Monday, June 27, 2011

The passion in my heart, the fire in my soul!

I'm finding that after 40 years on this planet, no matter how fast I run, how matter how often, how long or how hard I push that ever consuming fire to the furthest reaches of my life....It comes back burning brighter, making its presence known...beckoning...."DO SOMETHING!"

Sometimes what to do EXACTLY down to the detail can be vague.  What to do generally can be an entirely different matter.

My heart, my soul, my life burns bright AND heavy burdened with thoughts of those who suffer.  Those who sleep tonight without a home, while we have a roof over our heads.  Those who went to bed hungry or were lucky enough to have maybe a meal, perhaps the first one all week...while we have our pantries and fridges stocked.  Those that have infinitely  less than I, yet I take forgranted more often than I'd like to tell you.

Weather or not one shares my faith in Christ these following principles can be understood and followed by anyone of any path.

Three things I know for sure about this longing in my heart....

1.) I know WHAT to do.
2.) I know whom I need to do it for.
3.) I know WHY I need to do it.

1.) Simply?  I want to help those less fortunate.  My heart breaks in a million pieces when I think of the homeless, those without food, without basic human needs being met in any circumstance.  So WHAT do I need to do.

Deuteronomy 15:4-11
4 There must be no poor people among you because God is going to bless you lavishly in this land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, your very own land. 5 But only if you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, diligently observing every commandment that I command you today. 6 Oh yes - God, your God, will bless you just as he promised. You will lend to many nations but won't borrow from any; you'll rule over many nations but none will rule over you. 7 When you happen on someone who's in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don't look the other way pretending you don't see him. Don't keep a tight grip on your purse. 8 No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. 9 Don't count the cost. Don't listen to that selfish voice saying, "It's almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled," and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He'll call God's attention to you and your blatant sin. 10 Give freely and spontaneously. Don't have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God's, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. 11 There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors. 

Those in need.  What I need to do is help those poor.  It's more than my duty, more than my spiritual responsibility, more than a command.  I WANT to help, I DESIRE to help.  It consumes my very being!  I WILL help!

2.) Who should I help?  Where are they?

Matthew 25:32-40
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. 35 And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 "Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? 38 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' 39 40 Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me.' 

I will help those who are the "least".  Those whom we hear people say about them:  "get a job", "junkies", "drunks", "they'd have a home if they worked", "they take advantage of people/of the system", and the list goes on.

The LEAST of these.  I'm not God, it's not my position to judge their hearts.  I'm only commanded to HELP, to feed, to cloth, to give a drink, to LOVE!  To show COMPASSION!  To show Christ's grace and mercy to a merciless world.

Just because we may not think someone is worthy, or they aren't making good choices, doesn't mean God loves them any less.  It's up to God to change hearts, not me.  I'm just here to serve the least of these.

3.)  Why?  I've had people say "you can't save the world"  [although I'd love to try!].  Or they don't really want to be helped.  Let them go hungry a few meals and they'll work.  People fail to realize that so often it takes people changing from the inside out and that my friends can take YEARS.  Years of mentoring, of counseling perhaps, or rebuilding.

Are we mentors to them, are we teachers, are we counselors?  What are we doing to HELP them rebuild?   

Things like addictions, cycles, deep wounds take years to heal.  Simply getting a job won't help.  To give up addictions means to climb out of the darkest hole one has ever been in and while I'm here to be a light, I am NOT THE light.  THE Light is what shines brighetly into that hole.  THE Light is who reaches down there with loving arms to pick them up.

I am just here to serve those in that hole.  Why you ask?

Hebrews 13:2
2 Be ready with a meal or a bed when it's needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! 

Who truly knows when it could be Christ himself that we are serving?  I don't ever want to take the chance that turned Christ away and didn't show the love HE taught me to show because I felt someone was unworthy, or taking advantage, or not worth my time.  

I desire only to serve.  I feel like I'm crying out over and over again "Here am I, send me!"  I'm ready.  Life is all around me, all around us.  People need help every hour of every day.  I pray everyday that I can hit that mark!



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fungus, field trips and volcanoes...OH MY!

It has been quite a couple of weeks for the school of Gouge!  The boys, especially David, have enjoyed being home so very much!  

I've been trying to keep them busy with a myrid of fun but educational activities.  Hey, why NOT be sneaky about it when I can? ;)

I realized that even though I would love to take them to "far off places", time and money can be a hindrance.  As I was eating dinner one night I looked out the window to a tree stump where we put bird seed to feed our local birds.  I saw 2 beautifully growing mushrooms.  It struck me that we don't have to "go" anywhere beyond our driveway.  A whole world waited just outside our door to explore!  So exploring we would do!

The next day we went on a mushroom hunt!  We started by watching some time lapse YouTube clips of various fungi growing.  The boys LOVED it!  And it was a great way for them to begin to learn the life cycle via pictorials and simplicity!  

Here are a couple of the clips we watched.

They really loved this one!
Beautiful and haunting. 

More toadstool time lapses 

Blue Oyster Mushrooms 

And then....the beauty in our own yard!

Then something even more amazing happened.  The boys wanted to continue exploring, to discover what they could, to see the world around them!

And they found, beautiful wild vines growing on our front bushes, filled with honey bees!  Wild growing purple heather flowers, wild flowers among ferns and just beauty all around them!

A couple of days later we took a field trip to a local coffee and pottery place in Lake Wales:  Beans-n-Brushes.  I let them pick out something they wanted to paint [both opted for bowls so they could eat ice cream and cereal out of them!  Go figure!]  They concentrated hard as they painted their works of art!  Here's a video clip!


The most fun part of the last couple of weeks for the boys has been our construction and eruption of Mt. Dave-Aaron!  I opted for a simple construction that both boys could do!  It's amazing what some cardboard, wood glue mixed with water, construction paper and tinfoil can do!   THEN it's even more amazing when you add food coloring, vinegar and baking soda!  

First we looked at/read some books from the library on volcanoes and watched some YouTube clips!  [Gotta love YouTube!!!].  Here's a catch little song they loved!

Volcano song 

Then the eruption of Mt. Dave-Aaron

David making it erupt 

Aaron making it erupt 

And the fun photos from pre-construction, construction and eruption!

Life is simple in our home, but it sure is filled with fun! :) 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our own one room school-house

This summer we have our own one room schoolhouse, but this thought....this action has a much deeper meaning.

There's something about history that draws me.  Pictures of ancient days...decades, generations, centuries gone by... black and white, faded...torn...all draw me in.  I wonder about the buildings.  About the people who came and went from those buildings.  

As I was looking at old one room schoolhouse photos online I came across one that was both beautiful and eerily haunting all at once.  An abandoned, almost dilapated schoolhouse.  Not much around it, just emptiness where once there had been life.

And I began to wonder again.  About the teacher or teachers that the schoolhouse had seen.  About the students who had come and gone.  About their lives, what they did, about the marriages they may have had, their own children.  If any of those descendents were living today.  And how those lives touched other lives...the ripple effect.  I wonder who became doctors, teachers, fathers, mothers, spiritual leaders....shepherding and guiding those they touched.  Every human being that has ever lived has somehow touched a life, either for the good for not.

Strange I know, but these are the thoughts I have.  I think much of the draw of history like this to me, is that fact that indeed life is but a vapor.  In the grand scheme of all of history a life span of 40, 50, 60, 70, 80+ years really is not that long to walk upon our planet.

I was then taken to the present in my train of thought, to my own children.  It became acutely clear to me, as it has before, that this is the reason I have my children.  This is the reason I have been gifted with them.  My husband and I are responsible to help our boys discover their path in life.  Help them discover the journey that they will have to embark on.   A journey that will touch many lives.  

And with that thought....a journey that touches many lives....the thought came that this could be positive or negative.  Our hope, our prayer, our direction and guiding as parents rests in the hope that the touching of lives that our children will do will be positive.  That they will make an impact on humanity for the greater good.  With love, with compassion, with mercy.

Yes, this summer, we have our own little 'one room schoolhouse'.  It's exciting and it's even more thrilling to see my sons smile, laugh and discover new things everyday.

And it is my prayer that someday, a century or two or more from now...someone may happen on an old picture of my family and know that somehow, someway this family has touched lives with grace, love, compassion and mercy and left this world a bit better than how we found it. 

The picture of the one room schoolhouse....empty...yet full of life!

And our 'one room schoolhouse'!  My sons, my heart...the future....


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Learning to Play: Lessons to learn myself!

Having watched a DVD on Unconditional Parenting, a lecture given by Alfie Kohn a wonderful discussion has followed between some of my natural parenting friends and I.  [Alfie Kohn's website: ]

One friend and myself were both saying how sometimes we as adults 'forget' how to play or don't like to play.  And it's something I've been thinking about for a great many months on my own.  

I need to play more with my children.  I need to recapture my own childhood and live it with them, along side of them.  Use my imagination again.  Lose track of time, get messy and giggle like there were no other cares in the world.

More often I find myself saying "go play while I clean...while I cook....while I do this or that..."  When in reality I could be incorporating them more into my life!  I didn't have children to fit them into my life.  I had children to grow WITH them, learn WITH them, laugh, cry, shout, whisper...all WITH them.  I didn't have children to fit them into my own mold, but to help them discover their higher purpose so that they may help their fellow man or woman. 

All too often I lose sight of that though and have to step back and remind myself.

The first step goes back to play.  Playing.  Being with my children on their level.  

As my friend and I talked we both admitted that too often we censor their imagination and play time because it's not convenient for us.  It's too dirty, too messy, too time consuming, too "childish".  

Since when was parenting ever supposed to be convenient?   When was it NOT supposed to be dirty, messy, time consuming and even childish?

And ultimately I have to tell myself I AM a parent, I signed up for this. It's not a part time thing, not a "when I feel like it"'s FULL time. I eat sleep breath it. They are mine and my husband's, they've been gifted to us to help them discover themselves in a great big world and their purpose.

People talk about children needing to respect their parents.  But I've found that if I want my children's respect, I need to earn it just as they need to earn mine.  And for me that begins with loving them unconditionally and getting 'down in the dirt' with them.  Let them know that I AM there every step of the way.  In good times, in bad.  In stressful times and happy ones!

It's time to play!  This summer as I'm finally home with them I'm concentrating on doing homeschooling activities to keep their minds working and I'm concentrating on myself.  On learning to be that child again, learning to play.

I'm going to live vicariously through this summer as we embark on some exciting journey's that will take us to the mouth of a volcano [as we make molded clay one!]....As we discover all the brilliant and beautiful colors that have been created while we make rainbow crayons...As we discover the age of dinosaurs and create a scene in a diorama!  [Thanks Ellynne D.!  ;) ]...And as we learn about the health of our bodies and eating our fruits and veggies...creating wonderful works of art with those fruits and veggies!

I'm excited to dive in, to see what the summer has in store for my children and myself!  

And I pray that I have the strength, knowledge and wisdom to lead them on a wonderful and fantastic voyage! 

[Picture: finger painting on the driveway.  Overcoming my logical brain that says "what a mess"  and telling myself  "it's all washable!  Go have fun!"]