Focus of the Season

I’m back home from my quick trip! Looking at my calendar for this month I know that it’s going to fly by. It’s imperative for me to get my focus set right now on what the holiday season is all about. For us, it’s celebrating the birth of Jesus. My hope is that I’ll remember that as I get tied down in the busyness of life and celebrations this month. Here’s a reminder:

Nativity figures are shown behind a frame. Not So SAHM

Focus of the Season – ProjectEdit365 – 04 Dec

I took this the first December that I had my “big” camera. The composition was off  and it’s a little warm. I cropped to straighten and to get rid of the distraction around the frame. I wanted to keep my daughter’s hand though. I used an adjustment brush to cool down the figures, decrease their clarity just a bit to soften the look and increase their contrast. I decreased the highlights and the vibrance of the whole picture. Here’s the original:

04dec

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Election Day

In the end, this is what matters. Love God and love your neighbors. What matters is individual actions.

The word love is spelled out with metal stamps. Not So SAHM

Election Day – ProjectEdit365 – 08 Nov

I love shooting with a shallow depth of field. I like negative space, too, but liked the square look and think that there’s still enough negative space. I increased the exposure, contrast, and clarity and cooled the temp a bit. It was still kind of yellow so I went to the yellow slider and completely zeroed out the saturation. I sharpened, decreased the noise and added a little vignetting. Here’s the original:

08nov

 

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Sunset along the Pacific Coast at Pacific Grove, California Not So SAHM

Oceans

Sunset along the Pacific Coast at Pacific Grove, California Not So SAHM

Oceans – ProjectEdit365 – 04 Feb

I took this picture in Pacific Grove, California in February 2015. When I was editing it tonight it made me think of one of my favorite songs right now – Oceans by United. The very first line is “You call me out upon the waters”. Lately I’ve been getting the feeling that God is preparing us for some future service. He’s calling us out preparing to take us deeper than our feet could ever wander. Oh to be ready and willing.

With this edit, I used one of Matt Kloskowski’s HDR Presets for Lightroom.

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Beach in Monterey Not So SAHM

Object lesson – beach

Even with protests from one who would prefer to stay home, I packed a quick lunch of finger foods, grabbed my camera and a blanket, and ushered my two students out the door. We read something last week that I have been ruminating on and I wanted to share that bigness with the girls. It takes all of five minutes to get to the beach, and within that time all complaints about leaving the house had subsided. I did promise that we wouldn’t be there for too long, though.

Beach in Monterey Not So SAHM

Beach through the Instagram lens

How could you not want to come here every day?

Beach in Monterey Not So SAHM

Object lessons tend to remain with us longer than words on paper. Our minds work by painting pictures, and to see those pictures come to life can make something we read, and even believe without actually seeing, become reality and even more believable. The images we created in our minds are played out in front of us–something easier to grasp, to remember. Meaning becomes meaningful.

tiny stick on the beach sand in California Not So SAHM

Last week we read Psalm 139. It says

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!”

This is what I wanted my girls to experience, the object lesson that I wanted engrained into their minds. Before the words I quoted above, the psalm talks about how God knew the psalmist before he was even born. “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.” God was thinking about my girls before they were and He continues to think about them. His thoughts about us outnumber the grains of sand.

Grains of sand on a California Beach Not So SAHM

That is a lot of thoughts. I had the girls pick up a handful of sand and let it sift through their fingers. It would be difficult enough to count the grains in these small palms.

California beach sand cupped in hands Not So SAHM

The psalms are poetry and full of imagery. Who knows exactly how many thoughts God has about each of us, but the point is, He thinks about us. A lot. From before we were, to now, to forever in the future. Everyone.

California beach sand cupped in hands Not So SAHM

There’s enough sand to go around.

I’m so thankful when school and life can coincide big like this. And all in less than 45 minutes. Even if you aren’t a homeschooler you can seize upon opportunities to create object lessons. I need to keep my eyes open to more of them.

     Not So SAHM

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You Never Let Go

[For maximum effect click You Never Let Go and then continue to read]

 Thursday started out with promise and anticipation. I was excited that we were going to get school done in the morning and head to Kansas City to visit family and see the Bodies Revealed Exhibit. I was excited about there only being two days of school left. It’s funny how tender and fragile your self esteem is and how that can affect the rest of you.

First, I had to get two tote bags ready to deliver. They had been flawed in tiny ways. I had fixed the flaws satisfactorily for me, but would the customer be happy with the changes I made. I was dreading dropping them off because I didn’t want there to be any disappointment. I wanted to just redo them, but there wasn’t time, and when you run a small business you try to make every penny count. Strike One.

Then, Reagan had to write about her school year for her spelling assignment today. This is what she wrote:

I don’t reely like home skool beekos my mommy is olwase made at me. I drest up reely pretty today and it is a pretty day otside to. but I am going to get in trodl beekos my mom sed if I don’t finish my pagese wen she gets ote of the showere I will by in trabl.

No, I’m not teaching her Old English. It looks like I’m failing at teaching spelling and at teaching about staying on topic. And at being a good homeschooling teacher in general. And at being a mother. I started crying before she even finished reading it to me. Strike Two.

I drove to Kansas City with a headache that lasted the whole day. While at the Bodies exhibit I managed to lose a check I had written to my stepmother to cover the cost of the tickets. How did it fall out of my back pocket? How freaked would Du be when he found out? How much financial info could they get? Could our bank cancel the check without it costing a fortune? Strike Three.

I did have a good day despite these things. It helps to get my mind on other things. And Ashlyn behaved the whole day, which was a special blessing from God in itself. I needed some perspective though.

On the way home this David Crowder Band song came on. “You Never Let Go“. Oh my soul, no matter what happens in my life God has a firm grip on me. No matter how far I might stray or for how ever long, He never lets go of me. It’s hard to fathom…the God of the universe cares so much about me that He never lets go of me. What peace that brings. It makes these trivial problems disappear. It makes the monumental catastrophes bearable. I don’t have to go through anything on my own strength. I can’t go through anything on my own strength. But with God firmly holding onto me I can bear anything. It’s when I remember that He never lets go, and when I remember that I must let go, that things get better.

My problems today were trivial. If I had needed to redo the bags then I’d just redo them! This customer is a good one and a good friend at that…what was I so worried about? She ended up loving them and showing them to a neighbor. And kids are notorious for living in the present. No, Reagan doesn’t generally hate homeschool. It’s just lately she’s been a little distracted and so I’ve had to lay on the pressure a little bit more. Most of the time we enjoy school. In her of-the-moment mind though she doesn’t immediately think on those times. And the check. If I’d have had to cancel it then I’d have had to cancel it, big deal. I learned that things aren’t really safe tucked in your back pocket. (I retrieved the check though. I went to the lost and found in the remote chance that someone found it and actually turned it in. They did).

Lamentations 3:19-25

I remember my affliction and my wandering,

the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them,

and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind

and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord‘s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him;…

 

Oh God, You never let go.

 

Train Up A Child… (Should we teach our children to fake drink?)

I read the blog, Teens Today With Vanessa VanPetten. The topics she writes on are pretty interesting and as a parent you can’t stay too informed.

Today her post was Teaching Your Teen How To Drink. Obviously that title is meant to draw your attention. And maybe shock you for a second or two. She proceeds to give you pointers on how to teach your kids to pretend they’re drinking so they really don’t have to when they’re at a party…where there’s drinking, obviously. Please read it so you will know what I’m talking about. Also read the comment that I left and the response from Vanessa…and my response back. LOL

As a Christian parent I was shocked that she was giving this advice. One of our jobs as parents, whether Christian or not, is to teach our children morals, integrity and to do what’s right. My mantra is: it all comes back to the family. You must set up a strong family relationship while they’re young so they’ll still listen to you when they get older. I have to believe that will happen. It’s a biblical promise. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” How old is old? Does this mean when they are teenagers? It’s child-dependent, I’m sure.

As wrong as this advice immediately felt to me I could see both sides of the argument. I mean, if your kids are going to these parties you might as well equip them with tools to help them make it through alive. Right? If you trust your teen to do the right thing during these situations then you should help them through it. Right? It still just feels wrong. This is assuming it is ok for your kids to be hanging around this behavior. It’s also implying that you somewhat condone the behavior or at least accept that it’s going to happen no matter what.

But shouldn’t we be teaching our children that this behavior is wrong and that they shouldn’t want to be around it? Proverbs 23:20 says, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat.” If we’re teaching our children to love God, to try to be more like Him, and to try to live like Him then we’ll also be teaching them to desire what God desires, to want what He wants and to live the way He would have us live. Do you honestly think God wants our children at drinking parties?

On the other hand, the Bible also says we are to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). And Paul says that he was made all things to all men that he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). So are we to train up our children to be the salt and light at a party so they might save some of their friends or at least be a good influence on them? Not really. You will have to judge for yourself how strong your child is. For most kids it’s much easier to be influenced badly than to be the one influencing for good. I wouldn’t want to allow my child to be in a situation they weren’t mature enough to handle. Vanessa, in her article, is basically telling us to teach our kids that it’s ok not be a good influence, just don’t be influenced badly. She wants our kids to hide the fact that they’re not drinking. So basically, to hide the good influence that they could be.

Let’s think about the lying aspect of the situation. “Thou shalt not lie.” It’s one of the big ten. We are to teach our children to have integrity. The definition of integrity, according to dictionary.com is “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” If we are teaching our kids how to pretend to drink we’re teaching them how to lie around their friends. We’re teaching our children that it’s ok to pretend to be someone they’re not. What, in any way, is good about this?

Deu 6:4-9  

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

 

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.

 

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

  

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

  

Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

This is how we should be teaching and talking to our children. Talking to them about God and His ways constantly, in whatever situation we’re in. Not teaching them how to be compromisers.

The reason I struggle with this at all is because I have two children who are still very young. I don’t have teenagers. I’ve still got years to teach them Godly morals, biblical principles and integrity. I pray that they will never want to be in this kind of situation. But I don’t know that will happen. Will I need to use this tactic if all my training isn’t coming to fruition yet? I believe the Bible, so I believe that if I train them up correctly they will end up following my teaching. However they may not decide to follow that path while they are teenagers. All I can do is do my best to be a Godly example to them right now; be a mother who they look up to and who they want to emulate; be an influence for good, no, for the best, not for mediocrity. And pray like mad everyday.

What do you think? Are we leading our children to be mediocre at best if we teach them it’s ok to lie around their friends just to be liked? Is God pleased with this type of parenting? What are parents to do if they didn’t begin training their children while the children were young?