Sitting on the Fence

I have been thinking about this phrase for the past few days. I have wondered how it originated, and I still wonder if it is put into thought by many people. So, what does this mean to me? Why do I even bring up this subject? Do you ever think about your potential choices? Does all of this matter to you anyway?

As a little girl I knew that “sitting on the fence” meant I couldn’t make up my mind. I had two choices placed before me, and I didn’t know which way I should jump. As an adult I know that there are many times and opportunities for fence-sitting. But, I have learned that the longer I sit there, the more pain I endure. Is my procrastination a lack of courage, a lack of knowledge, or a lack of judgment? For me I believe it’s a combination of all three, yet my mind remembers the following words (for personal conviction)…

There are two prominent verses in the Bible that come to my mind as I ponder this phrase. The first verse is found in Revelation 3:15-16 which states, “I know what you are doing. I know you aren’t cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other! But you are lukewarm. You aren’t hold or cold. So I am going to spit you out of my mouth.” (NIrV) The second verse is found in Matthew 6:24 which says, “No one can serve two masters at the same time. He will hate one of them and love the other. Or he will be faithful to one and dislike the other. You can’t serve God and money at the same time.” (NIrV)

In my small view of the world I know that I cannot sit on the fence for too long. I become complacent and dull, and I lose the spark of life that drives me to pursue my dreams and ambitions. I become a “lukewarm” person to those around me. Just as a lukewarm bath does not refresh a person’s body, neither does a lukewarm person refresh another person’s soul. Also, sitting on the fence is a portrayal of ironic imbalance. The person will either choose both sides or none at all. Fence-sitting becomes a portrait of poor judgment or lack of courage.

My prayer today is that whoever reads this will find understanding and courage in their lives. First, I pray that you will understand your current situation and realize the potential circumstances that may cause an imbalance. Second, I pray that you (and me, too) will find the courage to make the correct choices to move forward. I know it is scary to make a decision and not know what the consequences will be. I have been there; in fact, I still experience the unknown frequently. Third, I pray that you (and me) will find peace with the decisions you make. There are so many options, and it can be overwhelming to second-guess yourself. The best way to know for sure is to trust your instincts, ask God for guidance, and hope for the best.

The more we jump off the fence and pursue a choice in life, the better we will become when we reach the next obstacle in need of a hurdle.


Home Grown Learning

It’s that time of year again… when the retailers fill up the aisles with tons and tons of school supplies! It’s a fun time to shop for sure! We all get so giddy when we stock up on new pencils, filler paper, crayons, notebooks, and all the other necessary things that make learning fun!

A key phrase is what I just said: make learning fun! Going to school to learn is supposed to be fun. Well, in our home, the first day of “going to school” is fun. The other 179 days are not so fun. Why does the novelty have to end? How can we make sure that our children enjoy learning without all the boring stuff of school?

Well, from my experience, I have witnessed that children learn the best when they are well-rested, well-fed, and filled to the brim with exciting things to do! Having a home with three boys is challenging, and when they were really little, I had to find things to keep those little hands and feet busy! Even little girls like to use their hands and feet for creative play, but I have noticed that they tend to follow momma’s footsteps and boss the boys around! So, I have to keep my little girl busy by listening to quality songs, reading books, and playing with baby dolls!

It’s so common these days to hear the dreaded phrase, “Mom, I’m bored!” Well, guess what, you are the only one who can change your attitude from boredom to a feeling of gratitude. This form of internal maturation takes many, many years to master. I know of several adults who claim to be bored, and they aren’t in school anymore!

So, what is true learning? Going to school does not guarantee that the children will learn. The process of learning always begins at home. If the parents become intentional in their duty as mom and dad, rather than just be a warm body in the same room that ignores the children, there are many opportunities for training the children to seek ways to escape boredom and truly learn.

Some of the things that we do in our home to encourage home-grown learning:
*turn off the TV or game system and read a quality book for 15 minutes
*ride your bike outside for a while
*play a board game (not a “bored” game)
*turn the living room upside with bed sheets, and make forts and tents
*imitate a teacher and play “school” with the stuffed animals
*help mom in the kitchen with baking or cooking
*wash the car with dad
*sort and fold the laundry
*play some trivia games or test each other with math flash cards
*sit around the family table and play “draw this!”
*look at old pictures in the family albums

There are many things that we try to do to incorporate creative learning. After all, learning should never be boring! If the children are getting bored in school, then they aren’t going to learn. It’s our job as parents to instill a love for learning through creative play, stretching our imaginations, and trying new things that will result in a potential interest for lifelong pursuits.



Okay, you are probably thinking, “What is she doing on a computer if she is talking about priorities?” Well, I have been thinking about what I could say, and the same word keeps popping up in my head: priorities. The notion of cataloging my life on paper seems to be overwhelming, scary, exciting, and yes, accountable to others!

As I review what I am learning on a daily basis, I realize that I must establish priorities in order to keep my life (and my sanity) in check. I need to make sure that I place limits on my time, my personal bubble space, and my environment. I need to stop the unrealistic expectations of “doing” things for the approval of others. I need to know that what I do, or do not do, is going to make my life a benefit to my “world”.

Here are a few things that I consider to be unshakable priorities:
1. My faith and daily walk in the Word
2. My family
3. My personal wellness
4. My testimony to those whose lives I reach

Maybe I could have a few more items on my list, but I know that simple could be better. It’s not always about going, doing, and moving. Sometimes it’s about regrouping, simplifying, and breathing. The early morning hours are my favorite moments where my world is quiet and still. It is the time that I use to walk, to pray, to read, to listen to the nature outside the four walls of my home. It is my time to regenerate my soul, my mind, and my love. If I become an empty vessel and do not take the time to replenish, I will become unable to meet the needs of those who depend on me.

Yes, priorities are important and should be viewed on a periodic basis to stay on track. Priorities help us to stay focused on the things that are important, and to discard the extra garbage that clutters our days. I hope that you will take a few moments to recognize your priorities and use them to make your life sweeter!


Losing my "Self"

I woke up this morning, and checked my email as usual. I came across a daily email I receive from Alpha Omega Publishers. The title of the email said, “You be the Judge.” Of course I took a few minutes to read through the article very quickly, but I slowed down and re-read one of the lines. Here is what it said:

“As Christians, the Bible also commands us to judge ourselves. To judge ourselves rightly, we must lose the total self-life that seeks only to please itself. Judging our actions and thoughts in light of God’s Word, we become Christ-conscious, not self-conscious.”

Those two words hit me right between the eyes: Christ-conscious and self-conscious. For so long I have known that I need to be ever mindful of how I walk and talk my faith. I need to live it out loud in every moment and in every opportunity. Yet, I manage to falter, and I have to be reminded to pick myself up and try again.

It’s not going to be easy, but I want to learn, and also truly live, the daily sacrifice of losing my “self” for a higher purpose. I need to let go of the things that “I” want, so I may be able to live for my ‘audience of one’… and it’s not me. It’s not about me. It’s all about Him… my God that I love.

I also want to let go of my self-esteem and replace it with Christ-esteem. I have never had a generous amount of self-esteem anyway, so why not lose it for something better? If my confidence is in Christ, and I want it to be, then I wouldn’t have to worry about self-esteem anymore. Remember, it’s not about me. It’s all about Him.

So, my thoughts for today have been transformed by one email, one word of encouragement. It’s a positive change, and it is ever-transforming. It will not be stagnant, and it will never die. It may turn into a small bundle of burning embers, but it will still be alive, waiting to ignite into another fire in my soul.

I am thankful for my faith. It helps me to realize that this life on earth is not about me. I can gladly step back and let God take the limelight. It all belongs to Him anyway.


Taking off my running shoes

I am not a runner by default. Don’t get me wrong; I love to exercise. But, I have never loved to run. I have found that I do better when I burn calories in a low-impact setting. Running on hard ground is a high-impact sport, and it can cause many issues with fragile joints.

As I realize the similarity between running for exercise and metaphorical running, I am learning to understand that I need to take off my running shoes. I am not talking about literal shoes, but I am talking about the choices I make that take me in the wrong direction. I need to take a different path.

I understand what Julia Roberts’ character, Maggie, was trying to explain when she handed her running shoes to the reporter, Ike Graham (played by Richard Gere). She was telling him that she didn’t want to run away from her conflicts anymore. It seemed awkward that someone would give someone else a set of icky, smelly, used running shoes. But, the point was made crystal clear in that one scene of Runaway Bride.

As I reflect on the things I have done or accomplished, I think about the times that I put on my running shoes to avoid the inevitable pain. Yet, in spite of steering clear of an upcoming speed bump, I ended up swerving into the wrong path that caused more pain down the road. I have also been the cause of unintentional injuries to another party through wounded feelings or bruised hearts.

I know how the old saying goes, “woulda, shoulda, coulda”… and I don’t want to spend too much time reflecting on the past. But, I am learning that I can take what I have experienced, and use the consequences to move forward with confidence, and I can face the future with a better foundation. The best part of learning is the mastery, and I believe that acknowledging the mistakes, believing in courage, and committing to consistency will help the chance of mastery in becoming the ultimate goal.


The American Dream

What is the American Dream? Is it the opportunity to buy a house? Is it the opportunity have a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job, weekends off, paid holidays, low-cost insurance, and two-weeks paid vacation? Is the opportunity to invest into a 401K, buy some savings bonds, buy a fancy car, and have all the modern appliances and technologically advanced products in the home? Is it owning a computer, and iPod, or the latest cell phone?

I am coming to grips with a reality that was once my American Dream. I grew up in a rental neighborhood, living on the “wrong side of the tracks”… literally. The train tracks that ran along Lincoln Avenue created a zip code barrier that would place my public education opportunity in the ghetto schools. Fortunately, I was able to transfer to a better district, but then I had to learn another lesson from the rich kids: how to keep up with the Jones’.

I swore to myself that I would not follow the path of my parents. I would not be greedy and spend on credit. I would save a portion of my income, and I would buy a house. I would live in a comfortable neighborhood, and I would have the American Dream. I have not lived up to all of my aspirations, though. At least, not yet.

To recount the first paragraph I have accomplished, bought, or owned all of the things I believed that would make me comfortable and happy. I was fortunate to buy a home in 1999 with my husband. I have been fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home-mom and raise my children (with the exception of the first two years of my firstborn). I have worked the Monday-through-Friday 9-to-5 job that offered paid vacations, sick days, holidays off, weekends off, low-cost health insurance, and a 401k plan. I even had the opportunity to buy two new cars (on credit, of course), and trade them in for something “bigger and better.”

So, where did all this affluence go? What has become of me? As I am sitting here, writing and pondering, I am not in sorrow. I smile at the future because of the hard lessons I am learning. I made some mistakes, I’ve made poor choices, and I’ve regretted a few decisions.

So here is where I am:
I can bake bread from scratch; I can sew my own clothes; I can make homemade laundry soap; I can read books instead of watch the electronic babysitter; I can teach my own children with a no-cost curriculum.

Things that I still need/want to learn:
To knit, to change the oil in my car, to cut my kids’ hair, to grow my own garden successfully, to raise chickens for meat and eggs, to learn to live without every modern invention in my possession.

Things I have learned to live without:
A microwave, a cell phone, a second car, cable television.

This may all seem weird, but all those things I have possessed or acquired have not made me any happier. The American Dream is a facade, a mirage of consumerism masked delightfully as happiness. I choose to take the narrow road. I now hope for a simpler life, one of which I can sit in my yard and count the stars. I can have a conversation with my children and not be interrupted by a telephone or a television. I dream of the chance to grow my own food, and be resourceful at every turn.

This is my life and my dream so far. What is your American Dream?

Marriage and Family

Making a Memory through a Road Trip

We just came home from a 1600 mile trip to Northern California. It was so fun to see all the extended family members, and the beautiful countryside added so much more to the memories! My children are glad to be home, but they will always remember the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the cloudy day at the beach (with the tan-burned skin), and the cousins and grand-aunt and grand-uncle they have met. I am learning that my life is about making memories and leaving a legacy. We cannot take our “stuff” with us when we die; we can only share in the joys and trials of everyday life with the people we connect to.

During the drive we would listen over and over to the soundtrack of Disney-Pixar’s “Cars”… there are so many relevant songs that help the long road trip seem shorter and merrier. One of the lines in the songs say, “You may not see the silver lining, but there’s a great big sky waiting right behind the clouds.” How true are those words… and how the lyrics have impacted my life. So many days feel like the world is crumbling around my little life… like getting a kidney stone attack at midnight, or my daughter vomiting several times due to heat stroke from the beach day.

Over all, I will remember the time I spent with my kids. I will remember sharing the last peanut butter sandwich, little hands grabbing the last kernel from one bag of popcorn, munching on chewing gum as we climbed up the Grapevine, sleeping like sardines on a queen-size air mattress, and getting all those hugs and kisses.

Who wouldn’t want to remember these good times?