Thursday, October 31, 2013

When Goodbye (for now) Comes Too Soon

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you.  Philippians 1: 2-3

I mentally began this post several times over the last two to three weeks but it is a hard one, so I've had to make myself  sit down today and write.   Three weeks ago Tuesday night, my phone rang and when I saw who it was on the screen of my phone, I uttered, "Oh no!"  Never before had I uttered those words when receiving a call from her.  Earlier that day, she had posted a message on a social media site requesting prayers for a friend whose family had been changed forever by tragedy.  Our lives and friends have been woven so beautifully together by our Heavenly Father in the tapestry He is creating that I wondered if I also knew the family of which she wrote.  I commented that I would pray and received no private message.  But when the phone rang that evening, I knew.  My dear sister friend shared the shocking news.  But first, the backstory.  
In the year 2000, our family of six left our small (less than 200 members) church home and commuted 25ish minutes across town to a larger congregation of over 800 members which subsequently grew to around 1000.  My teenage children "knew" a few kids and adults from area youth events and activities.  I knew one family from the congregation where I grew up in upper East Tennessee. We had several other connections to family and friends with other members at our new church home.   As time went by, we made friends and found a small group study in which to participate.  
I am not sure when a certain young family became part of our lives, but they did and we were blessed.  We first met the mom and two little boys.  Her second born was just a few months younger than our third born.  Her boys were born fourteen months apart; my youngest was born just two and one-half years after his next older brother.  All of that to say that our four little boys played well together and we hit it off so the play-dates began and the friendship grew.  My teenagers found her boys well behaved and didn't mind being around them at all (unlike their own little brothers.)  We spent several years as close friends, in and out of each others homes, sharing meals and time together regularly.  Her boys were always full of adventure and fun and such good boys.  Once when their mom needed some childcare help, I mentioned to the youngest that he and his brother would be coming to my house soon; he smiled his impish, beguiling smile at me and said, "Oh good Mrs. Potter, I love coming to your house!"  I told him I was glad he felt that way.  He did not miss a beat and smiling at me, he replied, "You will have candy, right?"   Okay!  So much for being loved and appreciated!

Life took some twists and turns for all of us. In 2006, we returned to our former, smaller church home as a family of four.  Our daughter had married and was living in another Tennessee town and our oldest son was also living on his own across town from us.   Our friends, the young family, visited our new (old) church home several times; but ultimately, they decided to attend a congregation nearer to their home.   As time went by, it became more difficult to spend time together due to school, jobs, their move to another county.  Life got complicated and too busy for all of us and we didn't work at keeping our friendship active and close.  After about another year, we rarely talked.  Life marched on for all of us.  Until a year or so ago, I was completely out of touch with them.  And then we found each other again through social media.  It was good to be in touch again and see how our little boys had grown into teenagers.  In spite of losing touch, we love each other and always will.  They are family, spiritually and emotionally.
Now back to the phone call a few weeks ago from another friend.  Her news was heartbreaking.  She had worked in the same office with the grandmother of those two precious boys for several years.  I would occasionally hear tidbits of news about them during that time.   The grandmother had called her the evening before this phone conversation.   The baby grandson, barely seventeen years old and for unknown reasons, had decided  that he could not endure this life any longer and he delivered his spirit into the arms of JesusIt couldn't be true!  But it was.  It is!
A couple of nights later, we went to pay our respects, show our love and support to this broken family.  The chapel was running over with people.  The dad is a police detective and the department was out in force showing their love and support.  There were parts of numerous church families what with the church home changes and the grandmother's church home.  Work, school, and church associates were all represented and it was crowded.  We eased through the long line towards that mother, father, and that brother left behind.  What on earth does one say?  And then there we were face to face.  I first hugged the father.  He didn't recognize me at first.  I mumbled how sorry I am as I hugged him.  And then face to face with my sister, we embraced one another and stood holding each other.  I murmured, "There are no words."  And that was it and that is it!  There - are - no - words!  Nothing I say or do is going to help in this situation.  I cannot comfort or ease or explain.  They can rely only on The Comforter.  
We stayed for the celebration of that young man's life and what a blessing it was to be there!  One of his friends spoke and had us all laughing and crying at the antics and the sweetness of that boy.  His youth minister shared more stories of his kindness, thoughtfulness, and care for all those around him and of the fun times they had shared.  His brother, yes, his brother (Collective Gasp), shared a few thoughts. Then his minister spoke words that wrapped it all up.  And then there were songs, beautiful songs, which I will never hear again without thinking of that young life.  I see that adorable little boy in my mind's eye asking me about candy, chocolate candy.  
His mom and I met for breakfast a couple of weeks later.  Our friendship is still strong, connected emotionally.  We have our separate lives, busyness which will be hard to overcome.  But I vow to reach out and be part of her life every few weeks or months.  There are still no words; I don't think there will ever be words.  But there is love and love never fails.  We can smile and even laugh at our shared memories of those four little boys; we can cry together over the heartbreak of a life ended too soon; we can pause, lost in thought of the sadness for that soul which in that moment felt so alone.  We can acknowledge that our lives go on but will never be the same.  And we can be inspired by that young life, lived in care and thoughtfulness for others, humor and fun, and love for everyone and every beast, to live our best lives!
We miss you Jeremy and will love you through eternity.  Until we meet again...
Pressing on in Him,

 (Jesus speaking) "and I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him: but you know Him; for He dwells with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."    John 14: 16-18

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oh Sister, Who Art Thou?

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10: 24-25

Recently, I have found myself face to face with two different Christian sisters whom I "knew" at a congregation I once attended for several years.   Both women happened to be ministers' wives.  Neither quite remembered me. 

First, you notice I have the word knew in quotes.  My meaning is that we met one another; we talked; we spoke in the hallways of the church building.  We even had common friends or acquaintances.  We had shared history at times involving third parties whom we both knew and with whom we (separately) had been close.  But we never got to be close friends.  

I found myself wondering why these women didn't remember me.  Our children were the same or close ages.  But we had a huge youth group at that congregation.  I also found myself to be decidedly not miffed by the experiences!  Praise God!  You see, IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!   It's about the Church, the family of God; most importantly, it's about the work Christ did for us in His life, His death, and resurrection and the work He is still doing in us because of our shared family time at that church. 

Because of that congregation of people, I grew as a person.   I made the choice to educate my two youngest sons at home due to the influence of people in that church and the support and friendships I was blessed with and still enjoy.  My husband and I were referred by one of those ministers to a wonderful Christian counselor who helped us save our broken marriage; we are eternally grateful for that gift!  I discovered a new outlet for writing during those years - used in script writing for children's ministry for several years both at that congregation and my current church home.  Most of all, I learned that even in a congregation of 1000+ people, there was work for me to do in God's name.  There are souls who touched my heart; there are friendships which developed, and though we rarely see one another, there is still joy and love when we reunite.  It was a place to grow in so many ways that I didn't even know I needed when circumstances took us there.  It also taught me that when you are part of the Lord's body, home is close; family is just under the steeple; it showed me a glimpse of heaven for which I long - unity, love, family.  

Lest you get the wrong idea, it was not a perfect church experience.  Far from it!   I have yet to find a perfect church on earth.  I don't think I even need to search.  I know from study of scripture that the church will be  perfected only in our heavenly home when the work of Christ has completed us and our growing in this world is finished.   Until then, please join me in singing "When We All Get to Heaven."

Pressing on in Him,


Footnote:  I noticed when reading back through this that I am using "I" a lot (just as I am in this footnote!)  Please overlook that usage and understand that the true focus here is Christ and the work He is doing and has done in me and those Christian sisters.  For though we don't know each other well, I know that God has led them both through very trying circumstances in the last few years and is blessing them both with continue growth in His work.     LSP 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Music Appreciation in our (Home) School

I am in my sixth consecutive year of educating our two youngest sons at home.      When these two boys were very young (ages 5 and 7) I had multiple sources of inspiration all in a very short period of time and was bitten by the homeschooling bug.  So we gave it a try. That was my daughter's first year out of high school, my oldest son was a high school senior in our local public high school.  The middle son was a first grader and the baby boy was a preschooler.   I believe that year has been documented in an earlier post; if not, then I will write about it one day.  

During that year, I had several naysayers in my life and I allowed myself to be convinced that the public school could enrich their young lives much more capably than I could.  So when August of the next school year arrived, back to public school went the second grader and the kindergartener was enrolled.   And we had mostly good experiences from year to year for the next four years, except for that one really bad year! (See October, 2012, Our Journey To and Through Homeschooling:  Our Year With the Drill Sergeant.)

Knowing that neither my rising sixth grader nor I were ready for the public middle school, I brought both boys back home beginning in school year 2008-2009.  We have been mostly enjoying education at home since that time. 

Having begun my own education in homeschooling during that very first year, I knew when I brought them home this time that I wanted to use the Charlotte Mason approach to our home education.   Who is Charlotte Mason you might ask.   She was a British educator who lived from January 1, 1842 until January 16, 1923.   You can read more about her here: (, here: ( or here:
(  She wrote prolifically about her ideas and findings on the education of children.

This is one of my favorite portraits of her:
Courtesy of:

One aspect of a Charlotte Mason education is music appreciation which includes hymn study, classical music and folksong study.   I had always thought of  music appreciation, artist study, handicrafts, poetry, Shakespeare, and Plutarch study as the "extras" of a CM education.  And yet about three to four years ago, I began to take hold of these areas and began to see them as some of the most important use of time in our days.  There is a peace about listening to great music (even amidst the groans of teenage boys.)  There is a beauty in the music and art that speaks to our souls when we allow it.

One of our classical pieces from this term which has become a favorite of mine can be found here: 

Prior to this term, I had heard of  Franz Josef Haydn but did not know I would love his music.  I found myself giddy the other night while on the way to the boys' volunteer work; the radio was on NPR and I heard those familiar strains of music.  I told them, "Listen!  That's Haydn.  I believe it's the concerto 104."  Okay, it was symphony no. 104.  But it was a wonderful feeling to realize that I was recognizing an artist's work!

I have a preacher friend who said a few years back that he likes to get out of the way and let God's words speak for themselves instead of always feeling the need to expound on every single passage from scripture.  That statement resonated deep within me and I began to realize that what holds true in scripture study also holds true in great art.  I don't have to have all the answers or a set "lesson."   The art is inspired by God and is for our enjoyment and to find Him through our exposure to it.  So now, we rarely discuss this symphony or that piece of art.  We just listen and look and enjoy.  

Both boys are in their high school years now.  It would be easy to skip any of these "extras" thinking that we have more important topics to cover with all the geometry, algebra, and chemistry waiting on us.  But at least four out of five days of each week, we begin with reading a chapter of scripture together and then listening to great selections of music.  We follow up with some poetry two or three days per week, some Shakespeare one day per week and a beautiful piece of art another day.   I cannot imagine a better way to begin our school days other than with these gifts of Truth, beauty, and goodness! 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Walking in Sonshine

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.   Philippians 4: 8
I have been depressed for weeks, maybe months.  For the last week or two or several, I have felt like a burden to my family and friends with my Eeyore mood walking around under my rainstorm cloud.
Over the last few days, I have been given a huge gift.  The sun (or likely, the Son) has been shining again.  I am blessed with a husband who loves me, children who are gifts from God, a loving, supportive church family, and sister friends who are family in my heart.  And I have also been blessed to find bloggers to follow who are positive, giving people who have decided that for 31 days (October) they will bless their readers with inspiring, uplifting messages.  Some are home educators; most are Christ followers; some love to share their home decor ideas; all of them inspire me in some way.  

And so suddenly, I am questioning, "Why am I depressed?"  I realize I am allowing my mind to dwell where it needs not to dwell.  My life is not perfect, nor are my relationships.  I am not perfect;  as much as I love them, I can attest that neither are my family and friends.  I have messed up some (a lot) this year.  But honestly, am I the only one?  Who hasn't messed up from time to time?  I have made my apologies.  Though they may not feel right to the receivers, I AM SORRY.  My apologies are sincere and given in love.  If others cannot or will not forgive me for being human, for making mistakes, then that becomes their problem, not mine.  I cannot, should not, dwell in that void or place of ill feelings. 

Thank you so much to the ones who have influenced my decision to walk out of the storm and to live in the Sonshine and to do what I can do.  I can only change myself and live my best life -- and that is where I am choosing to dwell -- body, mind, soul, and spirit!

I am not saying that I won't have moments or even days of downheartedness, I know I will.  That is part of life on this earth.  But I know Whom I come from and to Whom I am going and Whom I serve and that is really all I need to know to live my best life here and now.  

Pressing on in Him,


Saturday, October 12, 2013

When My Words Hurt Others

You may have noticed that I have been quiet lately.   I realized that I have become shy about sharing my words because in the last few months, they have had a stinging/hurting effect on some people I love.  

While having lunch with a young mom friend, I shared a bit of family drama in which I recently participated.  I mentioned to her that I had written a letter to the other party(ies.)  Her  immediate response was, "Oh no, not one of your letters!"  I asked what she meant.  She reminded me that she had been a recipient of one of my letters, via email, when we both had been going through trying times.  I had  blurted out to her how I felt at that moment in time about our relationship and, specifically, my diminished role in her life and the lives of her children.   May I just say that sometimes I cut off my nose to spite my face?  WHAT WAS I THINKING?  

I wasn't thinking, I was feeling!  And most of the time, I need to just keep my feelings to myself because, quite often, they are different by the next day, week, or month!   And if only I had kept them to myself, I wouldn't have hurt some other person!

I have spent the last weeks surveying the aftermath of my days of sharing my words (feelings.)  I began to see the folly of my actions and became afraid to share my words.  But through counsel from a dear friend and adviser, I have once again become motivated to share my words here in this place.  I will work hard to learn from the folly of my past and use caution while still attempting to speak the truth in love.  I will also work at discerning between the TRUTH and my feelings on the matters of my mind.

In the meantime, you might hear me singing to myself that old Vacation Bible School song, Oh Be Careful Little (Big) Mouth What You Say!

Pressing on in Him,