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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preaching To The Choir

Convention season is starting soon! I normally LOVE homeschool conventions and can't wait to go. This year though I find myself second guessing whether or not I'll go. Usually it's a no brainer...I GO! This year the one closest to me has one of my very favorite speakers. At first I was SO excited and was sure I'd go. I have yet to mail in my payment and registration form though. Why? Well...

I totally agree with most everything this speaker regularly speaks on and have a great deal of respect for him. He is one of the few speakers I get totally excited over and feel like shouting AMEN to several of his famous one liners. I have noticed the great majority of the audience does the same and we all get fired up. I've also noticed though that several squirm in their seats. I have seen talk of him on several popular homeschool message boards and have come to understand the discomfort many have with him and others like him.

It would be easy to say that they are feeling convicted in their sin and that is what is making them uncomfortable. That may be true for some, but I am not too sure. While I do believe most of what he and others like him speak is the truth, what good is the truth when you are only preaching to the choir so to speak? Those of us in agreement with him get all excited and riled up and more convinced than ever that we are on the right path, but we already believed that BEFORE we walked in to the conference. What about those who may NEED to hear what he says, but whose ears are going to be closed because of the delivery of the message?

Those who need to hear the truth in a loving way are going to be turned off to it because of the delivery. It's one thing to be convicted on something, but sometimes there is a fine line between expressing that conviction and arrogance. I have to repent here myself and say that I am afraid there have been times I have allowed my own personal convictions to turn to arrogance. A feeling of superiority that I am doing things the "right" way and therefore those who aren't doing things just like me have it all wrong and are wretched, horrible sinners. Okay, slight exaggeration, but shamefully I have suffered from feelings of superiority and pride in areas of my life.

Sadly many considering homeschooling may never begin because they go expecting to learn something about this still somewhat unfamiliar to many alternative in education and end up in a room full of people all excited and raving how this particular way is the ONLY way to do it and any other way is wrong and perhaps even sinful.

I don't know, see, I'd rather be speaking and reaching to those that are searching, than those that already agree 100% with me. First, I think we who homeschool for religious reasons need to remember that not everyone interested in homeschooling is doing so for religious reasons. I wasn't when I started. I wasn't even a practicing Christian when I started. It was homeschooling that helped lead me back on that path. I think if I had been hit over the head with what I see and hear from many prominent so called homeschool "leaders" I may have run FAR the other way and not even considered homeschooling and as a result may not be a Christian today.

It's like that in many areas of Christian life, whether it be the preaching in churches to those already saved rather than hitting the streets or jungles to those who have never heard the Word. Christian films that have great messages that even unbelievers could appreciate, UNTIL the sappy preachieness becomes so overwhelming and obvious that those who aren't already part of the choir shouting "AMEN" get up and leave.

Don't get me wrong, there is a definite place for Christian films, good preaching and powerful homeschool messages. I happen to be a fan of all of the above, but I recently am starting to wonder if in too many of these areas those in leadership should be trying to reach out to those who really need the message rather than continue to the back patting, ego stroking choir.

I know I rush out and buy or download most of the big conference speakers talks as they become available, and all the latest Christian films, and I LOVE them, but I am not so sure many of my family or friends would feel the same. I do believe we should boldly speak the truth, but that bold truth must also be spoken in love or it's only going to be spoken to deaf ears or of course those who already agree with you.

One thing that really got me thinking about all of this and it's relation to homeschooling is the movie "Waiting for Superman" which I will share about a little later. Great film, but I think I got something a little different out of it than most.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Looking Back

I am feeling rather nostalgic today thinking back on my son leaving a year ago for boot camp. That combined with the fact that one of my oldest and dearest friends own son is leaving for boot camp this May.

As I think back on my own experience and in trying to prepare her what to expect, a few major(at least to me) things pop in my mind. I am sure I have shared many if not all of these things at one time or another on here(with each year that passes, so does a bit more of my already failing memory) but I want to share them again in hopes they may help someone who is getting ready to go through the experience of a loved one leaving for military service.

First and foremost, I truly believe my biggest support through our whole boot camp experience was Navy For Moms. I HIGHLY recommend any mother, wife or loved one of a future or current Sailor take a visit there and sign up for the group or groups related to your expected needs(boot camp group, A School group, etc..) Having the support of those who had already gone through the experience as well as the bonds made with others currently going through it with you make a HUGE difference. I knew what to expect and when, from the first letters, to the dreaded "box" of your loved ones items they left home in and more. Thanks to letters shared by other mothers and wives from their Recruits I knew how things were going even when I didn't get my expected letter one week. A year later and many of those ladies are still my friends on Facebook and other social networks. Our loved ones are now stationed in different places all over the globe, yet we women still share that bond of having gone through the boot camp experience together.

One thing many loved ones want to know is what kind of gift to give the recruit before they leave. Honestly, if it wont fit in their wallet, they shouldn't bring it, because it WILL get sent home! Many learn this the hard way. Even stationary items will be sent home. The best gift you can give is a phone card, already activated, stamps, and LOTS of letters while they are in boot camp. I was so sad to learn how many young men didn't get letters. I wrote my son daily, sometimes more than once a day. I sent Facebook status updates, photos of friends, thoughts I had friends write before he left and I held on to and other items of interest.

A year later and my son still often comments on how much mail he received. Those letters from home really help them get through the whole experience. Even if it's not your own family member going through boot camp, WRITE and write OFTEN! Church members wrote, friends, other family, and I can assure you each and every letter was saved by my son and still cherished.

Which leads me to my next thought. The nicest thing I think anybody has ever done for me! Before my son left a friend sent me a keepsake box:

Filled with many boxes of cards, stamps and writing instruments:

We not only used these to write many of our letters, but in turn have used it to store his letters to us as well as other small Navy related items he has sent home or left here:

I still often go through these letters . Some bring a tear, some bring a smile, but all remind me of this last year and the growing all of us as a family have gone through, through this experience.

I loved and appreciated this thoughtful gift more than words can express, and I plan on stealing this idea for my dear friend whose son is leaving soon(my best ideas are my "borrowed" ones!)

Our church has a quilt ministry. Several of the ladies make quilts for those who are ill or going through tough times. On the quilt are SEVERAL threads, and we as a church pray for the person receiving the quilts and then tie a knot for each prayer. There is no magic per say in the quilt or the knots, the magic is in the prayers, but the knots show the person how much they are cared for and how many prayers are being said on their behalf. I think that is pretty magic!

Our church also has made "pocket" quilts for our brave young men and women serving our country. One was given to my son prior to leaving for Boot Camp, and was able to fit in his wallet, making it so he can keep it at boot camp.

While those brave young men and women who willingly choose to serve our country, especially in these times when we are already at war deserve our utmost respect and gratitude, let us not forget the moms and wives who are at home holding things up on the home front. The young wives especially who are doing the hard work of perhaps raising young children and running a household alone could sure use some extra help and support. Parenting and marriage is hard enough under ideal circumstances, but can seem especially overwhelming when you are worried about your better half serving and protecting our country.

If you know such a young lady, offer to watch her children for an afternoon giving her some much deserved rest or make a meal or two occasionally. Anything special to lighten her load and lift her spirits.

Of course us moms missing our child can use a smile or word of encouragement as well. We all feel an overwhelming sense of pride in our young service member, but we also miss our children dearly. For our family, it's one year of service down, and four to go, more if he decides this is his career path. It gets easier over time, but never "easy."

A Year ago Today

Today marks the one year anniversary of my son starting his Navy career. A year ago today I left him at the recruiters station and spent the next several months locking myself in the bathroom crying. I was and am so happy and proud of him, but the mom in me had a hard time letting go, and the no contact for those first few weeks was nearly unbearable.

It's been a long year in many ways, and in others it seems like just yesterday that I left him there in that parking lot and said good-bye.

Most of this first year has been training for him, first bootcamp, then "A School" for his Hospital Corpsman training, followed by yet more training with the Marines this time for his Field Medical Training Battalion (FMTB) Training. So he didn't actually arrive at his first non-training duty station until this past December. He is at a small Marine base, and for the most part enjoys it. We are so incredibly blessed that he is only a few hours from home now and we get to see him at least once a month if not more often.

Overall the Navy (and the Marines he serves with!) have been very good to and for him. I am confident he made the right decision for himself and couldn't be more proud!

The night of graduating boot camp

Arriving home after bootcamp and A School

After his training with the Marines