Tuesday, August 23, 2016

CLEP Co-op

This fall, I started a little CLEP Co-op.
In the past few years, I have seen my children work so hard. In fact, they worked harder than I ever did in college. They worked about as hard as I did when I was studying for the CPA exam. I started to question why we work so hard through high school. What is the purpose? What are we trying to accomplish? 

The last year my children went through the program, I really lost them to studying hours. They wanted to study through the weekend. They did everything they could to get caught up. My husband had been questioning me, “What are we doing this for?” We found that almost everyone was working towards college prep. They were prepping for college entrance exams and prepping so they would be strong in their foundation when they went to college.
A few years ago, I heard a preacher, Voddie Baucham, really challenge the idea of waiting to start college until college age. He proposed a radical idea to have children potentially graduate from high school and college at the same time. There is a mother in our hometown, Linda Newsam, who inspired me because she taught her kids college level classes and let them CLEP out of them. She was able to get them 18-20 hours before they graduated high school.
From the moment I started homeschooling, my eyes had been set on this. When Voddie Baucham spoke, it really shook me up, and I decided I was going to reach for this goal, as hard and as stretching as it may be because it’s unfamiliar territory.
Pioneers are people who do unfamiliar things and knock down doors trying to figure it out. Lots of people try to come in on the toes of pioneers, giving them ideas and telling them how to change things and make it different. But they aren’t the ones who plowed out the ground. They just got to go on the road that was paved ahead of them. It looks easy to them. It seems simple, so it’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to look in and say how you would change things. But you are not the pioneer. Sometimes you just need to be thankful for the ground ahead of you. I’m thankful to Linda. I’m thankful to Voddie.
My goodness! We are five to six weeks into our program, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with where we are, even if we were only doing it with my two children. We have a very small little co-op. I kept it small on purpose, with grace-filled mothers leading these children. I wanted to have a place to fail and an easy place to land. I didn’t want everyone’s slams, criticisms, and opinions floating through, in and out, and not giving us the grace to breathe, to move and change and make our way.
I can’t even tell you. No one’s passed an exam yet. We don’t have any successes. But I can tell you what we do have. We have children who are learning and loving. We have children who are being stretched beyond their imagination. They are learning to work hard but with a different purpose. They are doing things that would seem virtually impossible.
Right now, kids are analyzing and interpreting literature. What I have seen it do is create our children’s ability to think critically. Every leader on the planet needs to be able to think critically. They need to be able to look at something and get inside someone’s head and make proper assumptions. “What do you think they meant by this when they said it?”

I think we generally make assumptions about what people say or what we read based on email, text, or on Facebook. We make assumptions based on feelings and not based on, “Let’s get in their head. Let’s know the author of this well. Let’s really concentrate on where you think they were coming from on this.” That is what our children are learning. That is going to make them tremendous leaders in the future. I am pumped and excited.
We want you to know we are opening the doors to allow a few more students in. We are going to be cautious about who we invite and allow in because you’re going to have to have the grace to allow everyone to fail.
One thing I want to note is that whether our children pass or fail the CLEP exams, I don’t care because quitting would be the real failure. Failing isn’t missing the mark on the exam. Failing is never trying. Failing is not pushing your limits and finding your boundaries and finding where you can grow up. I just want to let you know we are pushing our kids to learn to fail and not to be afraid of failure. Our number one problem in America is that people are afraid of failing so they never try. They don’t realize that not trying is the failure.
May our kids press on and press through and fail often in Jesus’ name.

Monday, August 22, 2016

No Condemnation, yet Condemned

It’s almost impossible not to live in condemnation when the world is constantly evaluating you, correcting you, and telling you how to be better. There is a sense you need to be perfect. How many people do you know who would say, “Well, I thought you were a Christian,” because they expect that once you become a Christian, you become perfect? 

That’s not actually true. Once you become a Christian, your weaknesses are made perfect in His perfection. It means, “Hey, I’m not perfect, so I need someone to complete me.” It doesn’t mean, “I’m perfect. I’m holier than thou. I’m righteous.” It means, “I need someone’s righteousness and perfection to fill up my gap. I was a zero. I need someone to make me one hundred.” I think some people view Christians like, “Oh, well, you don’t drink, smoke, or chew, so you must be holding yourself out as perfect, trying to show me how perfect you are and judging me in the process.”
I think we need to be careful not to put people into the law, and instead we need to keep them in grace, because the law makes people want to break it. But grace makes people want to celebrate and live in freedom. How can our kids not think there is such an expectation from God to be perfect if we are constantly expecting it? When they fail, every time, they keep condemnation on themselves because they think we expect them to be perfect. 

What about your boss? I know I do this: “Can you do this with more excellence? Can you do this better? Do this with excellence as if you are serving the Lord.” But where is the work coming from? Is it coming from their heart? Is it coming as if they’re serving the Lord? Maybe it’s not perfect, maybe it’s not exactly as you wanted, but if their heart is right, that is what should matter. But our world doesn’t do this. We live in such a different age. It’s like, “Your heart was right, but your work sucks, so you’re fired.” That isn’t reflecting the love of God.

We have all these leadership talks, and I would personally put them all and say, “Let’s start being the hands and feet of Christ.” If people are quick to obey, if they give their all, if their heart is steadfast on the Lord, and if He is their master and not man, then they are worthy of their keep. They are worth keeping. They are worth investing in. You cannot replace that easily. You can always find somebody who wants to work a bit harder because their identity is in what they do.

But how can we, as men, be condemning when the Bible says there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus? It’s so confusing.
For one week, let us challenge ourselves to offer no condemnation but only encouragement. Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage each other daily for as long as it is today so that your hearts may not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Let’s encourage one another and not condemn for one week. I would love to hear what happens with your family.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Afraid of Failure?

Why are we so afraid of failure?

We learn from failure. 
We gain in strength after we fail. 

The formal definition of failure is: lack of success; an unsuccessful person, enterprise, or thing; or the omission of expected or required action.


The origin of failure came from 'nonoccurrence,' which I equate to QUITTING. 

Dont quit. 
Never quit. 

One failure doesnt make YOU a failure.

It doesn’t define you—unless you allow it to do so.

Don’t let LABELS stick to you!

They cannot stick unless you agree with them. Don’t agree with them.

REJECT the labels!

You are larger than your failure!

In fact, you must fail to grow.

You must fail in order to find your limits so you can SOAR past them!

You are successful because you DO NOT QUIT.

You are a fighter!
You are strong!

You are stronger than your appetite!

You are stronger than the temptations!

You might miss a few marks before you figure out that you’ve GOT this.

Its ALREADY in you!

You are just getting the opportunity to pull it out of you!

So what if you fail again?

Just dust yourself off and keep moving forward.

Dont spend any time in the past because it will hold you back.  

If youre NOT FAILING, you’re NOT TRYING. 

Take a look at this chart I found on how much the usage of 'failure' has increased over the years.

… for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again (Proverbs 24:16 NIV)

Rise again! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

3 Types of Struggles

There are three types of people when they are in the midst of struggling. The first are those who struggle in the public eye. The second are those who struggle all alone. The third are those who struggle amongst their inner circle.
The first are those who tell everyone every detail of what is going on with their life. They can appear to be dramatic. One day they are great, and the next day they are awful. So every person who can peek into their world sees their roller coaster of a life, moment by moment, from day to day.
I have witnessed some people going through trials and tough circumstances in the public eye. They have asked people to pray for life or for their loved one. I have actually heard people who knew of their circumstances pray death over their loved ones—that they would be comforted and it would go quickly. They didn’t actually listen to the heart of their loved one. They listened to their own understanding. That is a con of living in the public eye. 
The pro of this is everyone knows what you are going through and they can throw resources, food, or anything else you need in your direction. They know what is going on, so if you actually lose a battle, you don’t have to explain what was happening behind the scenes that no one knew anything about. They are able to pity you or empathize with you. They are also able to pray with you and pray over you.
When I was pregnant in 2000, I had not told many people yet because my little sister had gotten pregnant at the exact same time. Because this was my second child, I really didn’t want to upstage her. I really wanted her to enjoy the attention of having a baby. So I only told a handful of people. I hadn’t made it public yet. When I miscarried at twelve weeks, right around the time when I was going to make it public, no one knew I had been pregnant. So I didn’t have a crowd of people gather around me to grieve with me; no one understood what I was going through. They couldn’t have empathy or pity, and there was no help.
Second, for the people who are struggling all alone—no one knows their circumstance. They have told no one. It’s all internal. The roller coaster is still happening, but no one has seen it. It’s not outwardly expressed. It is completely inward. No one knows about it. No one knows how you are doing. Outwardly, you look amazing.
These people are so susceptible to suicide because no one knows how they are doing. When I was a teenager going through abuse at home, I didn’t tell my mom. I didn’t tell a single friend. I was too ashamed. Every day was like a mask. There was not a single person who knew what was truly going on in my life. I am positive that the drama I had with all of my friends stemmed from drama at home with my stepdad—and they had no idea.
It’s when you are struggling all alone and there is no one to give you a hand and lift you out that your thoughts become increasingly negative to an extreme perspective, where the negativity can make you take your own life.
I cannot think of a single pro to struggling all alone. I can’t think of one.
Third, those who struggle within their inner circle—these are people who aren’t really in the public eye. They don’t tell anyone and everyone. They may share it with some stranger because they may feel their story or testimony can encourage someone. But other than that, they really have a close few who they share it with.
I think I generally fall into this category. I’ve witnessed so many people struggle in the public eye. I’ve witnessed so many people die because they have struggled on their own. For me, I have people in my life who I know will stand firm and fight for me. They will speak boldly to me and speak truth into me. I have known them and respected them long enough to receive it. I know they will be a source of encouragement. I know I can reach out to them at any time, in weakness or in strength, and they will never shame me or discourage me in any way. They hold my feet steady on a rock. 

I am so very grateful to those who hold up my arms like Aaron and Hur. It wasn’t a crowd holding up Moses’ arms. It was two people holding up his arms. Gossip can’t be stirred in amongst the few. Jesus didn’t have a zillion disciples. He chose twelve. He definitely spoke and taught the word to the masses, but He chose twelve who were drawn in and were close with Him all the time.
I am thankful for those of you who are in my circle. You know who you are. I love and appreciate you so much. I praise God for the depth of roots in the truth and your intimate relationship with Him that makes me want to draw close to you, too, because I recognize the Spirit in you.
If you are struggling through something, don’t be discouraged. The Bible says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). Struggles will come. It’s not if, it’s when. So when they come, be sure you have people around you who will remind you of the overcoming promises of Jesus, people who won’t try to explain or lean on their own understanding, people who will stand firm with you in Christ. That will be their position, and they won’t change their mind. They will remind you of God’s promises of who He is. 

The last thing I want to hear is someone who is unsettled or unsure of what is coming from the enemy and what is coming from God. I can tell you right now, it will make you toss to and fro and be dramatic, up and down, all over the place. Find some people to help you remain steadfast because in the shelter of the Most High God, we remain stable and fixed, under the shadow of the Almighty. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dear New Driver

Dear New Driver,
As much as Disney and Pixar want you to think your car has a personality, I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t. You can name it. You can put eyelashes on it. You can put a girdle in the front of it or decorate it with a tail on the back. You can call it by a name all day long, but your car does not have a personality. I’m so sorry. I apologize from the bottom of my heart that you have a friend you think is real and legit but it’s not.
Let me tell you this: since your car does not have a personality, it takes on your personality. When you hop in the car, if you are happy, your car is going to be happy. If you are sad, your car is going to be sad. If you are angry, your car is going to be angry. It’s probably going to be blasting through traffic, flying around people, completely annoyed. If you are in a hurry, your car is going to be fast. It didn’t turn into a sports car overnight. It’s not a Camaro. But you put that pedal to the metal and press it down because you need to get somewhere on time.
Just because you’re a new driver and you can drive does not mean you have to drive. When you are in a hurry or distracted, it’s okay to ask your parents to drive you where you need to go. Tell them, “I’m in a really big hurry, and I don’t want my car to be in a hurry,” or “I’m very upset right now. I’m afraid I won’t be able to drive through my tears,” or “I won’t be able to drive without anger.” 

If you recognize your car takes on your personality, then you can stop it. You can say, “It’s not okay to drive an angry car around town because that could hurt people.” There are consequences to driving your car when you are emotional. When your car is angry, you can end up in a wreck by hitting another car or hitting someone walking on the sidewalk. Wouldn’t that be awful? That is horrible. You would have to live with it.
We don’t want to do that. We want to make sure we realize our car does not have a personality—but it takes on ours.