A new Educator just moved in….

I tell you what, homeschooling is NOT for the faint of heart.

In fact, the first month of December (and even on into January), I was asking myself, “WHO in their RIGHT MIND, would DO this?!?”

(I’m obviously not in my right mind, especially attempting it with three younger ones to keep occupied while “school” is happening).

I felt like a steam engine that has to keep plowing through chaos (think tornadoes, blizzards, and hurricanes) while tugging four, no make that, five little train cars behind it.

YOU JUST RUN OUT OF STEAM EVENTUALLY.

And it usually doesn’t look pretty….

for me it comes in the form of yelling at the kids, many tears on my part (and their’s) and a constant complaining spirit (on my part and theirs).

So, we had to hit the drawing board again with this whole endeavor, and do some serious seeking of God’s face to rescue a)me, and my quickly-sinking-into-depression heart, b)this whole educational endeavor, and c)my son’s disgust for “school” due to the drudgery of it all.

As I camped out out in my room praying, journaling, and homeschool-blog-searching (the kids were quite occupied with (and relieved by!) room-play, a.k.a. Legos, imagination, bunk bed adventures) The Holy Spirit started convicting me of the ways I had declared my homeschooling agenda and asked God to get on board with it by helping it all to run smoothly.

You can either humble yourself or BE humbled.

And asking God to get on board with your agenda is not exactly the humble approach, and in His grace, He humbles his children to shake them out of their foolish self-reliance and prideful endeavors.

It just hurts sometimes.

BUT, it is so worth it in the end.

Because, once I realized that instead of saying “God, I’ve gotta homeschool our kids so that they can get a good education, know your Word, and be protected from the many agendas out there, so could you please help me do this?” and instead  started saying,

“God, could YOU educate our children, and give them a Holy-Spirit filled love for your Word, and give them a firm foundation in your ways, and cause them to learn all they need to know? Just use me as you see fit to accomplish YOUR agenda for them.”

Then peace started to enter our home again.

And the Accuser-of-the-brethren voices that told me I never got enough accomplished, and that I needed to run a better schedule so that everything happened like clock work, and that my kids were way behind everyone else, and I’m just ruining my children, and so-and-so could homeschool 7 kids and keep a perfectly organized house, so why can’t you handle just 4 kids…those voices…I had an answer for them. And my answer that I have to repeat in my mind (and even out loud sometimes) was that the God who created these little people, HE is the one teaching them, so if “nothing was good enough”, you’d have to take it up with HIM.  Because He is Lord.  And HE’s in control of how much has gotten done today. And if He can run an entire universe, He sure enough can run our home and our little Iverson Academy.  I’m just his servant. I work for Him. So the burden is off me. And I am carrying an easy and light yoke, that my Savior teaches me to carry.

To abide. To listen. To obey the little promptings. To love. to cherish. To delight in.

And if geography doesn’t happen today and the laundry didn’t get folded, I don’t have to go balistic on my kids trying to drag them into more productivity.  God’s got it. And maybe He has a great geography lesson that will unfold tomorrow. But for today, I obeyed, and I guided the little sheep entrusted to me.  And that’s good enough.

I’m so thankful that a new Educator has moved in.

And so are my kids.

From the Mouths of Babes…Katy-Grace

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This child, that brings so much joy and yet, also so much angst (the things she thinks to get into!) is fully in the talking world. And with her little high pitched words, some comments can melt my heart when it has been so frustrated by her actions.

Like when she so cheerfully says,

“OK, Mommy!!!” on the fifth time I’ve asked her to do something.

or when she says,

“I’m weally sorry, Mommy!”

when she’s squeezed out all the toothpaste, or spilled her drink, or clogged the toilet with an entire roll of toilet paper.

or when she declares,

“Look, Mommy, I a mommy, Mommy!!”

while trying to help me mop by dumping two more inches of water on the floors.

or when she climbs up on my lap and says

“I love you, Mommy!”

sigh.

This world of talking has definitely softened some of the “blows” she brings me in daily life. And her chatty little self will endear her to anyone,

even when she just pushed your kid over.

Christmas Riches, Almost Missed…

This year we had every excuse in the book not to do it.

We had tons of family coming into town for the holidays.

We already would have a full house.

I’m pregnant (and tired!) with baby #5.

We have four little rascals running around.

We already have one international student living with us.

Money’s tight, more mouths to feed might be an issue.

I even blogged to promote the ministry.

Surely, it just wouldn’t work this year. “I’ll just recruit others to do it.” I thought.

But as we took our gaze OFF of our own little world’s circumstances, and looked at the call of our Savior to invite the stranger in (Matt. 25:35), we knew we were called to, once again, walk that line of faith. To put ourselves in a a place to be a watchman on the walls.

OK, Lord, if we’re going to do this, you have got to give me the energy.

I called up the area coordinator and told him we were willing to host up to two students (our other housemate, a seminary student would be out of town for the holidays and said we could us his room).  “Oh, good, he immediately said, I’ve got two Saudi Arabian young men who I’ve been trying to find a place for!”

Gulp.

OK, Lord. Here we go.

But oh, what joy, what riches, the Lord was trying to bless us with through this call to obedience!

So on Dec. 20th, Danny drove to the airport and picked up “James”*.  He came back and joined our family chaos of having a gingerbread making contest amongst Danny’s siblings and their kids.

That evening while eating dinner, we tried to explain to “James” that we would be going to a prayer meeting that night because Danny is a pastor of a church.

“Church? Pastor? I don’t know what those are.  We do not have those in my country.” he said.

We had a great discussion trying to explain to him what a pastor is, what a church is, and what we believe as Christians. The only thing he said he knew about Christians is that they “have to get wet.” (baptism)

Prayer meeting went well, and he seemed so intrigued by all we did and studied. A whole new world was opening up to him.

Then, that night, quiet “John”* arrived, and as I observed his trendy clothes and his cornrowed hair, I felt like we were hosting a Newark youth again.

Thursday and Friday they were off doing touristy things with the whole group, but in the evenings we enjoyed talking with them and playing board games with them and Danny’s siblings. Saturday they attended the “Christmas conference” portion of their trip and came home, each with a Bible in hand, excited to practice their English by reading it.  “Oh, Lord, make it come alive to them.” my heart throbbed.

I felt guilty feeding them quickly and ushering them out the door again to another “Church thing”, attending a Christmas Eve candlelight service at Sara and Eric’s church, but they seemed up for anything.  We tried to explain to them that many different churches believe the same thing, but worship in different ways, and the one that they would be attending this night would be a more formal church. It was encouraging to watch them try to sing along in the hymnbook our classic Christmas carols, triumphing the coming of Christ.

Since, actual Christmas day, we would be at our Korean church all day, we decided to surprise the kids after the Christmas Eve service with all the presents and stockings set out.  I dashed home with my sister-in-law and Danny went with the kids and “James” and “John” to McDonald’s for $1 ice cream cones.  I quickly got everything set up and awaited their arrival.

Our kids (AND James and John) were surprised and ecstatic when they walked in with everything set up. We took our traditional stair photo, sang “Joy to the World”, and started the stocking openings.  James and John were so surprised when I showed them where their stockings were. And then as we each took turns opening presents, they were thrilled when they had different things to opened. (One of which was a Jesus Film, in Arabic). Christmas is so often enjoyed by parents as they watch the wonder and excitement of the children, and this year we had two extra “kids” who were equally filled with surprise, excitement, and wonder.  It was simply so much fun. (It was also so fun to see bright smiles spread across John’s quiet, reserved face, as he opened his own presents and watched our kids be thrilled over theirs)

James kept saying, “This is my BEST Christmas.  This is my first Christmas and it will always be my best Christmas in my memory.”

I couldn’t help but pray, that his Christmases will get even better, not because of gifts to open, and children squealing in excitement, but because he has opened the best Gift of all, his Savior and Sustainer of his life.

A little past midnight, after the kids had finally settled down and everyone was in bed, Danny went down to check on the guys and say goodnight. John was curled up on his bed watching something on his computer. It was the Jesus film we had given him.

Lord, work through it, Danny prayed.

The next morning was an early morning of ushering children and James and John out the door again for more church services. I almost felt bad for them…they didn’t know what they were getting into when they stayed with us. But they seemed eager to observe and listen to their new friend, Danny, preach of the prophecies of Christ and their fulfillment in Christmas.  Then we had Sunday School, and John was missing. I found him wandering around the property, my heart sank. “We have probably offended him…doing so much “Christian” stuff.” I thought. I asked him if he would like to join us or if he was too tired. (we had so many late nights that week!) He said “No, I want to come, I didn’t know where you were.” “Oh,” I sighed with relief.

Boy, was I glad he came.  Danny told us to look up Matthew 6 and we just read two verses and then watched Tim Keller’s “Gospel in Life” video about work.  John’s eyes did not leave the page after we read those verses. I kept glancing at him as he read and read. The VERY FIRST time he had ever read the Bible for himself.

The guys went home with relatives, because we had to stick around for more responsibilities (have I mentioned that Korean’s are hard-core and take their Sabbath day very seriously…all day events…we, flimsy Americans with our “express services” have a thing or two to learn from them, anyways…”

When we got home around 5pm we found that James had taken a much needed nap, but John had finished watching the rest of the Jesus film.

He had a ton of questions at Christmas dinner. He had many questions that he couldn’t quite articulate so we used James(whose English was better) and our trusty Google Translate to be able to address his questions. One of the first ones was, “That book that we read at church today. Can I get one of them? I would like to read it more.”

“That book” just happened to be the Holy Inspired Word of God. “That book” happened to have words of truth, and hope and salvation, that in all of John’s 19 years of life, he had never even known existed.

And here’s the cool part.  Earlier that week I was researching sharing Christ with Muslims and stumbled upon a ministry website that would send an Arabic Bible for free. I asked if I could get it before Christmas, and they said there was probably no chance it would arrive in time.  Christmas Eve it arrived.  When Danny and I opened it (and some Arabic literature/tracts), we asked Jesus who needed it the most, but we just set it aside to pray about it more.

Here was our answer.

After Danny fetched the Bible we talked for about an hour answering questions like “Who killed Jesus?” “Why did they kill him?” “Did he really come back to life?” “Can God live in my spirit too?”. James, wasn’t asking as many questions, but was still eager to be involved in the conversation, so I asked him what different things said on the tracts (they were in Arabic and I couldn’t read them).  Here he was explaining God’s word to me.  I commended him on how well he translated it, and he said “Maybe I could be a pastor too one day!”  Oh, Lord, may he!!!

The whole experience, and the curiosity and hunger to learn was all so thrilling and exciting to be a part of, I couldn’t imagine if we had tried to “protect” our family time by not hosting these two great guys. What riches we would have been missed out on. What amazing privileges would have been passed up. What new friendships would never have formed.

Our kids cried on Wednesday morning when the guys left, and they still talk about missing James and John.

And we daily cry out to God, that his Spirit of truth, will guide them into all truth. (John 16:13)

For, simply being very feebly-available, has led to deep friendship and love for our Saudi Arabian guests, and we long for them to know not only the surface riches of Christmas, but the real riches of Christmas in Christ,

that

Christmas riches, almost missed by us,

would become

Christmas riches,

embraced by them.

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Pictures of our guests have been removed for their privacy and protection.

*real names not used because of their Muslim faith which prohibits them from celebrating Christmas, investigating Christianity, and owning and reading a Bible. We don’t want to put our new friends at risk in any way.

Christmas Riches, Almost Missed…(explanation)

My Christmas Riches, Almost Missed… post had to be taken down due to protecting our new friends (they can get in SERIOUS trouble for owning a Bible, etc.) Hopefully, I’ll be able to edit it soon so that their names and faces can be protected….stay updated.