the gap, and especially when I was in the gap, I looked forward to when I would be out of the gap and reach catastrophic coverage and most of my cost would be covered.

Of course given that I had written about this in the past I again got to thinking.  Catastrophic coverage may be available in medicare part D, and it may be available with your insurance company, but it is not available with God.  You see, catastrophic coverage is when you have reached a limit and then something or someone kicks in to cover the rest.  God doesn’t have a catastrophic coverage plan.  You see, there is no spending what you can, doing as much as you can, then counting on God to do the rest.  He is either covering it all for you, or He covers none at all.  There is a gap between us and God.  Each of us have to choose whether we will allow Christ to cover that gap or if we will attempt to do it on our own.  In the end, when catastrophe strikes, those who count on what they can do to bridge that gap will find their coverage insufficient.

With medicare the rules are simple, you spend so much you reach the gap.  Spend so much more and you are out of the gap.  With God the rules are simple as well.  We all have a gap, Christ died to cover the gap and ensure we had the coverage we needed.  We can not cover this gap ourselves, it is impossible.  For those that believe Christ died to cover them catastrophe never really strikes, for death allows us to be where we have looked forward to being, with God.  For those who attempt to cover the gap on their own death is a catastrophe for they discover their coverage was insufficient, and Christ’s coverage is no longer available to them.

If you are attempting to cover the gap on your own, by being good or doing good, consider what a catastrophe it will be when you discover that is insufficient coverage.  Consider what a catastrophe it will be when you die and Christ’s coverage is no longer available to you.  Sufficient coverage is available to all, through belief in Christ and the coverage He gives us on the cross.  The coverage is available to all who call on His name and believe that He has died to bridge the gap between us and God.  If you believe that only Christ gives us sufficient coverage and have not yet called out to him to accept that coverage, do so now.  You do not want to discover you have insufficient coverage when you need it.

I have heard this term several times during the training Mike and I finished yesterday.  A deal breaker is something you absolutely can not tolerate.  It means that you cannot care for a child in your home with the trait, behavior, or history that you term deal breaker.  While training we were made aware of all the possibilities when it comes to children we might care for.  Everything from what the home they are coming from might be like, to how they might behave because of it.  We were trained on how to deal with the ramifications that happen for a child when they are in foster care.  Part of training was to discover what your deal breakers were.  For us there are not so many of those, since we were pretty aware of what we were walking into.  For us the deal breaker with some children is the fact that we have stairs, so a child in a wheelchair would not be able to stay with us.  We were given a list of about 150 different traits and possible child history to give a scale of 0-5 on our willingness to deal with that trait.  There are things on that list like bed wetting, stealing, seizures, deformities, and history of abuse.  For some a deal breaker might be a child who is sick, or a child who lies, runs away, or steals.

All of this got me thinking.  We have deal breakers for a lot of things in our life.  We have deal breakers on whether someone is our friend,  where we shop, many of things we choose to spend our time on, and for some people there are deal breakers with God.  Yes, deal breakers with God.  Have you ever thought to yourself “I would do anything for God, except”?  That except is your deal breaker, the something that you wouldn’t do even if God asked you to.  We have to ask ourselves why we have those, and if having deal breakers with God is going to allow us to be in His will.  I have personally found that when I have said “I would do anything for God, except” I ended up having to do that very thing anyway.  Sometimes not by choice, but by circumstance.  I use to say “I would move anywhere for God except a small town or in the desert”, yet I live in a small town in the desert.  Deal breakers with Go simply do not work.

I challenge you to listen to yourself talk about what you would do for God and see if you ever say except, or even think it.  If there is something reconsider that point, for some day you may end up doing that thing you thought was a deal breaker.  If you do end up doing that very thing you thought was a deal breaker and have never considered God’s perspective on that, you could very well end up angry at Him for forcing you into it.  So reconsider whether deal breakers with God are something You want to have.

Some of you know what my husband Mike and I have decided to do as a family, most of you do not.  Our new adventure started with a conversation something like this:

Me:  Mike there is something I need to tell you.  There is something I have wanted to do for some time, but never thought the timing was right or that we had the space.  Now that we have a house I want us to consider becoming foster parents, and adopting a child out of foster care.

Mike:  That is something I have thought about many times, but I believed it had to come from you so I never brought it up.

Me:  Wow.  I guess we are both on the same page then.

Mike:  Yes.

After that we talked at length about what it would mean and how it would effect our lives, including Bryan.  Our next conversation was with Bryan.  We were very honest with him about foster care and what it meant.  Why children need to be in it and how we could help them.  His response was “That sound like a great idea”.

I then called the county offices and spoke to the person in charge of foster care.  We spoke at length twice.  He told me that their office was going through a transition but that we would definitely hear from him again.  Months went by and we wondered if he had forgotten about us.  Then, just two days ago we got a notice in the mail that another training session has been scheduled.  The amazing part of this is that Mike is off the Saturday it starts;  Mike being off on a Saturday is rare.

Many more things fell into place to help us realize that God’s timing is perfect.  Not only is Mike off that day, we were able to make arrangements for Bryan to stay with my sister in law.  We are going to be able to stay free overnight in the town the training is held, which is 2 hours away.  We then received a phone call informing us we have a refund coming from our title company for several hundred dollars.  This money will help us prepare for our new adventure, as we will need to buy a few things like additional bedroom furniture.  We are also amazed that I now know I will not be having an additional surgery and have more answers in terms of my health.  The timing it takes to put all this together could only have been orchestrated by God.  He has once again shown His sovereignty in our lives.

Mike and I believe that God’s timing is an amazing way for us to see His will for our lives.  When we think something is in His will, but details do not come together, we must always evaluate whether we are on the path He intends for us.  When we believe we are in God’s will and details fall into place perfectly God’s timing is reinforcing for us His will.  This is not the first time we have seen God’s timing revealed in ways that amaze us, yet every time it happens we are in awe of God’s perfect plan.  He is aware of everything, every detail, every decision, every step it takes to make His plan come to action, and He will see it done.  When we see Him act on our behalf through His timing it allows us to see His wisdom and His grace.  Wisdom to know the exact need and grace to allow it to happen for us.

So as we set out on the first step to our new adventure we will continue to seek God for His wisdom and His leading.  We know He desires to give us exactly what we need to accomplish what we have set out to do for Him, we just need to be looking to Him to receive it.

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