Passionate Re-Centering

I have so many passionate friends. It is a wonderful mix to my life. Friends who are involved in so many diverse things. Friends who disagree.


I have watched a lot of passion play out in FaceBook conversations over the last few months. My friends think about issues, articulate their viewpoints, and are passionate about issues.


I simply don’t talk about politics on FaceBook. I have a hard enough time thinking through the issues, and the passion of FaceBook gets away from me. It becomes too much too quickly…and the articulate discussions seem to become too emotional before we know it.


I am finding more and more that i simply have to quiet the media. There are so many things happening which can simply completely overwhelm. The latest, with the killing of the priest in his church…what do we even say to that evil?


It is so easy to be completely overwhelmed. When we are overwhelmed our emotions spill over, and our desire for hope…for something to lock on to that will bring an end to the suffering and the craziness…is at a peak. We are so eager for leaders who will bring real solutions.


Sometimes we think we have found those leaders, and sometimes within my group of friends there is strong disagreement about which leaders will bring chaos and which will bring peace. We look for something, and we see different things.


I think we have to have grace for one another in this season. We have to give some space to work through what it is we want in leaders, and what is the truth about those who offer their leadership. We have to be able to dialog, but to do so with some measure of compassion and understanding. That is not always something we can do online in quips on FaceBook and Twitter.


So what can we an do online? Share some hope and some stories of people who acted with integrity and with courage and with strength. Sometimes when the passion is a little too loud for me, I turn to these stories, and although they are all familiar, I thought they might bring some peace to you as well…


Irena Sendler was a young Jewish woman who rescued 2,500 Jewish children during the Holocaust. She eventually was arrested, and yet did not give up the names of any who had assisted her, or of the children. Even though they broke her feet and her legs.



Dobri Dobrev, the now 101 year old man in Bulgaria. He used to walk 15 miles a day to beg for money, although now he rides the bus. He lives on a minimal amount and gives away the rest to orphanages to help pay their bills.




Delaney Brown, a little 8 year old girl with Leukmia. She wished to hear carolers on Christmas, and with some help from Make-A-Wish, people rose to the occasion. They made her wish come true, just a few days before Delaney passed away.



Sergeant Gebhart. This Sergeant’s picture went viral a few years ago. He was serving in Iraq and would go in the hospital to see how he could help. This little girl’s family was killed by insurgents, who thought they had killed her as well. When she was restless, Gebhart would go in and hold her and she would calm down. He would continue to hold her as she slept.



How about this. In the midst of all the turmoil in Syria, there is a group rescuing books.

In a sense the library gave me back my life… just like the body needs food, the soul needs books

Go read this article.




How about some amazement from Creation?


Thor’s Well



Emerald Lakes, New Zealand



Hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey…



The Danxia Landform in China:



How about this one to end with….the story of the lighthouse keeper. Have you seen this picture before?


Here’s the story..


So, there ya go. My solution to the days passionate political discussions. It is not that I want to ignore the discussions; I am listening to them and I pay attention especially to those friends I respect. The difficulty comes when friends I respect deeply are passionately on opposite sides of issues. That is the challenge. That is where we have to have grace.


Sometimes a pause is necessary, and hopefully some of these stories helped recenter you, as they did me. Sometimes we need to remember the remarkable people around us, and in our history. Sometimes we need to step back and look at the wonder around us. Then we are poised to re-engage with life and all its passions.


Homeschool Inspiration

Even though it is stinky hot here in Tennessee today, my mind is all about starting school. Our summer has been full with camps and mission trips, road trips and my trip to Vancouver. Somehow August has snuck up and is knocking on the door.


We are about to begin our fifth year of homeschool. Every year I feel like a rookie. I look over my curriculum for each child, it is easy to become overwhelmed. It is easy to feel like there are so many choices…and yet I find myself simplifying a little more each year. Especially for the younger kids.


We have been involved in a couple tutorials here in Nashville from the first year. My younger two, grades Kindergarten and 5th Grade, go to one while the older boys attend a more academically challenging tutorial beginning in 7th grade. This has been such a blessing; it gives them the opportunity one day a week to attend classes, interact with classmates and receive some wonderful teaching. They are able to participate in Labs at the a local college’s science department. They are able to participate in drama and musicals, they have dances and band performances…all the things you might think a homeschool kid would miss out on.


There are such vibrant homeschool communities now, there are a multitude of options for how to structure your approach!


I have in the past offered some suggestions here for websites that are helpful. A caution, though, if you are just beginning the homeschool adventure: It is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of material out there. Find something you connect with and dig deep there, and find some folks you can connect with to dialog and share the journey with. You don’t have to examine every curriculum available…sometimes you just have to pick one and go for it. You may change after a year or two as you begin to find your rhythm, but your kids will be learning. Give yourself the room to experiment some.


With that said, here are some of the past articles:

Last year

Three years ago, when we were really rookies!


So, a new year and some new inspiration!!



This site can be a bit overwhelming, as there is just so much information, but  is a great place to start. Use the tabs and find a spot to start, then grab a coffee and spend some time clicking around!


Creekside Learning is another one that can be a little overwhelming, but it offers so much. Again, grab a cup of coffee and explore.


You are probably familiar with The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Did you know she homeschooled? She hasn’t updated the homeschool part of her blog in a year, but if you are new to homeschool, or if you have never read her blog, it is worth reading. Some great encouragement there.


The Growing Home blog is written by someone who was home schooled and now homeschools her kids. She approaches structure in a more relaxed way, not quite unschooling, but “eclectic.” The blog is well organized and you can find a section for Dads as well!


The Story Warren is not a homeschool site…but it is such a rich site for inspiration and imagination. This is a definite site to visit when you are feeling in need of some well written thoughts on childhood, creativity, imagination…and a great spot to discover some new favorite books.


Sarah Janisse Brown was homeschooled and now not only homeschools her family, but has developed a fantastic line of books. She refers to her approach as funschooling or momschooling. Sarah has a blog worth following, and check out the books. Some great journals for kids, and a line of books for dyslexic needs.



I find myself needing to take a deep breath,  grab a cup of coffee and spend some time just reading through some of these sites. Taking in the ideas, and thinking of ways to refine what we have done in the past year. The kids are getting old enough to voice their opinions on our structure or lack of structure, and have begun directing their own time in accomplishing tasks.


Every year is a learning process. Every year is filled with that excitement of the beginning of the year, and with the moments of lag where it is difficult to stir the imagination and inspiration. We need to have these sites marked which encourage us and which give us focus and the creativity we need to continue on the homeschool adventure.


So, this a post that is just calling out for comments. List some of the sites you go to often for inspiration. Feel free to list sites about curriculum and what has worked for you. I’m always on the lookout for some new insights!




Words Which Benefit

I already felt frumpy, slightly pudgy, and entirely lacking in fashion.

“Your hair is just going to be like this. I mean, you should consider coloring the grey because it is just not attractive. And it doesn’t matter how I cut it, it is just going to stick out and be like this. I mean, I can try, but there is just so much I can do with it.”




I probably should have just said thanks and left at that point, however I had two kids getting haircuts at the same moment. And having a much better time of it, I might add.  So, I let her continue and give me a pretty awful haircut. I’m still waiting for it to grow out so I can go somewhere else…to someone who might have a bit more compassionate view of this mop. I walked out feeling more frumpy, more inadequate.


The flippant words of this young hair stylist ruined my mood for the day. They weren’t necessarily meant to, and that actually amplifies their weight. There was no awareness that words so demeaning might impact me.


We have grown flippant with words which have great impact. A casual word which can change another’s mood for the whole day.


Sometimes, we are intentional with words, desiring to create chaos and pain. Reading through the comments section on so many news articles and FaceBook threads brings this to harsh light.


There is much to bring fear in these moments of life. There are many who feed on that fear and rejoice in spreading news with headlines inspired to capitalize on our emotions. Every election season seems to be marked by these dividing lines and comments slung back and forth between the factions. Those words are not flippant…they are carefully chosen for full impact.


Flippant or intentional, we contribute to the chaos, or we bring peace.


Our words have impact. They matter.


My flippant words about people I think less of, people I easily categorize and dismiss. I toss my words about, creating an image for my kids, creating a narrative. These people are beneath us. These people are not worth respecting.


The person who irritates me on the road: “Idiot.”  The person who does not live up to my ‘standards’: “Can you believe they did that?”  The person who sets their hopes on someone I disagree with: “How can anyone vote for that person?” “How can anyone think that way?” “Only an idiot would buy into that argument.”


The fear is speaking. Label the news, label the other people, label…whatever…and it makes it less fear-filled. Label something and we can toss it aside, we can disagree with it, we can disregard.


We are called to more, though.


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:29-32


Only speak that which is helpful for building others up. Only speak that which may benefit those who listen.


Be kind and compassionate.


We sure could use some compassion and kindness in our communication.


What if we were not flippant, but we were intentional to bring kindness to our conversation. What if we truly strove to speak in a way that benefited those who were listening. Even those who were simply over-hearing. Like the kids in the house as they hear my ongoing commentary on life.


What if we spoke to bring beauty and peace, and if we could not bring that…we remained silent.


We can still challenge, we can still confront. Remember that other verse from Ephesians 4?

 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. – Ephesians 4;15


Speaking the truth….in love.


Maybe some of that is simply recognizing that much of the hateful speech and much of the intent to hurt springs from fear. Maybe we are so wrapped up in the stories that legitimately rock our world, that we don’t know how else to respond but to shout and hit back with words. We end up striking one another, instead of striking the fear or the cause of fear. We end up isolating ourselves more and stirring the fear within us.


What if…we pause and try to find hope, try to find some wonder around us, and speak of that? What if we continue to speak truth, but we speak it in a way that spreads calm, spreads peace?
What if instead of igniting the fear, we remind ourselves and others that we belong to a deeper reality? What if we remind ourselves and others that we believe there is a God who is in the midst and is working. What if we give testimony of the moments we have seen His hand in the midst of the chaos, instead of continually repeating the hate and the chaos?


What if we realized those shouting the loudest speak from a place of pain and of fear, and we might have the answer for them? We might have the words that tell them of healing and of hope? I know it is easy to be caught up in the arguments and to dismiss those on the other side of the divide. It is far easier to not love…to simply remain aloof.


“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”  – Bonhoeffer


Because to love means we will be impacted, and it will hurt.


“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis


Still, life is so much fuller when we love. When we love instead of label, there is a grace released.


We are in the midst of this broken world together, and yet we are able to bring a different perspective. To open other’s eyes to the wonder around us, and to bring an awareness of the deeper reality of God’s presence in our midst. We are able to bring hope.


We do not ignore the suffering, or the fear, or the chaos…we jump into the midst of it and watch as God moves in the midst.


We try, right? Today. In the comments on FaceBook and in what we share. In our words around the kitchen with the kids listening. In our conversations…we try. Try to speak words which benefit, words which heal, words which bring calm.


We might need to seek the wonder some before we engage the conversations. We might need to pause first before we jump online, remind ourselves that we are image bearers of a compassionate and loving God, a God who seeks to save.


We might need to take a breath before we speak and remember that we are all in the midst of this fragile life, and we are all impacted by the grief of children dying in war, of innocent people dying in moments of terror. We are all carrying the weight of the brokenness of this world, and we need to give one another grace in how that impacts us.


There is still wonder, though. Find some beauty today. Speak some peace. Pray for those who shout against you. Take a breath and turn off o the flow of news when it overwhelms you.  Read something that brings you hope and fills you, so that you can speak that hope to others.


Maybe just telling someone they are beautiful, they are valuable…when they are feeling frumpy and inadequate…it could change everything for that person for that moment.


“My lovely shining fragile broken house is filled with flowers and founded on a rock.” – Madeleine Le’Engle



Red-Eye Reflections

I honestly don’t know if I have ever flown all the way across the country on a red-eye.

Seattle to Philadelphia. It is almost 10:30pm and the lights of Seattle are just fading behind us. Almost five hours ahead. This is a slow process…I know, much quicker than the road trip we just completely…still, a slow process without  the interruption of changing flights and rushing through the airport. 

I like it, I like the hours to process the week that just completed. I am thankful for some uninterrupted time to read a little and to reflect.

I have a tendency to rush. I have a tendency want to move on to the next responsibility or appointment or adventure before the last has had time to settle. Seasons of quiet are always a challenge for me.

I learned something at the end of the week at Regent College that surprised me, something I wasn’t  expecting:

 I learned that poetry makes us slow down. 

The last evening in Vancouver I was able to attend a poetry reading by Luci Shaw and Malcom Guite. I already shared the other day insights I gleaned from Malcolm’s lecture, but this was different.

This was two friends sharing their stories and their hearts through these words they are able to weave with lyrical ingenuity, capturing our attention and our imaginations. Both Luci and Malcolm took us into the woods, took us into doctor’s examination  rooms, took us into their love of poetry itself, and took us into the presence of God.


Luci mentioned that poets are God’s gift to the world, and although she said it with a smirk and twinkle in her eye, she spoke the truth.

The poet and the artist are God’s gift to us. They force us to look differently at the mundane and ordinary around us. They force us to listen, through changing the rhythm of our words and drawing out the lyrical rhyme, they catch our ear and slow us down. They open our eyes to look in a new way, using light and color and shadows. They catch our attention, and they make us pause.

I know that I need this. I know that I get caught up in finding the solution, in analyzing and critiquing. The week was spent thinking seriously about Colossians, and that was good. My brain was enlivened and my thinking sparked….but I needed to finish on this note of pause. 

Friday night Luci and Malcolm, and a group of listeners in Vancouver, slowed and listened. The poets interrupted the normal rhythm of a busy week with words gathered to inspire, to enlarge and in the same moment to connect us with one another. 

Suddenly we saw pebbles on the beach and weeds beside the road as holy things. We were witness to their friendship as they laughed and even more as their countenance shone as they spoke of how and why they write, and of those poets they love. 


If you have never read Luci Shaw, well, you need to. This is not poetry that inspires fear as we try to understand. This is poetry that connects and gives words to the feelings we recognize. This is poetry made for enlarging our vision, for opening our eyes. This is poetry that reminds us matter matters; that the ordinary things of the world are holy.
Oh, but you think you don’t like poetry or aren’t able to understand? How about this?

Peeling The Onion

There’s not much I don’t know about you – 

yellow, red, sweet—grubbed up roots and all.

Essential for a vigorous cuisine, alerting

the sense—the crackle of your paper brown outer

skin, your translucent inner sheaths like

vegetable undergarments, your pungent heat

rising from sharp steel and cutting board

to my blurred eyes, your precise circles against

the wood, before the sizzle in the buttered pan.

Reluctant to relinquish our intimacy

your sharp essence clings to my fingers, like

a reputation. Hours later, in the dark, you season

the air around my hands, I’ll stud you with

stars of cloves to bury in the belly of the bird

before roasting. Or nestle your pearls

with a stalk of mint among the green peas.

If I leave you too long in the pantry, your

patience exhausted, attenuated, soft at the center,

you send up green spears through the mesh bag

that call out chop me, make a salad, I am delicious.

How do I interpret my own

layered membranes, like growth rings?

I try to peel away the layers of my

onion heart, never getting all the way in.

Pause.  Listen well and pay attention. Listen for the rhyme and the lyrical reminders to pause. Don’t rush….find some poetry and listen. Even about the most mundane activities of life….peeling an onion. 
Another? How about this from Malcolm:

Holding and Letting Go

We have a call to live, and oh

A common call to die.

I watched you and my father go

To bid a friend goodbye.

I watched you hold my father’s hand,

How could it not be so?

The gentleness of holding on

Helps in letting go.

For when we feel our frailty

How can we not respond?

And each to hold another’s hand

And feel the common bond?

For then we touch the heights above

And every depth below,

We touch the very quick of love;

Holding and letting go.

I’ve made it across the country. Thankful for a quiet, long flight. Thankful for the forced pause. Back to rushing a bit now, catching the final flight home, but doing so with a brighter eye and a heart full of inspiration.