nikkisperspective

A life worth living.

Month: April, 2013

The Gift of Adoption

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I just spent the day getting my daughter ready for her junior prom.  Moments like these are bittersweet for moms.  Shopping, nails, shoes, makeup, and hair are all on this mom’s list of favorites.  Watching your daughter combine all those activities and emerge looking less like a teen and more like a young woman, changes the dynamics.

As an adoptive mom it’s even a little harder.  Prom night is just another reminder that the time is slipping faster than I can savor it.  It’s another reminder that graduation and that 18th birthday are just around the corner.  It’s another reminder of all those missed moments that have led to this milestone event.

But it serves as another reminder too.  Seeing my daughter so beautiful and happy is just another bow on the gift of adoption.  We may have missed many moments, but the memories we’ve been a part of can’t compare to the ones we lost.

I wasn’t there the day she was born.  I wasn’t there when she took her first steps or said her first words.  I missed the first day of kindergarten and the chance to teach her to ride a bike.  But I was there today.  Today I helped my daughter get ready for prom.  And it reminds me that the moments missed just can’t compare to the memories made.  And that my friends, is the gift of adoption.

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The Power of a Touch

The Power of a Touch.

A Case for Homeschooling

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If you have children, you may have considered (or are considering) homeschool.  If you don’t have children, you may just be curious about those odd families who do school at the kitchen table.  At either rate, this post was written by a guest blogger who shares some important thoughts when reflecting on this issue.  

A Case for Homeschooling by Randi Brunansky 
  Randi is a graduate of Wichita State University with a BA in communications.  More importantly, she is the mother to four amazing and squirrely kids ages 1 to 6 and has made the brave choice to homeschool.

Our oldest daughter is in the last few weeks of her first grade year, and our second daughter is finishing preschool.  Unlike a majority of their peers, their schoolteacher is their mom. We sit at the kitchen table to have spelling tests. We do science experiments on the back patio. I change diapers, mediate play, and fix meals in between teaching addition, subtraction, and reading. My kids have no category for school bells, homework, large classrooms, and daily hours away from home.

My husband and I both attended public school and have our bachelor degrees from state universities.   Homeschooling wasn’t even on the radar for us when we got married. 

 I had heard homeschooling was on the rise in the United Sates, but according to this study, the number of children from kindergarten through 12thgrade who are being homeschooled has grown by 75% since 1999!  Why are so many more families making this choice?

To understand our decision, and perhaps the motivation of some other Christian families joining the homeschooling ranks, I think it’s best to start with a list of reasons that did not motivate us to homeschool. 

  1. We are not homeschooling our children because we are afraid of exposing them to sin and think we can shield them from it if we keep them home with us. Adam and Eve were tempted in God’s perfect garden at a time in their lives when God Himself was walking with them. We would be fools to think that we could protect our kids from sin in our less than perfect home with less than perfect parents.
  2. We are not homeschooling our children because we believe it’s sinful to put them in school. It’s a preference.
  3. We are not homeschooling our children because we think we can make them Christians by educating them ourselves. Salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit, not the work of homeschooling parents (Titus 3:5). 
  4. We are not homeschooling our children because we think it’s non-stop fun and easy.  If we only did what was fun and easy, we probably wouldn’t homeschool.
  5. We are not homeschooling our children because of the poor test scores of our nation.  Having the opportunity to teach mastery of subject to our children is a perk of homeschooling, but not the reason we do it.

So why did we choose homeschooling?  

 Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

In our nation’s quest for tolerance, God is not only ignored in the school system, He is attacked or dismissed. Children are taught that they make their own truth.  One’s religion and one’s academic life are treated as separate entities with the mantra cry of our nation’s leaders “separation of church and state.”  

But for the Christian, there is no separation of church and state. Our faith is the lens by which we interpret the world around us and make all our decisions.  We clearly see in Proverbs 1:7 that God and knowledge are intertwined. God and academics are intertwined.

As a family, we see homeschooling as way to give our children an education that teaches them from the beginning that the science, math, art, and communication they are learning about are rooted in the characteristics of the God who created those subjects.

We have four children. We learned early on that we would not be able to afford private school for all four of our kids. I’m thankful it’s the path the Lord had for us. Teaching my girls (and one day my little boys) to read and to write, and the importance of these subjects related to studying the Bible have been the high of my mothering moments.

Homeschooling allowed me to teach my oldest about the Fertile Crescent and Confucius right along with the Creation account in the Bible and the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea.  It wasn’t Sunday school and regular school, it was just school.

In the early years, we are seeking to build a solid foundation in the Word of God with our children’s education. Working them both out together. Our hope is to be able to put them in the public school system when the foundation has been laid, and watch them be a light for truth there.

The time we spend together, the fruitful discussions, the enjoyment over learning something new, the relationships of siblings being strengthened, the ability to go slower over challenging subjects, the freedom to do a mastery of a subject before moving on, the absence of peer pressure and bullying, are just some of the benefits we’ve experienced personally as a homeschooling family.

 These aren’t the reasons we made the decision to keep our children home.  They are unexpected benefits that make our choice sweeter. We chose homeschooling because it allows us the freedom to teach our children that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” on a daily basis. And that makes the work of teacher and mom worth it. 

 

 

 

The Devastation of Separation

I attended a conference today.  The conference highlighted research by the ACE Study.  Before I get to the heart and soul of this post, let me just throw some fast facts your way.

In a nutshell, your ACE score is calculated by the various types of adverse childhood experiences encountered while growing up.  The score is not per incident, but per category.

If you’re feeling brave, have a moment of self-reflection and find out your score here.  The categories are:

  1. Recurrent physical abuse
  2. Recurrent emotional abuse
  3. Contact sexual abuse
  4. An alcohol and/or drug abuser in the household
  5. An incarcerated household member
  6. Someone who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal
  7. Mother is treated violently
  8. One or no parents
  9. Emotional or physical neglect

According to the Center for Disease Control, as your ACE score increases, your risk for the following health problems increase dramatically:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease (IHD)
  • Liver disease
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy

As a worker in the social services, this research is of particular interest to me.  So as I sat and listened (getting totally bummed out b.t.w), I thought the information was fascinating, but now what?  How do I reduce these risks for people with high ACE scores?

The solution?  There really isn’t one.  Of course there were some panelists who gave great suggestions for our community and the legislators.  But the true reality that Dr. Vincent Felitti pointed out was that there has been no research conducted showing the efficacy of interventions on the health of those with high ACE scores……insert jaw drop here.

No one else on the panel wanted to touch that.  They politely interjected that there are great programs with great successes, but not ones that have been tested against this data.  (Enter moment of panic as I pictured the futures of my high-scoring loved ones).

Now it’s time to back up.  Programs are great.  Early intervention programs are critical.  Research is necessary.  But as Dr. Felitti pointed out, they’re not the cure.  And if we pretend they are, we are slapping a band-aid on a festering wound.

As a Christian in a secular culture, I have been very well indoctrinated that faith is to be kept separate from every other aspect of life.  Keep your faith out of school, government, health care, public opinion, and particularly research.  And as a student of history, I can point out many times when individuals have taken “faith” into these areas and run amuck with their personal agendas in the name of Christ.

But the devastation of this separation is band-aids for people in need of major surgery.  The gospel was not written for perfect, rich, individuals living in their castles.  The gospel was written for those individuals with high ACE scores.  It was written for the sick, for the dying, for the lost, for the lonely, for you, and for me (Matt. 9:12-13).

And the solution is not to create a “Christian” government or “Christian” programs, but rather for the church to rise up and share this truth with the people.  Rise up church.  Rise up Christian.  Because the reality is, if you know the truth about Jesus Christ, you have the truth that makes the power of an ACE score obsolete.

It is the power of Christ over sin.  Not only the power for you to overcome sin, but also to overcome the scars embedded by the sins of others.

Set that Truth free.  Don’t be afraid to share it.   Don’t separate it from the rest of your life.  The devastation of that separation is death, disease, and more devastation.  But the reality of the Truth is everlasting life and healing, in this life, or the next.

John 8:31-34

31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”’

The truth about gay marriage and Christianity

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I was a little surprised last week when Facebook was flooded with the red bars for gay marriage equality.  Not surprised that it was being shared, but more surprised by who was sharing it.  Many people whom I know profess to follow God in one form of Christianity or another were changing their profile pics in support of gay marriage.  It seemed as though a serious line was being crossed.    

When I was in college I was approached to sign a petition to define marriage in the AZ constitution as between a man and a woman.  I declined the request.  I just felt the issue was too polarizing.  You had to either hate gay people or be liberal.  I felt like signing the petition put me on the side of hate.  So I did neither, I chose silence and called it love. 

The arguments I heard just weren’t enough to help me “choose” a side.  I don’t think America is a Christian nation so why should everyone have to pretend to be Christian?  If the majority wants gay marriage then let the majority have it. 

I now understand that my choice was misguided.  The truth is, God created and designed marriage (Gen. 2:22-24).  Not me, not you, not the forefathers, the constitution, or some ancient tribe.  God outlined marriage in the Bible and it is a Holy covenant (Malachi 2:10-17). 

We don’t have the right to redefine it.  And if you call yourself Christian, you should fear our country’s attempt to do so; not parade around with the movement and call it equality. 

I write this because I too have been so confused by the issue.  Many so-called Christians have taken homosexuality and made it the flagship for sin in America.  They spew hate and Bible verses side by side. 

I don’t stand with them, and I know if you were a Christian who changed your profile pic, you don’t either. 

So what are our choices?  Hate, equality, silence?  Or how about love?  It is out of love that I am not ashamed to say that marriage is between a man and a woman. 

Because if you have read any of your Bible, you know that God takes His covenants very seriously (Leviticus).  God’s Holiness is not a voting matter.  He will preserve His covenant.  And a country who chooses to attempt to distort that covenant and call it equality, is rushing into judgment (Hebrews 13:4).  That’s a judgment I want no part of.  It’s a judgment I don’t want anyone to have a part of. 

We don’t get to redefine marriage.  We can pass a law and pretend, but that law will have consequences.  It is not out of hate that we fight to preserve marriage, but it is truly and wholly out of love.