I am that prostitute…

This year I’ll be guest blogging with Modern Ruth Project.  Go check out this post on their site!

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I have nothing in common with a prostitute.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve had this thought many times in your life.  Or maybe you’ve never even thought about it all.  Which is ok because It’s likely not a common comparison.  But I can tell you with absolute certainty that you, yes you, have many things in common with the ladies of the night.

And I just couldn’t believe that I was so wrong about this.  Because I tend to be right about many things in life.  Which is also a lie.

But let me tell you a story of how I came face to face with my inaccurate thought processes:

There I was.  With all my holy haughtiness.  Sitting in the back of a van with a few other ladies and one gentleman.  Riding around an area in Atlanta known for its high rate of trafficking and prostitution.  I was excited, scared, anxious, and relaxed all at the same time.

I was sure that I was going to venture out into the darkness to bring the light.  That I would touch the souls of men and women who felt trapped in lives where their bodies encompassed their worth.

And that’s exactly what was going through my mind as we approached the first lady to give her a rose and extend a hand out of that way of life.  But as soon as I stepped out of the van to dramatically save her soul, I was smacked by a sudden realization.

Yes, Jesus slaps people.  Right in the face.  And it’s not a gentle nudge.  It involves all five fingers and has the weight of the Holy Spirit behind it.  And also behind that slap was an epiphany that this girl, these women, were all me.

I am broken.  I am a mother trying to make ends meet to raise my daughter in the best way I know how.  I feel overwhelmed by circumstances.  I struggle with keeping my worth in line with my God-given value.  I believe the lie that one decision won’t change my destiny.  I have allowed tiny decisions to add up until the damage was evident to myself and others.  And that damage led me to surrender in the arms of my Creator.

But one more decision could have brought me to those same corners where I came offering roses and hope.  One more decision could have landed me on dark stages stripping off pieces of myself to gain hurt in return.  One more decision could have seen me depending on the cheap approval of men to feel loved.

But that’s the funny thing about doing things for the Kingdom.  You walk in all high and mighty ready to change lives, only to realize that you were the one who needed changing.

And trust me, you’d much rather learn humility through service and putting on the suffering of others than have God knock you down to size.  I mean, have you read the Bible?  He’s been known to rain fire, instant death, and turn folks into a pillar of salt.  No thanks.  I don’t want to be the seasoning on anyone’s meal.

So next time you step out to share life, remember to see yourself in every single person that crosses your path and leave your piety at home. Vulnerability is more powerful than holiness.  And service is much more effective when others can see where you’ve been compared to where you are.  That is dealing hope that their lives can be better, can be different, rather than sending them the message that they could never be you.

PS – If after reading this, you are still of the mind that you couldn’t possibly be that person you’re serving, just remember three things.  One, Jesus slaps people.  Two, God can rain fire. FIRE.  And three, you are not that important (Galatians 6:3).

Forgiveness Resolutions

Here’s a little tidbit about me.  I’m not one of those people who typically makes new year’s resolutions.  I’m like Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch, but for December 31st instead of Christmas.  I’ve always been of the mind that resolutions make for temporary fixes to mask much deeper and more complicated problems.

But despite my feelings of antipathy towards committing to a lack of commitment for the new year, I realized that there truly was something to the old adage ‘new year, new me.’  And somehow that new me will include forgiveness.

So, yes I want to tone up and get at least a 2 pack this year.  But it has also been brought to my attention that in order for any other resolutions to fall into place, I have to make forgiveness a priority.  Bah humbug.

Now before you get all religious on me and stop reading because you feel you have no one to forgive, you’re probably wrong.  We all have that one person (or five) that you would rather walk over hot coals than honor any portion of their being.  We all harbor a little unforgiveness in us somewhere.  And here’s why: most humans will not engage in activities that don’t benefit our lives in some way.

Volunteering make us feel warm and tingly, worship make us feel connected, bungee jumping gives us a rush of adrenaline.  Forgiveness does not do that.  At least not at first.  But it is still necessary.

So in the spirit of the New Year Scrooge-ness, I’m going to list 5 reasons why forgiveness is annoying, but I am still resolving to make this a new habit in 2017….

Read more of this blog post on Modern Ruth Project!

“There’s so much to see…”

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Coney Island and all its splendor.

Last month, the Monkey and I went on a whirlwind adventure of the Big Apple.  And when I say adventure, I truly mean it.  We landed, got an unlimited pass for transit and rode the bus or subway from Brooklyn to Queens to Harlem to Times Square to Staten Island to Manhattan to Coney Island and everything in between.  On most days we visited at least 3 boroughs and managed to see absolutely everything she wanted to see.  We had no plan, no prepaid passes.  Just a willingness to see everything we could stuff into our 5 day journey.

And I have to admit that when booking this trip I thought we would only see one major attraction per day.  I mean she’s five, has little legs, and I don’t really like love people.  But despite its busyness and overwhelming population, we managed to make New York feel small.

We took our lessons on history, geography, ecology, biology, paleontology, astronomy, and *ahem* crowd etiquette on the road.  Basically, I turned our vacation into one massive field trip and I allowed her to take the lead.  Each day she chose what we would do and where we would explore and I just tagged along….and paid for stuff.

So I guess the lesson here for me was when you make learning feel, look, at smell like adventure, everyone benefits.  And no one whines or complains or throws hissy fits about absolutely nothing.

We also got free donuts from the diner in Park Slope because my kid’s so stinkin’ cute.  FREE DONUTS.  And that made the entire trip well worth it.

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Free donuts taste better.

The Dangererous Position of Neutral

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Recently, my kid’s school had its annual Thanksgiving feast and my daughter was not present.  Not because she was sick or had other five year old obligations.  But because I decided to keep her home.

Now before I continue I want to say that I love her school.  I love that she gets to experience both a school environment and learning with me at home most days.  I love that she gets to pray for others, learn about God and all his amazingness, and still learn how to read and spell at the same time.

But just because she is enrolled at a particular school or even public school doesn’t mean that I agree with absolutely everything that is taught or celebrated.  That would be negligence and ignorance on my part as a parent.  And recently one of those disagreements came up.  I sat down with her teacher, shared my views and opinions, was respected for my decision, and the show went on.

Growing up, I remember learning about Thanksgiving, Pilgrims and Indians, and the heroism of Christopher Columbus.  I remember dressing up in feathers and sharing fake turkey and corn during school plays.  I remember thinking that it was so amazing that a man could discover the Americas despite the doubts of his own people.

Then somewhere along the line I learned that almost none of the things that shaped my perception of Thanksgiving or discovery were true.  Yes, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and accidentally landed on various Caribbean islands.  But homeboy never actually set foot on North America.  So you can see the confusion as to why learning of his discoveries was so important.  And that’s not even touching the atrocities that came along when he found land, including slavery and wiping out populations with disease and murder.

On the other hand, I believe that our country and our world is coming to a precipice on how we react to cultural issues.  On one hand, there are groups of people screaming for justice, understanding, and equality.  On the other, you have those who feel these groups are being too sensitive and should understand that certain phrases, names, or traditions are just that.  And traditions never offend, right?

Well as a mother and a human, I felt like I needed to take a stand.  I didn’t feel the need to picket, protest, or angrily share my views and why I felt Christopher Columbus should not be celebrated or made part of a school assignment.  But I did feel the need to step away from what has become the norm and teach her that understanding the who, what, when, and why behind tradition is more important than the tradition itself.

I explained to her teacher that just because you or I may view someone’s offense as being too sensitive or not seeing the positive aspects of a Thanksgiving feast doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t acknowledge that hurt.  Because somewhere in that hurt is validity.  And whether I agree with it or not, I will make an effort to understand.  And once I understand, I will make the decision to teach my child that all traditions are not necessary and some of them may even be harmful.

Dressing up as “Pilgrims and Indians” may seem harmless, but there are echoes of discontentment that run deep in Native American culture that are dying to be heard.  Whether it’s cultural appropriation, cartoonish images, stereotypical war cries heard at football games, or the names of sports teams.  Each of these things has a history that I dare you to explore further.

And even if you decide these histories have nothing to do with you and bear no importance in the course of your life, at least acknowledge the weight they carry for others.

An Ode to the Lazy Daters

This post first appeared on Modern Ruth Project…go check it out!

The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion out there!  If I go outside, I might be killed!’ – Proverbs 22:13

Ok.  So I know that I’m supposed to be talking to all the single ladies.  All the Ruth’s out there waiting on their Boaz.  But for some reason I feel led to address the men first.  The guys.  The brothers.

Because if you were to Google the term “Christian dating,” “being single while christian,” or just plain old “dating,” 99% of the returned results would be geared towards women.  As if we’re dating or getting married to some invisible, non-existent species.  Or worse yet, that men are in no need of dating advice.  Which would be false.

But here’s what really grinds my gears.  I know so many incredible women who are being taught and inspired to wait.  To wait on God.  To wait on men to pursue.  But for some odd reason men are not being taught to actually do the pursuing.  Or even just the approaching of humans of the opposite sex.

Many times when you go to singles events at church, it looks more like a desert safari than a room full of grown people itching for a date.  Men on one side staying as far away from the imaginary entrance into the lion’s den of female hunters on the other side.

And that analogy may seem a bit far fetched, but you get what I’m saying.  Many men are fearful.  They’re afraid of rejection.  Afraid they might get ‘hurt again.’  Afraid they’ll look like a fool or less of a man if they put their pride on the line to pursue a woman intentionally.

Well you know what?  You might get rejected.  You might get ‘hurt again.’  And you will have to lay your ego down in order to let God take the forefront in your relationships – over and over again.  But don’t let the laziness or fear keep you from the great things God has for you because you’re afraid.

Because in the arena of dating, when you step outside of your comfort zone and take chances to get to know women God has placed in your life, it may not exactly be a confidence builder.

She might cut you with her words.  She might shoot you down with a nasty glance and a mean side eye.  She may not answer that text in a timely fashion.  But it is still your responsibility to take the risk of being rejected, cut, shot down, and sometimes even wait on her as long as you’re walking in obedience.

Now to my ladies.  To my Ruth’s still waiting on their Boaz.  Do not take that man’s fear as your opportunity to pounce.

A man who is too afraid to ask you out or take that chance in just saying hello doesn’t need to be coaxed out of his man cave of trepidation.  That’s where the ambiguous ‘friendgirls’ and ‘textlationships’ live.  And we all know how those stories end…Or how they go on forever and ever with no end in sight.

God did not call you to become less of yourself so as not to threaten the timid.  You were called to be dangerous for the Kingdom.  And the man who is not scared to take on the challenge and privilege of loving you will be drawn to, not fearful of your purpose.

So whether you’re trusting in the wait or following God’s lead in the pursuit, you can know for certain that there is no such thing as immunity from challenges or human rejection.

Faith is the epitome of freedom but it is not safe. There are lions out there, and you will learn a few lessons in humility.  But staying in the confines of fear is not an option when you walk with an almighty God.

Stay bold my friends…

Roz

You are what you fear.

I was sitting at home, casually perusing through Facebook when I noticed a pattern on my feed.  All of my friends were posting photos of their date nights, snaps with their husbands for a night on the town, and those strange mirror selfies while getting dressed up for dinner.

My first thought was “Seriously?  Why are all of these people going out on a weeknight? Ugh!  Don’t they have to work tomorrow?  It’s after 9:00 for goodness sake!”

Me second thought after realizing it was Friday, and therefore perfectly acceptable to do such things past 9:00pm was “Wow. You’re getting old.  You should get out more.”  This thought was quickly forgotten as it was almost my bedtime.

My third thought?  Fear.  Absolute fear.  About what, you ask?  I’ll let you take a guess.  Better yet, maybe you can just answer yourself.  When it comes to your singleness, what’s the biggest fear that you have?  The biggest fear that most of us have?

That we’ll die alone, never having known the pursuit of a godly man.  Or even just a sane man with good credit, a solid career, and all of his teeth.

Continue reading this post on Modern Ruth Project…

10 Things I’ve Discovered While Homeschoolin’

Oh my.  It has officially been 1 month since we started our homeschoolin’ journey.  Some days are great and run like lard in a hot pan.  And some days are incredibly trying with me attempting not to lose my mind, patience, or my salvation.  Amen.

Regardless there are some things I’ve discovered in these last 4 weeks that hopefully will accomplish a few things: (1) allow others to understand more about the best decision I’ve ever made for myself and the Monkey (2) encourage others to consider which education options are best for your own little Monkeys, and (3) to remind myself to keep going on those days where I want to dangle her safely from a medium height balcony à la Michael Jackson.

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So back to this whole list thing.  I probably could’ve listed waaaay more than 10, but I feel like after 10 you all would probably stop reading.  So would I.  Plus 10 is a nice, round number.  And here we go:

1) Education is about developing, grooming, equipping, and celebrating each child’s uniqueness.  Not bending their abilities and talents to fit uniform standards.

And this applies to public, private, and homeschool.  Not one of you is safe.  I even find myself trying to fight the standards that others think she should be fitting into on a daily basis.  When it’s noon on a school day and we’re at the grocery store I get stopped by at least one person wondering why she’s not ‘in school.’  Correction.  She is.  And we’re learning about the nuances of nutrition, monetary transactions, counting, reading, social skills, and the importance of planning.  Things I wish I had learned in school, but was stuck to a desk for 8 hours in the day.  And, again, I turned out fine.  But being able to take school outside (literally and figuratively) has been amazing and shown me the strange and amazingly unique ways that my child thinks about herself and the world.

2) Spending this much time with your kid(s) makes you love and appreciate them so much more.

My kid is the best darn 5 year old on the planet.  No joke.  She’s funny, athletic, bossy, loving, and has an old soul.  She likes weird music like her mommy and her favorite song is Paradise City by Guns N Roses.  She doesn’t like to brush her teeth but understands how bad breath can hinder her social life.  She cries uncontrollably during sad parts in movies and is an empath at heart.  I knew these things prior to our homeschooling time, but not to the depth that I do now.

3) Spending this much time with your kid(s) makes you want to be by yourself more often.

I feel like this doesn’t need a blurb or an explanation.  See my post on Heaven in Duluth for more inspiration.  Or reference the Michael Jackson dangle.

4) Some homeschool days are the best ever.

I feel like superwoman.  Like I can conquer the world.  Or like Leo doing his happy strut.

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Like I can get the laundry, cooking, homeschooling, and work done at the same damn time.  And then…

5) …Some homeschool days are just plain bad.

She has a complete, nuclear meltdown about a broken brown crayon.  Or that I put her bracelets in the wrong jewelry box.  Or that we have raspberries instead of blueberries for lunch.  Or for no reason at all.  Like.  AT.  ALL.  These are all true stories, by the way.  Just in case you couldn’t tell.  Then there are the shining mother of the year moments where I snap about the complaints of “We’ve been doing this for 10 hours!!!”…when it’s only been 5 minutes.  Which leads me to number 6…

6) In Kid Time, 5 minutes is equivalent to 6 hours, 39 minutes, and 17 seconds.

So when I’m trucking along in math work, with my Leo Happy Strut, thinking things are peachy, and it’s been…21 minutes!…and she starts to whine.  I have to take a step back and realize that it’s just been an ETERNITY in KinderLand.

7)  Kids crave independence more than we give them credit for.

If I had a penny for every time she screams “Let me do it!” I could be homeschooling AND retired.  And if your kid is a human, I’m sure you hear this a lot, too.  But do you listen?  Do you actually let them do it?  Or do you try to pull a ninja “it’s already done” move before they notice their opportunity has passed?  Don’t feel guilty, sometimes that ninja move is necessary.  But every once in a while, let them actually do it.  As long as it won’t kill or maim them.  Notice I didn’t say hurt.  Because sometimes kids need to fall, bump, bruise, and pick themselves back up in order to learn their best.

8) Those cheesy homeschool planners that you can download from the internet are amazeballs.  Get one.

I mean, really.  Like most things I was skeptical.  I asked myself, “Do I really need to plan out each homeschool day?  I mean, let’s just go with the flow, dude.”

Yeah, no.  We went ‘with the flow’ for exactly 1 day before I caved.  The Flow was more like a muddy monsoon.  So I found a .pdf planner online, sent the print order to Staples, used a coupon because I’m cheap, and walked outta Staples with my homeschool planner and Leo Happy Strut.  And just to make it extra nerdy, I got it bound with the clear plastic front cover.  Like a BOSS.

Now, if a homeschool day is an epic fail, at least I know it wasn’t on the schedule.

9) Make time for community.

I hesitated with this one for a while, and for a few reasons.  First, I am unashamedly introverted.  Also, I had a lot of fear.  Fear that they would judge me for being a single mom.  Silly and unwarranted.  Fear that I would have to participate in small talk, that they would notice I wasn’t exactly participating, and it would make all interactions awkward.  This didn’t exactly happen.  Fear that I would forget every grown person’s name and resort to calling them “Such-and-Such’s Mom.”  This has happened.  Repeatedly.  I am sorry.

10)  Homeschooling has completely changed our home life.

I never thought I’d say this, but I realized it when explaining to another parent the benefits of homeschooling:  Since I’ve started homeschooling, we have more time.  When she was in 5 day-a-week daycare, I felt like we were always rushing and I was constantly stressed about working and trying to stretch what little time we had.

Clearly, we now have more time with each other.  But, overall, we just have more time.  Yes, I still work, but I work a little less.  And because I know that I only have two-ish days to get work done, I work more efficiently.  I don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.  I worry less about things that didn’t deserve my time in worrying about them anyway.  I’m more present, physically and mentally.  And I’m starting to take my dreams, my dreams for my daughter, and her dreams for herself more seriously.

Regardless of what your situation is, I urge you to consider how homeschooling might change your life.

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All the feels.  End sappy moment.

Until next time, keep hope alive my homeschooling friends.

– Such-and-Such’s Mom

What are some things/myths you all have discovered about homeschooling?