Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 151: May 31, 2016

Bridget Reagan

May 31, 2016       Bridget, Alumni of Community Homeschoolers Reflects on Her Parents, the Teachers

(In our homeschooling community we have two wonderful graduates, Mary Lauer and John Reagan. John's sister, Bridget, posted this and I loved it. I asked for permission to reprint it. You will enjoy it as well!)
John Reagan

I know it's generally customary to celebrate the student who graduates at the end of their grade school years. However, in our case, all of the faculty is graduating, too! Since I designed the graduation slideshow, I need to apologize because I didn't include them (their senior photos weren't on Facebook):
Mom and Dad,
Congratulations on successfully navigating the waters of homeschooling so your kids could work at their own pace and find what we really loved in the world. Everyone survived, even you, and we didn't make it easy.
I know this must be a bittersweet moment for you, because for over 20 years you have had at least one child relying on you to explain everything they encounter in life and textbooks, and now you will have to settle for my frantic calls from 300 miles away about bees in my apartment. Not many schools have a 100% college attendance rate. I don't think any of them can boast a 75% Hofstra attendance rate, or anything near our Cat:Human ratio, either.
Being homeschooled by Matthew and Kelly Reagan influences a lot of behaviors.Shockingly, I'm not talking about the social repercussions, though there is something to be said for being stuck in the house with your entire family every day of the week. I'm referring to the drive to truly understand something, to get excited about learning something new for the sake of learning it. Watching your parents teach a sibling gives you a lot of perspective for when you have to learn something on your own, or teach someone else.
I'm also referring to an understanding of timeliness, dedication, and preparation. We were taught to always follow through with our obligations, no matter how much we don't want to. Always be prepared for any situation (always bring a screwdriver, a 6+ sided die, and a laptop). Always arrive in plenty of time to practice! This isn't to say we're on time, but at least we feel really bad about it when we're late.
So far, I can give you at least 75% assurance that you have successfully raised us to adulthood, bees notwithstanding. And, your graduation is the only one that doesn't mean more loans! Congratulations again, keep up the good work!!
BridgetErinPatrick, and now John Reagan

Monday, May 30, 2016

Day 150: May 30, 2016 Bonnie Lauer's Speech at Her Daughter's Graduation

May 30, 2016 Bonnie Lauer's Speech at Her Daughter's Graduation
Day 150

(The following is a speech Bonnie Lauer (you all know her!) gave at Mary's, her youngest daughter, graduation. I asked her for a copy because I knew you would enjoy it. She is so articulate and delivered it so well. We need to read more of her writings and hear more of her speeches. She has been a homeschool comrade, partner in crime, with the rest of us homeschool mavericks. We have been doing this for over twenty years and we know that homeschool is not the panacea, it is not the end all be all. But we have done it because we really enjoy spending time with our children. We are not looking for a yellow bus come September, maybe February, but never September. So if you want to know more about homeschooling, Bonnie knows the homeschool world and would be a great advocate. Enjoy)
(Following written by Bonnie Lauer)
This is a special day for our families. We share a special connection that began with meeting in preschool and extends through today. Both of us are graduating our youngest child and ending our homeschooling experience.  Interestingly, both our families began homeschooling our oldest at the same time and they both graduated together in 2007. The first and now the last.

It won’t end here though. As each of our families grew, so did our bonds.  Like a tapestry, the lives of myself, John, Kelly and Matt became woven together through the lives of all our children. Bridget and Mark, and then Colin, all three part of the same circle of friends; Erin and Luke bonded over fights about their respective pacifiers and now, having worked out those difference, remain good friends; Patrick, Maggie and Eve, and then John and Mary, endured play groups, field trips, play practices, and social events as the little siblings of the older homeschoolers but soon became friends attending semi-formals, carpools, trick-or-treating, parties, lifeguard training and, of course, play practices of their own. Each of them will follow their own path but will remain connected to one another, whether through memories of growing up together or occasional sightings when they return to familiar neighborhood gatherings or with regular meet-ups, phone calls and texts.

And here we are now at John and Mary’s graduation. Kelly and I, and to some extent Matt and John, now find ourselves out of a job, or retired. But as homeschoolers, we have had a different experience than other parents when it comes to education. We were an active part of our children’s education. We planned, prepared and implemented a lot of it. We oversaw, investigated options and participated in it. We recorded info in logs, filled portfolios, and filed paperwork for the evaluator and the school district. After all these years, I know I am glad to be done with that, and I am sure Kelly is too. It was often difficult, frustrating, confusing and tiring because you know it was more than just teaching. It is also parenting, house keeping, food prep and errands, along with keeping track of everyone’s schedules, running someone to a class or appointment, pregnancies and toddlers, illnesses, and various commitments in the community all the while having every one of the children with you while doing these things!

But I want to say that I cannot imagine doing anything more rewarding than what I have been doing the past twenty years. I am so grateful for this journey we have taken together as a family, as part of the learning group, and as friends that will always be strands of the tapestry of this homeschooling life. Let me share just how this experience enriched all our lives.

Home schooling has not just educated my children, but has developed adults who have inquiring minds. They are curious, creative, questioning and open minded to experiences, ideas, people.They have been able to interact and connect with and be a part of so many varied people, places and ways of learning.

Home schooling has grown siblings who really know and love each other. Being at home for school the oldest saw the younger ones grow up. The younger ones were a part of the big kids lives. Outings, vacations, births, and sicknesses were for everyone. Now they enjoy being together, they want to know what is going on with each other, and are there for each other when needed.

Home schooling has developed a sense that our home is a place where life happens -- the good, the bad, the necessary and the serendipitous. Others become part of the family when they are here. It is a place to welcome, to worship, to shelter, to learn, to grow, to serve, to renew and to belong.

Home schooling has been a way to live as disciples of Christ, learning and growing together. We also had the opportunity to live as a witness to our faith for each other and and those we encounter, intentionally or as life is lived. We have been able to have this interwoven in all areas of living, day by day. God is present and faithful in the daily and ordinary, as well as the extraordinary.  

And finally, home schooling has taught me more than anyone. Parenting has a way of doing that, but the homeschooling life adds other lessons I think I may have missed otherwise. And since I can be hard to train, I got six different experiences to learn from with my six children! I’ve learned way too much to name now but one important thing is this - We will learn what we need to know when we are open and ready to understand. And this is a never ending process as we go through life.

So while lots of people ask me if I am sad over my last graduation, I can honestly say “no” because the things that I’ve mentioned are the things that will not ever end. And, they are the things that are the most important and valuable aspect of not just our homeschooling journey, but of life. Mary created a Community Homeschool Learning Group logo a number of years ago in a graphic design art class. It is a tree with roots and branches.  Relationships, faith, community, growth and wisdom are the roots that have been developed and fed, allowing a strong trunk to form that sends out branches - the crown of the tree and each are unique.  Sometimes the growth is vigorous and at other times barely noticeable. But the roots of a homeschooled life go deep and wide and I am confident that it is by God’s grace these rewards are the fruits of our homeschool journey and that they will continue to bless me, my family and you in all our days ahead. Written by Bonnie Lauer

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Day 149: May 30, 2016

May 30, 2016
Day 149

There comes a time during the day
when I must stop.
Just stop.
And Sit.
And Think.
This is a time to process 
the what, the who,
the why, they how, the where.
This is a time to wonder, 
to dream,to consider all possibilities.
This is a time to wait.
Just wait.
Everyday I must do this.
The strength of my inner man
depends on the time I give
myself to just be.
It may look lazy
and that is fine. 
But if I do not do this....
it's not good.

Day 148: May 28, 2016 Reflections for Caity and Colby

May 28, 2016
Day 148    Reflections for Caity and Colby

I was the bride on a beautiful summer day in 1986 and Lynn was the groom. The mystery of how a little girl from upstate New York and a little boy from the wilds of Northern Ontario can meet and begin to walk towards a union will always and forever intrigue me. Caity and Colby, we are glad that you discovered each other.

This summer we will celebrate our 30th year anniversary. We shake our heads in disbelief. Lynn and I continue to walk over tough and smooth roads but always hand 'n hand and with this view in mind; our relationship is purposeful. We are a living unit that has a call beyond a selfish fest. I would like to share with you some of my reflections and offer hope to the both of you.

Marriage is the best training grounds for your christian walk, the perfect sanctification tool. You, my dears, have just been given the opportunity of your lifetime to grow closer to the ONE who loves you most intimately. This view is going to pull your eyes toward the one who navigates - Jesus, and pull your eyes away from the two of you, simply

The biggest mistake a couple can make is not to view their marriage through a correct lense. Your view of your union is what will determine your fulfillment in marriage. If you are looking for self-fulfillment, you chose the wrong institution. For your union is not to be insular, myopic, self focused or navel gazed. Your union soars past the shakey foundations. You are building a family, and even if it remains Colby and Caity, this is a family. This relationship is going to fast track you to the throne room and school you in prayer. This union is going to entertain, provide meals, day retreats, overnight rests, insights, healing, and more importantly a place to learn more of the Father's love. The world's view of marriage is simply not useful nor helpful. Marriage bursts through that puny door and expands into greater fields. Your union is a vessel, a conduit, a roundabout but never a dead end street.

Does he still feel the same way? Do I still feel the same way? Throw these questions out. The question of the day is this; Am I changing in a way that allows me to be more loving and am I using my gifts well, am I being who I was created to be fully and making my destined mark in this world for the good of the world? Now that's a loaded question! Ask it everyday and work on the answer. And now I am now under own conviction (why do I write these things??)? I must work on that question.

Learn to understand what it means to be Kingdom of light dwellers and in contrast what it means to not be kingdom of darkness dwellers. Though it is subtle it is makes the difference of a lifetime here and "on the other side." It is essential for you to learn the culture of God's Kingdom and not be sucked into the culture that surrounds you.

Gain muscles by swimming upstream against the current of the world's standards. It is easy to float with everyone downstream but it does not end well. The more you swim against the mainstream, the stronger you are and it ends at a beautiful meadow of grace.

Entertain regardless of your home size. Do not miss out on this blessing. There are no limiting factors- size of home, limited budget etc. Your home will breath space and God will supply. Your home will be a refuge for many, a place where they will connect with their true Lover. Do it, you might entertain an angel- I have six. I just went too far.

My only regret is that I wish I would have known Lynn longer. May this be your only regret as well. Blessings, Caity and Colby! May God expand your marriage view into galactic proportions! You have just entered the whirlwind of wonder. Sit back and enjoy....

Friday, May 27, 2016

Day 147: May 27, 2016 Goodnight

May 27, 2016
Day 147

Words are scrambling as my head nods off and my eyes go shut. Goodnight. God is so good. There are many tonight who will not sleep well tonight. As you go off to your slumber would you remember those in our midst who will not sleep well tonight.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 146: May 26, 2016 Best 2016 Summer Reading List

May 26, 2016      Best 2016 Summer Reading List
Day 146

Yesterday I asked Facebook Friends the following:

I would love to know some of your most favorite books that a student and adult would equally love. Let's begin a grand list! I will start with mine - "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" by Madeleine Angle. This is the list that followed. The compilers of the following suggestions are found at the end of this list.  You will note that I began with energy - I looked up the author's name to place alongside their work. But my energy waned and I am bone tiredl I leave it into your capable hands or I might get to it sooner or later. But for now - here we go! Summer reading is the best!

The Wilderness Family: At Home with Africa's Wildliffe: Kobie Kruger
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbet
The Lemony Snicket A Series of Misfortunate Events by Daniel Handler
My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abeel
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Help by Kathryn Stocket
Wonder by Palacio
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Rules by Cynthia Lord
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
Mr. God, This is Anna by Sydney Hopkins
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
My Side of the Mountain Trilogy by Jean Craighead George
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Last Dragon by Berry Gordy
Mysterious Benedict Society Books by Trenton Lee Steward
Chomp by Carl Hiasson
Bone Graphic Novels by Jeff Smith
The Fog Mound Books by Susan Chade and Jon Buller
Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Gideon the Cutpurse
Hedge of Thorns
Jessica's First Prayer
The Good Earth
Atlas Shrugged
The Zookeeper's Wife
We Were the Mulvaneys
In the Land of the Blue Burquas
Lolita in Tehran
The Cay
Where the Red Fern Grows
Yellow Crocus
No Ordinary Time
Wrinkle in Time
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Seven Sons and Seven Daughters
The Candy Maker
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Long Walk to Water
Follow My Leader
The Year of Miss Agnes
Harriet the Spy by Beverly Clearly
White Fang by Jack London
Call of the Wild by Jack London
Wednesday Wars
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Georgia by Eugenia Price
Red Sails to Capri by
Island of the Blue Dolphins
The Book Thief by Zusak
The Looking Glass War Series
Tiger Rising by Kate Dicamillo
Because of Winn Dixie
Gregor the Overlander Series by Suzanne Collins
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
Little House Series
The Glass Castle
The Double Blind
Emma and Me
Bread and Wine
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Shiloh Season
Shiloh Returns
Little Britches by Ralph Moody
The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume

Tiffany Shoffner, Rozanna Stoltzfus Leever, Diane Tameo Treichler, Amanda Hertzler, Misty Stoltzfus, Elizabeth Licitra,  Betty Bauder, Jari Butler, Elizabeth Weaver, Barbaranne Wallace Kelly, Dorothy Boorse, Allison Harner Bolt, Dale Cupo, Marian Barnett, Dawn VanLandeghem Newswanger, Robert Charles White, Rachel Nyssen, Kim Williamson, Annette Hertzler, LaRonda Snader, Wendy Boerner Brynan, Janet K. Richards, Amy Griffiths Shenk, Cathy Cuff Coffman, Donna Herron Pitzer, Darci Tyler Harrington, Angel Petersen, Rebecca Keeport Juhl, Rose Myers, Darcia Jackson

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Day 145: May 25, 2016 Relentless Things

May 25, 2016      Relentless Things
Day 145

Sometimes I need to let "things" go and not allow them to keep coming back in the door with more reasons to stay. Kinda like putting a kid to bed with just one more thing; but I have to go potty, I need a drink, I am scared. These un relentless "things" keep popping up like a whack a mole game. And I keep whacking them like a gambler. Maybe this one will cure all. Oh wait, maybe this one. And on and on it goes. Like a fool I let this happen. Over and over and over again. Just like when I am weak boned and give in to the persistent child who is asking and asking and asking beyond when I say, NO!

This is where I understand why God calls faith work and why this kind of work is the most important kind we can do. To believe that Jesus is the Son of God is to do the works of God. I am called on a second by second basis to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and has redeemed me and has, by His death, provided His Holy Spirit. To let "things" go is to believe that Jesus can take care of these "things" with wisdom, mercy, grace and honor. God is so good.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 144: May 23, 2016 Clarity in the Jumble

May 23, 2016         Clarity in the Jumble
Day 144

Eek....today....what a jumble mess. Clear thoughts? No. Persistent thoughts? Yes. Cloudy thoughts? Yes. Thoughts? Many! These are days when the mind's fruit basket is upended and where it lands, I do not care. In fact I am the one who upends it. My mind is here, there, a bit more here, a little bit more there, everywhere. I look at what people are doing and I begin to race, I must catch up. But I pant for air because, in my mind, I can not catch up. I will never catch up, they are out of sight. I catch sight of him, he's smiling.

A couple of days ago, the world was mine, I could conquer it without anyone's help. Today, the world is theirs, and I say go ahead take it. Sluggish I am, slow indeed and simple is all I feel. What should I do? I don't know? Maybe I should do this or maybe I should do that? My mind is a ferris wheel that not only spins around one axis but spins around many.

STOP. AND LET ME TELL YOU WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE FOR ME. The rope is thrown to me in the mind pit. It is the gratitude rope. I pull on it and slowly ascend as my thoughts begin to turn. There is a God and this dear Father desires to peace fill the mind, calm the soul, clear the thoughts and pull them to His throne room. Here he encourages me to rush in and spend time with Him. He races with me in a forest, darting here, darting there, peeking around a tree, pulling me into a love chase through the woods and grabbing me, hugging me and telling me He loves me and He only wants me to focus on Him. But, but, I should, but, I need to, but, but...............SHHHHHH, he motions lay down beside the s t i l l waters. Rest sweet girl, rest.

And He encourages me to do business, the buisness of asking Him to fight the good fight for me. To, "in the Name of Jesus, enemy be gone" kind of business! The weight lifts, the sun is indeed yellow and His righteousness is clearly mine. How? By simply believing. It is that easy. Try it! You'll like it!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 143: May 23, 2016 How Does He Do It?

May 23, 2016         How Does He Do It?
Day 143

Lately my thoughts are full of gratitude for God's ability to still love me, let alone like me. I am so full of myself and yet He still delights in me. I am an emotional wreck and He still wants to spend time with me. I obsess about the weirdest things and He continues to speak tenderly to me. I take credit for so much and He still offers me more opportunities to serve Him.  I can not pull together a string of thought and He continues to  trust me with eternal concepts.  This God loves beyond my abilities, inabilities, He loves in and through and despite.

I am beginning to think He's not perceptive. But I do know He is particular in His directed love towards me. He is peculiar and persistently patient as He relentlessly pursues me.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Day 142: May 22, 2016 Isn't He Wonderful

May 22, 2016       Isn't He Wonderful
Day 142
Sabbath is for rest and understanding who is in control.
He allows me to rest. What other God does this? Task master? Are you kidding. This God loves and loves completely. I am basking in His goodness when I rest on a Sabbath. His sacrificial love allows me to rest. Honestly, what is there not to love about this God?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day 141: May 21, 2016 Cat Has God's Tongue

May 21, 2016        Cat Has God's Tongue
Day 141

The cat has God's tongue. His voice is past tense and only a good bible study is left. It is all we can do. One look into the eyes of someone who believes this LIE plummets us to their lifeless inner life. A walk in their shoes speaks volumes yet there is no need to turn up the knob for we hear nothing. When one does not expect, seek, or anticipate it is met with nothing. So many are living this way. Are you? You know there is MORE? Right???!!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Day 140: May 20, 2016 No Love For Themselves

May 20, 2016   No Love For Themselves
Day 140

To the men in our lives who struggle with p o r n o g r a p h y and to the women who are also struggling with the very same thing, we love you and want to help set you free. We want you to know that we hurt for you. We know it is really not how you want to be spending your alone time, hiding in the darkness catching a peek. There are so many other things you really want to be doing but you are trapped, strapped and pushed to view. Though you cannot see the demonic stronghold on your life, you feel it, you are a slave to it, and you know the pressure you feel that causes you to gasp for air. We know that you would much prefer freedom and if we knew how to help you out of the dank, dark, putrid cave, we would. We love you. We know there is no freedom for you, it pulls, tugs, nags and demands your attention. You are a slave and we want you, our fellow men to be free, free from the addiction that has your heart, soul, and mind twisted.

You would never speak about your pornographic slave addiction around the dinner table. You would never speak about this to your siblings, your grandparents, your aunts, your uncles, your mother, your father, or your neighbors. The truth is that what we do not cherish we do in hidden dark places. Fear haunts you, that cannot feel good. We want to hear your heart. We want you to be able to share freely from a place of repentance and forgiveness. You were created for more than this! This is a fact. We are so sorry you are here. Did you not want to stay with us on the freedom trail? When did you get off? We want you back on this beautiful path!

You will never ask us to celebrate your pornography, never. We want to celebrate you, your gifts, your talents, your ideas, your heart. Your need to view pictures of people you do not know reveals your lack of respect and complete rejection of the sanctity of life, the honoring of people. But what it really reveals is your lack of respect for you! To only want to see someone naked reveals so much of your emptiness and this is where our hearts break for you. We want you full, full of the wonderful, the magnificent, the extraordinary, the wealth of life. We see you in the landfill of darkness and we want you clean. We love you! We want to run the freedom trail with you!

Can you imagine embarking on your pornographic adventures and finding your sister, your aunt, your grandmother and your mother splayed on the pages? Your insides would twist, turn, and hurl. What if you were made to meet every woman or man you see naked? Your payment to view them naked was to get to know them, to take time with them. You were made to greet them, to ask them their back story and to go home with them.

Or what if after viewing "x" amount of degrading pictures you were then demanded to marry one of them. You could pick but you HAD to end up with one of the options. Would you want to bring her home to your family? Would you want to bring her to a dinner party with friends confident that when they asked her what her profession was you would be honored to hear her say, "I am in pornographic photos, I have some with me, do you want to see them?"

We hurt for you. Come out of the closest, the basement, the locked room, the attic, the office, the bedroom. Ask your Father for forgiveness. He will and so will we. Remember, your thrill lasts a second while the yuck sticks to you like sweat from a hot day in the rock quarry with the task master from hell.

We love you. The day Christ suffered to set you free, He took all your pornographic looks at faceless men and women on His Body. All your pornographic sins are paid for. You can live free, in the kingdom of light, adventuring with Jesus!

The very real and present truth is this - you are watched every time you shamefully view an individual naked, someone you will never want to meet in person. God sees you do this every time and He loves you still!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day 139: May 19, 2016 Thank You

May 19, 2016    Thank  You
Day 139

I love you heavenly Father from whom all blessings flow. You shower me, you pamper me with wonderful insights, lovely thoughts and splendid times of refreshing.  Your people are my people and I love them so. You are so good to me. You love to make me smile. I so love the calls out of the blue to come and pray with someone. You bring such wonderful people into my life on a daily basis as you help me to understand the fun of heaven - it will be just like that. Every where you turn someone new and wonderful, that's heaven. I never know what to expect of my day but every night I lay my head down to a real good day. Thank you so much for that.

Oh, my sweet Jesus, your death gave me so much life. It is so hard to imagine life without you - so I am not going to even try! Thank you Jesus! Thank you.

Good night.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 138: May 18, 2016 I Respect Children

May 18, 2016      I Respect Children
Day 138

I remember being a child. I remember being an adolescent. I remember being a teenager and this is what provides me with empathy, a heart bursting toward a child. I love children and I am compelled and driven to respect them because I do remember and I remember well. I was shushed, eyes rolled, heads shook back and forth, and I remember being embarrassed when an adult's response did not match my intentions or motives. For in reality there was a lack of intention on my part, I was a child doing something childish, period. There was not much else going on in my brain. I just really loved life! Their negative response often surprised me and rushed me into a self conscious corner full of embarrassment. My heroes were my parents. They delighted in me, respected and gave me a safe place to discuss the disconnects. Bob and Suzanne never embarrassed me in public, NEVER.

I was the child in your face, one of those children that could be annoying if the adult lacked vision. To be fair, the adult in my life really needed vision. I asked you questions, question about what you were doing, what were you going to do, what had you done. I had an imagination that did not stop, thoughts that raged at a pace I could not keep up with and I wanted Barbara Walters job. I would hop in your car and go with you wherever you wanted. I loved visiting. I loved playing outside by myself or with others. I would take personal risks. I would cartwheel into a room, sing and play the piano loud. I was the child in your face.

I offer to that child a place in my home, a mental spot where I listen to them. I appreciate them and give them the respect they are due for each child is a unique representation of the Creator and there is no one else like them. I delight in their thoughts, their heart, their ways and their smiles. In a world of scrutiny I offer them acceptance. 

Children, you give me energy. Hooray to you! You make me smile. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 137: May 17, 2016 Hesed

May 17, 2016     Hesed
Day 137

Because of the Lord's great love (hesed) we are not consumed.
For His compassions (mercies) never fail. 
They are new every morning:
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:23

How many times have you read this verse or heard it spoken? It brings a variety of impressions, emotions, thoughts and senses to your being. If you have grown up in the church it is a nostalgic verse, if you are recently saved it is a life line verse! But when you take the time to look up the Hebrew words in this verse- it explodes you into a new understanding. You are on a blanket at a beautiful park in love with your Savior.

Can we do that together? Do what, you wonder? Look up the word or words in this verse and see what they mean in Hebrew? Please, please, please! It is so explosively fun and your heart will soar. Let's do it. First let me say, that to study, for the believer, means to thirst for more of an understanding of God's great love. It is a quest, a treasure hunt, a deciphering of an intense love letter that has layers upon layers of meaning. This is exactly what we look for in love letters, we constantly read between the lines and soak up the love dripping between the words.

Let's look up the word hesed which is the hebrew word for love. We are going to see what Zhodiates's definition is. You are wondering Zhod who? Read the definition first and then I will introduce you to Zhodiates after.

Definition: "The quality of the kindness shown (of this love) is usually that reserved for close friends and family members, but the act of hesed can be demonstrated in any relationship.... An act of hesed presupposes the existence of a relationship between the parties involved, but where no formal relationship has previously been recognized, the person exercising hesed has chosen to treat the recipient as if such a relationship did exist. For example, Rahab demonstrated hesed toward the Israelite spies whom she did not know and with whom she had nothing in common (Joshua 2:12). It is interesting to note that acts of hesed are often reciprocated, and that it is not unusual for the benefactor to request a return of hesed from the recipient. Abimilech asked that Abraham return his hesed by not dealing falsely with him (Genesis 21:23); the Israelite spies agreed with Rahab to save her family from destruction because of the hesed she showed to them (Joshua 2:12:14); and David promised to requite the hesed shown by the men of Jabesh of Gilead when he heard they had buried Saul's body ( 2 Samuel 2:4-6) Hesed is central to God's Character. It is closely tied to His covenant with His chosen people in fact, the covenant may be thought of as the relationship from which the hesed flows. God's hesed, however, is not bound by the covenant itself, and though men may prove unfaithful to this relationship, God's hesed is everlasting."  (My bible is the "Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible" put out by AMG publishers Chattanoga, TN 3742:U.S.A)

We can now take this definition and bring it back to the verse - "Because of the Lord's great hesed we are not consumed." Wow! Who would consume their best friend???!!!! God sees me as a close friend, he treats me as close friend, he loves me as a close friend. His love towards me is everlasting like a close friend even when I am not acting towards him like a close friend. He still hangs with me.

The time we took to study the Hebrew word was minimal compared to the expansive measure of love it stirred up in our heart. And this is a good point. If you find your time of study greater than your love increased... "Houston we have had a problem here!" We study to learn more about our amazing God! We fall more madly in love with him with every insight into His Word. If our study only increases our knowledge of Him without touching the depth of our heart - not good, not good, it is a fruitless endeavor.

Don't you agree? Hesed is a beautiful word. A lovely word expressing the Father's love for you! Mornings are rough for me. Night time is wonderful. By the end of day my faith soars, yes we can do this. Yes, the bills will be paid (with what? who knows but yes they will be paid), yes! God is faithful. But mornings, man, they're rough. I gots to walk on down to the wall, to the river and get me some fresh liquid. Every morning I am in need. And God says to me, "Lynne, my close friend, my mercies at the river are new for you every morning!" He knew it! He knew the morning time is the right time for new mercies. You know why? He knows me. He is my closest friend. He heseds me! And He heseds you!

Addendum: (to those still curious) So who is this Zhodiates guy? He is cool dude and one who has brought many Hebrew and Greek words to life. If you want to know more about this man, here is the link - Spiro Zhodiates

Monday, May 16, 2016

Day 136: May 16, 2016 Spending Time

May 16, 2016        Spending Time
Day 136

She asked if we could spend time together outside on a blanket. Warm sun on a soft blue blanket in the middle of our yard is the perfect place to rest, to be, to talk, to be a mom and daughter. An hour later I wake up and she is gone.  I love you Nicky.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Day 135: May 15, 2016 Robyn

May 15, 2016        Robyn
Day 135

Tonight we celebrated the birth of our first daughter, Robyn, by having a family meal. We went around the table with everyone taking turns telling her of what she meant to them. We honored her as a daughter, a sister, and a wife.

Twenty eight years ago she came into the world at 1:30 pm on a Monday. One nurse, unbeknownst to us continued to monitor Robyn, she was concerned about her breathing. The pediatrician, Dr. Gross, came into our room late that night and with sadness told us we were not able to take our baby home. She needed to be admitted to the NIC Unit. There was a spot on her lungs and at that point it was unclear as to its origin.

Lynn and I spent the night at the hospital while our new daughter spent it in a little plastic doom-like box hooked up to wires, one of which was an IV of antibiotics dripping into her little body. It was determined she had aspirated meconium. She spent the first five days of her life on her back. I would go in and nurse and hold her. She was so new, so little, so vulnerable. (she is crying as she reads this)

Thankfully, on that Friday we were able to drive home with our new, sweet daughter, Robyn Elizabeth Lynne Burkholder. What an amazing individual you are, Bobbie. There is not much you will not try. You love fiercely in your own Robyn way. You are a wonderful wife, loving mother, caring sister and daughter. I love having a daughter like you! I am so proud of who you are!

Robyn, I love you! Thank you for not wavering and always being true to who you are. You are you no matter who you are with. I love that you stand for what you believe. You have never allowed religiosity to take hold and I can not imagine you ever will. Any one you have ever met who has a semblance of religiosity is never are able to stay too long in  your life. You kinda rock their world. Personally, I do not think they can handle your freedom.  I so love that about you, my dear! DO NOT CHANGE! You move mountains!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Day 134: May 14, 2016 Vacant Eyes

May 14, 2016       Vacant Eyes
Day 134

Vacant look from eyes that see
far too much than you or me,

sickening banter empty talk
guides them on their mindless walk

never full, their pot of hope
finding hard the means to cope

wishing for another life
this one's hard and full of strife

let's go tell them all we know
never alone and it is so

Jesus loves them it is true
the harvest many, the workers few

We are His hands, we are His feet
He sits upon His Royal Seat

He loves us so, He sent His spirit
He offers peace to all, His dearest

To you and me

Friday, May 13, 2016

Day 133: May 13, 2016 Community Opportunities and Wider Learning

May 13, 2016       Community Opportunities and Wider Learning
Day 133

Though this is the start of a beautiful relationship, the Wider Middle School Students said their goodbyes to their new favorite organic gardener, Erica Lavdanski. They will definitely see her again, but our five weeks of an in-depth look into an organic farmer's life ended, yesterday, in the potato field. At the B & H Organic Produce Farm, Erica and Wider pulled off a highly successful educational opportunity that shoved past conventional means and ways and headed straight into the "field". Wider's trajectory is community involvement at deeper levels and this mini project is just the beginning of a rich journey. We believe a community offers many things on so many levels and when it comes to learning it is a cornucopia of exceptional opportunities. Unfortunately, we tend to look over the fence rather than under our noses. But when we discover and engage with what is at our fingertips the result is often symbiotic and instructional. For life is the classroom.

For the past five weeks we have been captivated by Erica, one highly motivated and energized lady in our very own community, who has shared with us her wealth of organic knowledge. I am convinced that the seeds Erica has sown into each student will germinate into adults who will not knee jerk when they hear the word "organic" but allow their brains to expand with new thoughts and new ways. They now understand the benefits, limitations, successes, failures, hardships and lure of operating an organic farm. Their extended engagement with Erica has broadened their thoughts to ponder food prices, growing practices, and usage of pesticides and herbicides. For instance, they will no longer look at a field in the spring with a yellow color and think anything other than an herbicide. For Erica lent some explanation to this, "All fields in the spring should look green."

Not only did these students benefit but Erica did as well. For in a community we give to one other and it does not always look tit for tat but rather a continuous flow of gratitude. These students paid in labor for their rich educational experience. They learned about the stressors an organic farmer must face and their nonconventional ways and means while planting more than ten flats of squash, two sizable rows of broccoli and about six rows of potatoes. Both parties, the farmer and the students, were affected, impacted and changed. Every week she would show us the progress of the plants we had planted. She also led us to the asparagus patch where again she is heavily mulching with wood chips due to a video we had passed her way. She had done this before, given up and was recharged only because of this video we had encouraged her to watch. This is symbiosis at best.

To prepare for this adventure was simple. Erica and I met on a warm February day sitting on folding chairs making a bare bones list of the following: Soil Preparation, Germination, Seed handling, Planting, and Soil Conditions. My proposition to Erica was simple - I, the teacher will prepare lessons, Erica, the field teacher, was to simply talk while we were at the farm. I wanted the students to get caught into her energy, her farming vortex, her sweet spot without her being bogged down in lesson preparation.

What happened was magical. Our communities overflow with endless possibilities just waiting for us. When we engage within our community we are not following a well charted path but a path that leads to endless learning possibilities.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Day 132: May 12, 2016 Learning Group

Jesse's Art
May 12, 2016             Learning Group
Day 132

About twenty years ago a group began with seven students and one committed teacher, Helen Hertzler. She read the students, The Trumpet of the Swans, and using the content of the book led these first graders in some enriching activities. My little girl, Robyn, was one of the privileged students. Though none were aware, this was the seed that burst through the ground resulting in a beautiful plant called, The Community Homeschool Learning Group. Helen, Fern, Marla, Terri, Paula, Lynne, Jane, Joanne, Dawn, Bonnie, Marian, Tina, and Virginia, and Becky represent the beat of the group.

This group has classes that are difficult to do on one's own and Art has always been one of the exceptional classes featured at CHSLG. This year we are honored, privileged and humbled by the return of Mrs. Burke.
She loves teaching students and knows how to
lead them through the fundamentals pulling artistic
expression from their eyes through their hands.

At the end of the year's program we feasted our eyes on the students' color and expression ranging from third to eighth grade. The High School art work was missing due to the fact that it is in a gallery on display on Penn Ave. in West Reading. Friday is the opening night, please come.

Here is some of the work from the students from grades third to eight. Artistic expression is part of our blood, our DNA and exceptional teachers such as Mrs. Burke, know how to get it flowing.

The Community Home School Learning Group has served so many families over the years. What a blessing. Thank you, Helen! Thank you!

Jesse wanted to do Cactus....

Jesse's Art

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Day 131: May 10, 2016 Days to Remember

May 10, 2016     Days to Remember
Day 131

Years ago, God instilled in my heart a shift in perspective in regards to Mother's Day. It no longer was a day of expectation, those are killers, but rather a day in which I determined in my heart to be fully the Mother of the Burkholder children. It became the day my thoughts were, what was I going to prepare, plan and execute, and not what were they going to prepare, plan and execute. The shift released the vice grip and the day became enchanted, truly. The possibilities were endless and their willingness to "go there" was in the palm of my little hand for it was Mother's Day! They were going to do what ever their momma wanted. Thank you national holiday planners! Boo-yah!

Hopewell Furnace is in our backyard. What a treat and delight to have this enchanted village nestled in the expanse of the Hopewell Woods, a large tract of forest land. This place soon found itself titled a national site as it is more than a quaint village, it holds a significant spot in our American history. Go do some research on that for my point has nothing to do with briefing you but rather setting the stage for my day on Sunday. Every Mother's Day at Hopewell Furnace they shear their sheep and we go and watch.

Watching sheep shorn on Mother's Day is our gig. We howl, we coo at the baby lambs, we giggle at the sight, we feel the wool and we wander. As a collective Burkholder amoeba, we are not the type to haunt every building on site, read every word on every placard, and speak with every renactor. We deal with times and places like these in a drive through sort of way. We get in and we get out.

My grandson, Theo, was a bit concerned with the process, he needed some 'splaining. This is not abusive, this is helpful. Sadie Lynne was intrigued because everything is interesting to this little four month old. Her head must turn and twist, she must find the source of the sound, for she is on high alert.

We came in time to see Brownie- their biggest ram, shorn. We have always enjoyed watching the hair cut on this belligerent one! It is really a good show, true entertainment. One year it got "real". The sheep shearer got angry and Brownie got schooled. This ram is so stupid. Something good is being done to him and he wants no part of it. Hmmm...I am seeing some simi....nay...Let's move on.

Expectations are killers and this shift in perspective truly slayed that Mother Day dragon. Now, it is in my control. I like it that way and so far so good. We all enjoy ourselves at this gorgeous place in Pennsylvania and I offer my family myself, their mother, on Mother's Day.