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2017 Resolution: To Be, or Not to Be

2017 Resolution: To Be, or Not to Be

It’s that time of year, time to recommit to the things you de-committed to about 51 weeks ago!

Resolutions at the first of the year are a tradition going back between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago, from the Romans to the Babylonians. Most are built around health and habits. Here are some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Lose Weight
  • Get Organized
  • Spend Less/Save More
  • Live Life to the Fullest
  • Staying Fit and Healthy
  • Quit Smoking
  • Help Others in Their Dreams
  • Fall in Love
  • Spend More Time with Family

Do you ever notice how most, if not all these resolutions revolve around you and I doing something? The problem with that? We’re human beings, not human doings!

The beginning of Shakespeare’s famous soliloquy from Act III, Scene I of Hamlet allows us to move New Year’s resolutions from a state of doing to a state of being. “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” I imagine that if he had written, “To do, or not to do,” it would not have the same impact.

Doing is relatively easy. It’s either yes or no, do or don’t. You lose weight or you don’t. You meet the deadline or you don’t. You win the race or you don’t. Doing brings victory or defeat. It’s an outside process.

Being, however, is an inside process. Being allows you to experience victory and defeat, and then choose how you want to respond. It’s a shift in your soul, a turnaround in your thinking.

Doing causes a reaction. Being creates a response.

From a spiritual perspective, the shift from doing to being frees you from checklists that chain you to consequences (doing) and allows your identity in Christ (being) to define the response you give to any situation. Being allows you to be fed from the Spirit rather than feeding the flesh.

Ephesians 4:20-32 shows the struggle of human doing vs. human being. Specifically, verse 23 says that you should, “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” (NLT). The Amplified Version says that you should, “discard…your previous manner of life…and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Notice that there’s no command to “do” in the flesh, but rather, to “let” and “be.” This sounds like the opposite of the striving to be Christlike mentality that we’ve all been taught!

Being in Christ brings freedom. You are in Christ. God never intended to make your life (the flesh) Christlike. He intended for His son to manifest His life in you and through you. (Galatians 2:20-21, NLT)

Freedom in Christ is not a life long struggle. Galatians 5:1 says, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” (NLT)

So, in the simplest of terms: Doing = Law; Being = Freedom.

As you look at your resolution list this first week of the year, may you resolve to be in Christ, and as Christ is in you, the Spirit will guide you to the things that will glorify Him.

Picture courtesy of ThinkWells Thoughts

Silent Night

Silent Night

December 16, 2:45 AM…the bedroom door opens and my daughter is now standing at the foot of the bed. “Dad, someone’s on the front porch and I just heard them outside my window.” My daughter’s bedroom is at the front of the house and our bedroom is at the back. I asked her if she was sure and she said, “Yes, it sounded like they were rummaging around and I heard footsteps outside my window.”

It was a calm, still night, so I dismissed the idea that it might be the fallen leaves being blown about by the wind. I grabbed my phone and went to the living room where I could peek out the front window and get a good look at the front porch. Nothing seemed amiss, but my daughter isn’t one to exaggerate, and given our proximity to a major road, I just didn’t want to take any chances. So, at 2:47 AM, I placed the 911 call. Cool, calm, and collected came the female voice when the call connected. “What’s the address of your emergency?” she asked. I give her the location and then she asked what was going on. I relayed to her what my daughter had experienced. “We’ll send a car over now. Do you want the officer to contact you?” “Only if they find someone,” I said. And with that, the conversation was over.

Heading back into the bedroom, I found my side of the bed occupied. My daughter is brave and strong, but this had her rattled. I let her and my wife know that the police were on their way and to try and relax. I went back into the living room, peeking out again. A few minutes went by and the darkness was broken by the spotlight from the patrol car. Relief. Peace. A slow drive by and away they went into the night, to protect and to serve.

Back in the bedroom I asked my daughter and wife if they had seen the spotlight. “Yes!” Came the reply. My daughter scooted over and I climbed in (thank you king size bed!). I expected her to be with us all night, but a few minutes later, she’s crawling out and headed back to her room. “Are you okay to go back?” I asked. “I’m good,” she uttered, her voice not as shaky as it was when she woke me up.

As I was coming down from the adrenaline rush of the events and wondering if sleep was going to elude me the rest of the night, the last line of the Christmas standard, “Silent Night” came to mind, “Sleep in Heavenly Peace.” I thought about that and who that line is meant for. Mary and Joseph? The shepherds? No!  It’s meant for you and me. The message of the angels? “Fear not! Christ the Lord is born this day!” Peace entered the world at that moment, but it wasn’t fully brought to bear until three words were uttered, “It is finished!”

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. Ephesians 2:14 (NLT)

True peace. Lasting peace. Peace that comes only from Christ. Peace for you and me. I drifted off to sleep, safe and secure in the knowledge that my family is at peace because of what Christ brought to the earth, no matter what is happening on our front porch.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

A Pretty Rough Week

A Pretty Rough Week

Last fall I somehow ended up on a parent email list for a 3rd grade elementary class at a nearby public school which shall remain nameless. I’ve requested to be taken off the list a number of times, but that hasn’t happened. So once a week, I receive a note from a teacher who doesn’t teach my kids (For the record, I have a 5th grader and a freshman). Notes like the one I received a few days ago remind me again why my wife and I home school. Here’s the full text of the email. It was entitled, “A Pretty Rough Week.”

Hello 3rd Grade Families, I wanted to let you know that our class has had a pretty rough week in regards to behavior. The students lost their recess last Friday due to the fact that they were not following the lunch aides directions to line up quietly for lunch. Although the students have been doing much better in the lunch line, they continue to get poor reports during specials, and are still having trouble lining up and walking quietly through campus. During Music, P.E., and Library this week the students have been in trouble for not following directions, talking while the teacher is talking, and moving around the classrooms without permission. Although this is not every student in my class, it is many of them. I have talked with my class many times since spring break about working together to be the best class we can be. Many students lost stickers from their specials teachers this week (which is not a normal occurrence). I know the weather is changing and the students are very excited and energetic, but I would greatly appreciate it if you could sit down and remind them of their role as a student at SCHOOL NAME LEFT OUT. I know we can make this a great quarter if we all work together 🙂 Please feel free to email or call me if you have any further questions or concerns. THANK YOU!

Wow! Did that take any of you back to your 3rd grade class? There are so many items in here to talk about, but I want to quickly discuss just one. Near the end of the note, the teacher references the weather and her excited and energetic students. Then she asks for the parents help in calming them down and for the parents to, “remind them of their role as a student…” Their role as a student?!?! In other words, your kid has ants in his (or her) pants and I can’t get them to cooperate! Do something! This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Public schools want kids to behave like compliant worker bees in a factory, doing tasks according to the school schedule, not moving without permission, and for goodness sakes – don’t disrupt the learning environment by being excited and energetic! Parents, as you head into this week, remember why you home school, and when your students are excited and energetic this week, don’t make them lose their recess and make sure they don’t cut in the lunch line!

Transitions

Transitions

I want to say Thank You! to Homeschool Mosaics for giving me the opportunity to share some thoughts each month. This month, I’m going to share with you why we started home schooling and some of the transitions we’ve encountered through the years. My goal is to provide encouragement to you and your family as you continue on your home education journey.

My wife Carrie and I were married in 1992. We have two great kids. Ryan is 16 and Ashleigh is 12. We’ve also experienced two miscarriages and two ectopic pregnancies. We make our home at an elevation of 7,143 feet in the cool pine and aspen trees of northern Arizona, near Flagstaff. We get about 100 inches of snow on average and rarely does it get above 90 degrees in the summer.

The word transition is defined as: a passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another; or change. As I write this, I’m sitting in Marlow, Oklahoma, 780 miles away from our home. We were just here a few weeks ago for Christmas. We’re back for one of the greatest transitions in life – a funeral. My wife’s grandfather, Carl McMullin, passed away. He was 91 and a veteran of WWII. He was awarded six bronze stars while he served with the 3rd Army under General George Patton in Europe. This transition has been a while in the making, with his health declining over the last few years.

Transitioning to home schooling wasn’t on our radar when our son started kindergarten. Both my wife and I are the product of public schools in Texas in the 70’s and 80’s. Our son had an amazing teacher in kindergarten. Ryan couldn’t wait to go to school everyday. Mr. Thomas took a genuine interest in him and we experienced a fantastic year. First grade started great! Another wonderful teacher and what looked to be another good year. A few weeks into the year, Ryan’s teacher developed some major health issues, and as a result, only taught about 6 weeks. The rest of the year was taught by five different teachers, each lasting about six weeks. His second grade year Ryan had a teacher who was one of those who should have retired a long time ago. It was a frustrating time. We were at the school, helping out, being good active parents, doing what we were supposed to do, but it just wasn’t working. Little did we know that the transition to home schooling had begun.

My wife came around before I did to the idea of home educating Ryan. We found out that his third grade teacher was going to be an individual known for espousing liberal beliefs in a very vocal way, and neither of us wanted that for Ryan. The transition for me was abrupt and took place on a Saturday morning the summer between Ryan’s second and third grade year. Some friends of ours had been home educating their children and the father had a very pointed conversation with me in our driveway while we were having a garage sale. I don’t remember the exact details of the conversation, but I do know that we decided that weekend to home school

With just a few weeks before “school started,” Carrie and I were scrambling to figure out what to do. We talked to a few folks, did some research, and decided to go the “home school in a box/DVD” route, because it seemed like something we could handle and the price was right. Our transition to this new way of thinking and living allowed us to experience every available emotion known to man! We had many successes and many failures, and you know what? We survived! No long term damage to our son. No long term damage to my wife. No long term damage to me. We decided in the spring that this route (home school in a box) wasn’t one that was going to work long term. So we started another transition period…and that’s when it happened…we were introduced to…THE HOME SCHOOL CONVENTION!

Our first home school convention was in Phoenix. This transition was probably the most overwhelming to us as we weren’t prepared for the amount of curriculum choices available. We went from our little box of books and DVD’s that UPS dropped off at our house to a literal warehouse of every type of curriculum available. We were overwhelmed. What was the best? What worked for this family? What worked for that family? How would we know what would work for our family? Carrie and I split up and we each found a math curriculum we KNEW would be the best for our son! Then came the english curriculum! Then the science curriculum! Then there were the history videos! So many choices! So much money!

We were a mess. Carrie and I didn’t know what to do. We wanted to make the RIGHT decision, but how could we be sure? Looking back now, we couldn’t be sure of anything! So we stuck with our original curriculum game plan, added a few pieces we thought would help, and dove into the school year. We thought this was the BEST decision. We had starts and stops, ups and downs, but generally we had a decent year. We were still newbies and weren’t sure if what we were doing was working, but our son seemed to be getting it, and he was progressing, so we were happy.

One thing we didn’t do was panic. Panic causes wildly unthinking behavior and rash decisions. We found our local home school support group and we had more and more friends who were making the same choices we were about education. That was comforting, but it didn’t mean that we were in lockstep with them either. This led to another transition…creating our own path. Carrie and I found what worked for our kids, and we followed that route. We were informed by decisions of our friends, but not influenced by them.

In 2012, I had an opportunity to transition in the business world and I created My Home School Grades, which has become the premier online scheduling, grade tracking, and transcript software for home school families. Since then, I’ve been able to listen to and speak with many home school families around the world. I’ve met veteran home schoolers, some who are a few years in, some who have just started, and some who don’t even have kids yet! I have been able to see families in transition throughout all of these stages.

The one common aspect that all of these families have in common is that at some point, about some item or issue (usually many at the same time), they are scared and frightened. Fear overcomes them and they tend to make decisions because they panic (see definition above). I want to encourage you today that when the transitions come and fear creeps in and you start to question every decision you have ever made…know that you are not alone.

Here’s what Carrie and I do (warning – this is not easy!). We make the BEST decision in the moment. We take the facts we have right now and we make the best decision we can. Many times it will turn out to be the RIGHT decision. Some times it may not. “But John, What if this happens? What if that happens?” We can’t predict every outcome, nor should we try. Make the BEST decision right now, and then adjust as time goes on. Otherwise you will be paralyzed by fear, and that never leads to good outcomes.

No matter what stage of home educating you are in, know that transitions will occur! Embrace them! You won’t have babies around forever. Your kids will learn their times tables. They will succeed. They will fail. You’ll have great days and not so great days. Your kids will grow up. They will get married, they will probably give you grandchildren, and then you can drag out the box of curriculum you’ve been storing in the garage all these years. Then you can encourage the next generation as they transition through life.

Questions to Ask…

Questions to Ask…

A mentor of mine encouraged me to constantly ask myself the following questions. They have been valuable to me and I hope they are valuable to you. Here they are:

  • Who am I around?
  • What are they doing to me?
  • What have they got me reading?
  • What have they got me saying?
  • Where do they have me going?
  • What do they have me thinking?
  • What do they have me becoming? (This is the most important question!)

Then ask yourself the question behind these questions: “Is that okay?”