PHANEROO \fan-er-o-oo\Greek: to manifest in word or deed.

Monday, February 15, 2016

It Occurred to Me

It occurred to me that after I homeschool five children all the way through high school, I myself will have completed K-12 on five separate occasions. This would qualify me for five high school diplomas (not counting the one I already have from my youth). I may just re-take the ACT and SAT when I'm done homeschooling. I should pretty much score perfectly and then walk right into Yale or Harvard or anywhere I'd like to go.

It also occurred to me that I have now successfully taught four children how to read. Charlotte learned to read before she turned five. It's not due to my superior teaching skills. She's just an enthusiastic learner. Even today while she was sick with a fever, she insisted that I do school work beside her on the couch so she could read and practice math skills. I hope she never loses that love!

And then it occurred to me that I have been teaching for six years. I think that means I've now earned tenure and they can't fire me.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nana's Cabin

Back in early September, BJ's mom (whom the kids called Nana) passed away after a five-year courageous fight against cancer. She was only 60 years old. She was truly inspirational the way she faced her terminal illness, how she pushed herself onward every day despite horrible side effects of endless chemo therapies. She refused pain relief drugs because she didn't like taking medications. Although many of us would have sought any form of relief that we could get, she dealt with the discomforts and pains of her illness and treatments without complaint. She would never allow any focus to be upon her, nor would she allow any pity. She was one tough lady who fought until the last moment of her life here on earth. We are sad to be missing her, especially during the holidays, but we are relieved knowing that she is resting, completely free of disease and pain, with Jesus. It makes losing her to cancer a little easier to bear knowing that she is no longer suffering.

Nana has left us with a lot of great memories and a home full of very special treasures that reflect her personality, her appreciation for simplicity, and her pleasure for being surrounded by the familiar, the unique, and the memorable. Her home is a combination of a late-1800s log cabin combined with a more modern log cabin designed to blend the old and the new. She had a great eye for how to meld the two concepts while retaining special features of the antique architecture of the historic cabin. Her home sits on approximately 3 acres in a small cove surrounded by trees, a creek, fruit trees, and sunny garden spots. The kids have always enjoyed our visits to Nana's house. It's a special place.

I was recently told about how Nana drafted a layout of the old cabin and her ideas for the new additions on the back of a brown paper bag. And that's the draft she took to city hall to request a building permit. From that draft, she began work and basically she was the general contractor over the entire building project. She asked friends and family, folks whom she loved and trusted, to do the work that she was unable to do. Every cabinet in the kitchen and bathrooms were custom built by a friend who created the cabinets from a pile of lumber. In this day-and-age, when most get their cabinets from big box retailers (Lowe's and Home Depot), she wanted to be surrounded by craftsmanship by people she knew and cared about. Many elements of the home reflect that love and care for detail. She also took great pains to salvage as much as possible. She was recycling building materials before it was the cool thing to do. She also appreciated the local arts and crafts that the area offers. Her home is full of those types of treasures. For instance, she has 4 cane-bottomed chairs which were hand-caned by the Walker sisters. In addition, she has many handmade pottery pieces, wooden bowl and utensil sets, handwoven baskets, and original pieces of art. In some aspects you feel like you've stepped back in time, but then again you get the incredible comforts of modernity when you fix a meal in the family-size, gourmet kitchen or relax on the over-sized, plush sofa beside the 8-foot-wide stack stone fireplace.

Another favorite tidbit that I enjoyed hearing was how Nana selected the three screened doors that are on her back porch. She had become aware of an old home nearby that was dilapidated and was in line to be demolished. Nana visited the home at one time and remembered how the screened doors there had that perfect squeak from years of use, which also reminded her of the sound of her grandmother's screened doors. So before the old house was demo'd, she retrieved the three doors, hardware included, and incorporated them into her own screened-in back porch. The squeak is still in tact. There are many antique pieces of furniture scattered throughout her house with similar stories - rescued from old homes, salvaged from renovated inns, or acquired from closed-down businesses.

Nana was a creative and industrious woman. Her handmade quilts are treasures. Her canned goods from her own garden are still being enjoyed by our family. Her ideas for how to create a special, warm and welcoming home is a wonderful legacy that she leaves behind. We are blessed to be able to enjoy the labors of her love when we spend time at her home. Here are some photos, most of which do not do any justice to how special this place is, but it's fun to share so others might see and appreciate.

Front view of cabin. The section of cabin with the stone chimney is the two-story historic 1800's cabin. The section on the front with the blue arched window and the section on the left with the shed roof porch are the newer additions. 
Back view of cabin.

View of the screened porch with one of the salvaged "squeaky" doors. Large river rocks serve as steps to the porch.
Old corn crib that houses gardening supplies, and a little fenced garden spot to deter deer, rabbits, and black bears.
The spring house which now serves as the pump house for the well.
View of the small cabin which is used mainly for tool storage and extra building supplies.
Back view of the small cabin and a creek that runs along the property.
Inside the newer addition looking toward the historic cabin with the exposed hand-hewn timbers.
Just a portion of the lovely modern dine-in kitchen.
View of the original stack-stone fireplace in the historic cabin.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What Foster Parents Wish Others Knew

I happened upon an article entitled "What Foster Parents Wish Others Knew," and many of the points rang true for our family. We have encountered similar questions, comments, and sentiments. So I edited the article a little bit for our circumstances and wanted to share it here:

Foster Parents are not “special” or “saints” but are ordinary people. We are doing this because it needs doing. Many do it because the Lord expects it from His followers: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). Some foster parents expand families this way, some do it for the pleasure of caring for a child, and some are compelled by the children of family or friends needing care. But all foster parents are the blessed ones – to care for precious children. The truth is the world needs more ordinary, human foster (and adoptive) parents.

Foster kids are not “fake kids,” and we are not babysitters. How children come into a family is not the point. While he is here he is our real son, he is our children’s brother. We love him entirely, treat him the way we do all our kids, and would never, ever forget him if he left.

Please be careful what you say around the kids (biological, adopted, and foster). Everyone is curious about the new baby in our home, and their excitement leads to lots of questions. Sometimes those questions are better asked when children are not present, such as: “Is the mom an addict?” or “Where’s his mom?” or “Do your kids like him?” We are truthful – yet careful – how we handle sensitive information with our children, and all our children love one another deeply. Just like you wouldn’t let someone talk “smack” about your mom or your brother, we are protective that way too.

Some questions should never be asked of foster parents. Some questions are hurtful, such as: “Doesn’t he have family who will take him?” or “What if the mom gets him back?” Those types of questions hurt, and honestly, foster parents don’t know the answers to speculation any more than you do. It seems that those questions are meant to stir up a reaction, and that’s not helpful considering all the raw emotions foster parents already have to deal with. In addition, many questions are private and foster parents aren’t allowed to reveal certain details.

Don’t hate on his parents. Birth and Foster parents often work really hard to have positive relationships with each other, so it doesn’t help to say ugly things about them. In fact, foster parents can have a sincere love and care toward the birth parents.

We don’t get paid. We don’t get government aid for being caretakers. Some foster parents can get a portion of the child’s expenses reimbursed, and that money is only for the child and does not cover everything.

When you say, “I could never do that,” it is hurtful. Letting kids go – and facing the reality that it might happen in our home – is really hard, but someone has to do it. It doesn’t make foster parents heartless or insensitive that they are able to endure it. Just because something is hard doesn’t make it bad, and no one is heartless for enduring pain for the greater good of their children. Any regular parent would put their children’s interests ahead of their own.

No, it’s not “official” yet. Lots of variables are at stake. The court system and government agencies are involved. This is a complicated process. It can take a long time. However, our hearts already feel “official,” and we are Mom and Dad regardless of a court order.

Everyone struggles sometimes. All parents struggle with parenting, but all parents deal with it no matter what. Saying or implying, “I told you so,” is never helpful. Yes, we knew that could happen. That doesn’t make it any easier.

Yes, we need help. Treat foster parents with a new placement the way you would a family that had a new baby – it is just as exciting! And of course, it is just as demanding, exhausting, and stressful. Most importantly, when you support foster families, you are showing compassion for orphans even if you are not able to foster or adopt.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Other Things We've Been Doing

Back in January, Lily, Schaeffer, and Griffin started violin lessons and Charlotte began ballet lessons at Concord Performing Arts Academy (CPAA), which is a Christ-centered performing arts company that meets at First Baptist Concord. They've really enjoyed the experience! Everyone recently had a recital or concert to perform. I'm a very proud momma!

Charlotte and the dance company were backstage getting ready for their performances for the Spring Recital. 

Charlotte is on the back row on the left. The little girls in Charlotte's dance class did a sweet performance to a children's praise song, "We Can Praise the Lord."
Lily, Schaeffer and Griffin warming up before going on stage for the Civil War Sesquicentennial Peace Jubilee.

Two little Civil War era kids running around the World's Fair grounds. 

Getting ready to jam!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Words of Comfort

These Words of the Lord have been a major comfort to me in the past few months. One day I hope to share openly about why these particular verses are so meaningful to me. But I can say that God is good all the time in every circumstance of our lives!

"Jesus said, 'Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak'" (Matt. 26:41). Watch and pray! Never give into the temptation that defeat is at hand. The Lord fights spiritual battles in the spiritual realm with His powerful armies for His own glory. When things look bleak, the Lord is still at work on His ultimate plan.

"He will guard the feet of His faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness for not by might shall a man prevail" (1 Samuel 2:9). Do not fight with might, instead fight on your knees in prayer. Trust that the Lord's purposes will prevail.

"Lord, you have made sure that children and infants praise you" (Matt. 21:16). The Lord will work out His purpose and He will be praised.

"When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Proverbs 16:7). Do not be concerned with what others may think. Be obedient and let the Lord work out the heart matters of others.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love Hurts: Lessons I've Learned in Love

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:12-13

In life I’ve learned tough lessons about love – more specifically, love for the unlovable. Loving my husband, my children, and friends who love me back is an easy task. It’s a natural response. I have learned that true love – the love that comes from the Lord - is a wonderful, marvelous thing that overcomes a multitude of wrongs. I have also learned that when we demonstrate love the way Jesus wants us to, it usually doesn’t look or feel the way we want it to.

Here are some hard lessons I’ve learned about true love:

True love may not be reciprocated. We can love someone with all our hearts and never feel love in return. But is it true love if we expect something in return?

True love may appear as naivety. When we show love despite the circumstances, we may feel used, deceived, or naive. But is it true love if we withhold grace and mercy in the most desperate of times?

True love may hurt. When we open our hearts to love someone, the end result may not be happily ever after. But is it true love if we are seeking personal happiness?

True love may feel vulnerable. To love someone means we have to put down our guard, be authentic to build a relationship, and lay aside time and energy that we will never get back. But is it true love if we aren’t willing to lay down our lives?

Demonstrating true love can be a great joy when we look to the Giver of Love, Jesus Christ, and trust in His goodness. Here are some Truths about true love that offer hope and joy:

We can offer true love because it was first offered to us when we didn’t deserve it. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).

True love can endure hardship and distress because we have been given eternal hope and joy through salvation in Christ. I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul (Psalm 31:7).

There is a great reward for showing true love even to our enemies. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them (Luke 6:32).

We do not have to rely on our own strength and determination to demonstrate true love. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).

Around the same time that I was reflecting on the hardships of true love, my husband read to me an excerpt from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest:
Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket – to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served? Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?

I believe this is the same with true love. True love does not seek attention, reward, recognition, nor anything in return. In fact, we should expect the same results that Jesus received when He demonstrated His love: persecution, humiliation, denial, and rejection. Love hurts, but it also never fails.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nature Therapy

Here's the ultimate in nature therapy and a great destination. If only the Smokies could offer a place like this.