Wednesday, June 1, 2011

From One Mom Graduating A Senior To Another

I will get to the graduation ceremony, I promise.  Actually, I'm trying to learn how to insert a video so you can see it.  But for now, I feel compelled to share with my fellow homeschool moms who are graduating one of their children.  In between the ceremony and the party on Saturday, I texted a few friends with the words, "We did it!"  A dear sister in Christ texted back, "How did you do it?"  "By God's grace" was the text length answer.  Here is the rest of the story.

I started preparing for this about a year ago.  I got real serious about it when we rang in 2011.  Yikes!  The year I've been waiting for had finally arrived.  Where had the time gone for my "little" girl?  I was blessed to be able to plan an event with 11 other homeschool families, many of them had already graduated a child, so they had innovative ideas of what to do.  I love planning parties, so that was all pretty easy.  But then, in the quiet of the morning, the thought of my baby girl launching out into the world would hit and I'd cry like the baby!  This went on for months.  Then the ladies tell me that each set of parents would prepare and read a charge for their student.  What?  Not someone calling their name and then we hand over the diploma?  We have to SAY something???  I knew we were in trouble now!  I needed to have a plan as to how to get myself under control, so I searched for the triggers of the flood of tears.

One faucet was the two empty seats that wouldn't be occupied at either ceremony - the ones of my mother and mother-in-law who both went to be with Jesus just short of her special day.  Not too many students loose two grandparents during their high school years.  We know though that Haley has made her Granny & Grandma proud.  We will continue to mourn this and many other celebrations, but not like those who have no hope.  We shall rejoice in the hope we hold.

Then I think about all the mistakes I've made.  I don't know how many times I think, "Well, if we had just done this. . . . it would've been better."  Scripture tells us that when we are weak, He is strong.  His grace has been sufficient to not only cover my mistakes, but to go above and beyond anything I could ever imagine.  When I consider how good He has been to me through her, I'm overwhelmed.  I deserve none of her accomplishments.  It's all grace - more tears!  We shall rejoice in His goodness.

It is easy to feel sad that her formal education is complete and she is prepared to leave our home and go out into this world.  Thankfully for me, I get her home at least one more year, but that doesn't mean she's not equipped with what she needs to succeed.  But I knew I reached the day of graduation with absolutely NO guilt that I wish I'd spent more time with her.  I tried to make the most of each day, training her in the way she should go, and she's ready.  This is exactly what we wanted. No regrets.  We reached our goal!  We shall rejoice in His faithfulness.

So given all this that I should be "happy" about, why would I come to the ceremony in tears?  Well, I'm a woman, and I fully understand the idea of being the weaker vessel.  We had to put some safeguards in place just to make sure I didn't become a blubbering idiot.  As the head of the house, our headmaster, and lead; Tim would have the duty of reading the charge.  He's strong.  He can handle that.  The words I chose were light and fun - words of Dr. Seuss.  Actually, I had the part from Dr. Seuss' ABC's memorized.  I did however worry about reading, "be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea."  I just kept practicing many times - slowly.  We did a photo shoot in her cap and gown a few weeks before.  This eliminated the shock of seeing her in it the first time that day.  

When we got to the end of the ceremony, I was surprised at how well I made it through.  Tim and I gave each other a high five after the final benediction and recessional.  God's grace was poured out on us big time that day.  And we will rejoice because the work that God began in Haley we are confident will be carried on to completion.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Sneak Peak at the Graduate!

We're heading to an evening of celebration, but I thought I'd share this quick picture with you.  More to come soon.  What a wonderful day it is!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


What a beautiful time we had last night at the Baccalaureate dinner for our 2011 graduates.  We are thankful for Dominique and Maureen Orsini for opening up their home to us for this special occasion.  Haley went early with her friend Catherine to meet the other graduates to prepare for the evening.  They set the table, helped cook the food, and enjoyed one another's company.
When Tim and I arrived we were greeted with hors d'oeuvres and fellowship with other families.  We were then escorted downstairs where the table was set for 11 of the graduates and their parents.  We heard words of encouragement from parents graduating their last child and a charge from Stacey Ipsan for our young adults entering the world.
A delicious dinner was graciously served by the underclassmen while we chatted with those around us about plans for the future.  After dessert and coffee were served, we had a time of praying over our graduates, thanking God for what He has done through our schooling and praying His hand on them in the future; a picture of the culmination of what we've all done over the last 18 years.  We parted with the prayer of Frances Havergai in his hymn that I'll leave this post with.

Take My Life, And Let It Be

Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love,
At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing
Always only for my King,
Always only for my King.

Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold;
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Staying Focused

I really had good intentions to write all these entries leading up to Haley's commencement.  However, unlike a school graduation where the parents show up for the ceremony - we're the ones putting it all together.  The "to do" list is a mile long and I'm trying to focus on getting it done.  There will be time when it's over to share all that has been happening.  We had a brief setback yesterday as we learned of a dear friend, Jan Harriot, going home to be with the Lord.  We press on, making the most of our days.  It's all coming together and I must say, we're quite excited!  Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dodson Dawgs

Haley & Janna on the first day of Kindergarten

When it came time for Haley to start her formal education, we felt led at the time to send her to public school.  It was the same Nashville Public School district that I taught in, so we thought we'd give it a try.  Her friend Janna from across the street was not in her class, but they were ready to start their adventure together.
Haley's Kindergarten Class

Kindergarten went well under the teaching of Ms. Libby Francis.  She improved on her reading and math skills and enjoyed all the fun activities.  Field trips included the pumpkin patch and Purity Dairy. 
Haley & Mama on a field trip

While Kindergarten was in a separate school, she moved to the main school in First Grade.  While Kelly Simpson was her teacher, she learned to love to read as she had an "Author of the Month."  She joined Brownie Girl Scouts at this time and continued making new friends.
Haley on the first day of First Grade

Haley's First Grade Class
We don't regret our public school years, as we felt that's exactly where God wanted us at the time, and He used us to reach those around us.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

From the First to the Last

First Day of Kindergarten - August 1998

Last Day Senior Year - May 2011

Ready to Take Off

Well, today's the last day for Haley to go to school.  The time has gone so quickly since we dressed her in her saddle shoes and plaid, gave her a lunchbox and new backpack, and dropped her off at Kindergarten.  Today, it was jeans, her Senior shirt, a small tote (she only has one class today), and she drove herself and Bekah.  She confessed to feeling a little melancholy as I kissed her and saw her off.  Now to finish up a few straggling loose ends before the big day arrives.

A Mother's Day Out

I remember when Haley was born thinking about how absurd it was to put children in a "Mother's Day Out" program.  I mean after all, I wanted to be a stay at home mom to be WITH my children, so why pay money to drop them off somewhere.  Then Bekah was born 19 months later.  It was not easily juggling a toddler and a newborn.  My next door neighbor sent her daughter to Mother's Day Out at a nearby church, so I decided to check it out myself.

Mrs. Judy's 2 Year Old Class

What I found was an excellent program directed by Karen Davis.  It was solid in doctrine and the ladies there were so loving and kind.  Haley was 2 when we enrolled her for the first time.  Her teacher, "Mrs. Judy" Grenley came for a home visit a few weeks before school started.  She got to know Haley in her own environment before coming to "school" the first day.  When I did take her to "school" she learned stories from the Bible, active songs that taught Bible truths, and how to sleep on a rest mat.  She got to go to the playground or play in the gym on a rainy day.  She loved "Bo and the Puppet Show" put on by Tammy Patterson.  Not only was she making friends for the first time, some of the lasting friendships I hold today started from other parents in that class.

Mrs. Susan's 3 Year Old Class

Haley then moved on to "Mrs. Susan" Campbell's 3 year old class the following fall.  She was introduced to The Donut Man, letters and sounds, and began to take field trips to the pumpkin patch and sheep farm.  While many of the same children were in her 2 year old class, she made new friends as well.  Bible stories were taught weekly and they started memorizing verses.

Mrs. Lena's 4 Year Old Class

As a 4 year old, Haley was under the instruction of "Mrs. Lena" Boyd.  She learned her "ABC's" - a verse for each letter of the alphabet complete with sign language, put on a Christmas show, took more field trips, and enjoyed Thanksgiving feasts and Valentine Tea Parties.  When she came to graduation, she was well prepared for Kindergarten.

Preschool Graduation

Graduation Day

It's hard to believe I said "never."  Involving Haley in this fine program not only exposed her to many rich and wonderful experiences, but gave me the chance to get the grocery shopping done and house picked up so I felt like a refreshed Mommy who could better serve her.  Her teachers, who were also experienced moms, encouraged me through the preschool years to teach Haley in the way she should go.

The Influence of the Local Church

In Joshua Harris' book, Stop Dating the Church, he points out among many things that the church is where God's Word should be faithfully taught and be a place where we can find and cultivate godly relationships. Most Sundays and Wednesday evenings throughout her life, Haley has been in church.

Baby Dedication - Mother's Day 1993

On Mother's Day in 1993, Haley made her first trip to church at the age of 2 weeks old.  We stood before the congregation of Dalewood Baptist Church and vowed to rear her in a home where she was taught the Holy Scriptures and be encouraged to love the Lord our God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength.  She was lovingly cared for in the nursery and read Bible stories from an early age.

Kingdom Kapers Vacation Bible School

Because of a move to the other side of town, we joined Tulip Grove Baptist Church when Haley was 3 years old.  Along with Sunday School and Extended Session, she started attending preschool choir and Mission Friends.  It was at this age that she started developing strong friendships with children that were being brought up in like-minded homes.  She continued to learn more about God and strengthened those friendships as she became involved in the children's program.  She learned how to worship through music in children's choir and music camp each summer.  Seeds were being planted that would later grow into her love for missions as she earned all 6 charms for her Girls in Action bracelet.  She was able to hide God's Word in her heart as she participated in AWANA, culminating in earning her Timothy Award, at the same time as being a 3 year State Winner Superior in Children's Bible Drill.  Her summers continued this growth and cultivated friendships through Vacation Bible School, Centri-Kid, and Terrific Tuesday activities.  Before moving to Louisville, Haley enjoyed a brief time in the youth, enjoying the challenge of youth choir, Acteens, and youth Bible Study.  Involvement in these activities gave Haley a strong foundation to later build her faith.

C-Group led by Tricia Latham

Moving on to Louisville, we joined Ninth and O Baptist Church.  Shortly after we came, they were without a youth minister.  However, several young men training at Southern Seminary to be youth pastors stepped in to make sure there was no lag in growing these young people for the Lord until Rene Gomez took over the position.  She was given solid teaching from the pulpit; challenging, but understandable at the same time.  While Haley believed for a long time that Jesus was her Savior, it was during our time at Ninth and O that she made the decision for Him to be her Lord and was baptized.  She was discipled through small groups  by caring adults like 3D (Developing Deeper Disciples) and C-Groups.  She enjoyed fun activities like MGM, Student Life camps, Centri-Fuge, and Wednesday night worship.  She was given the opportunity to serve not only in the children's department, but became a sought after worker in the nursery.  She especially enjoyed loving on the young babies while their moms went to Thursday morning Bible study.  Her interest in missions was watered and cultivated as she worshipped regularly with those training for the mission field, and later took a foreign missions trip herself to Ecuador.  Strong friendships were bonded during this time as these young people encouraged one another to pursue holiness.

Senior Banquet 2010

 A move to Northern Virginia landed us at Woodlawn Baptist Church.  Here Haley is growing through concepts learned in Sunday School, congregational worship, and Wednesday night youth group.  She serves monthly in the nursery, and ministers to many of the young families by babysitting outside of church.  She's enjoyed afterglow activities on long weekends, the Senior banquet, and had a great time at camp last summer.

As Haley is now a young adult, we are thankful for the influence the local church has had on her upbringing.  While we have always believed it is our responsibility to train our children in the ways of God, having others come alongside us to encourage and offer expertise in areas that we're weak had been a huge blessing.  It is now our prayer that she will always be involved with the body of Christ for continued growth, accountability, and service.

Monday, May 16, 2011

AWANA Awards

As it appears that Haley is getting all the applause lately, our other children are doing things to make us proud as well.  Over the last four years, Hunter has been involved in the Truth and Training Clubs of the AWANA program.  He started off at Ninth and O and finished up at Woodlawn.  During that time leaders have encouraged him to work through four books, learning key truths, memorizing scripture, and encouraging daily Bible study.  He got off to a slow start, but finished strong to earn his Timothy Award, the highest award of the TNT program.  As the TNT director, I was also privileged to hand out another Timothy Award to Jessica Edwards.  She is my beautiful, young sister in Christ.  All of the children involved worked hard to earn a total of 12 book awards, including Holly, who earned her Excellence Award.  I am excited to see what God is doing in all of their lives.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Senior Prom

Well, homeschoolers in Tennessee and Kentucky have opportunities for a prom experience.  We haven't quite found that here in Virginia.  Last year our church held a nice Senior Banquet which made a sufficient substitute.  This year, well, Haley and Bekah were about the only high schoolers so it didn't happen.  So they start talking to their friends in Louisville and decide that we should go there.  After much consideration, we agreed.  It was supposed to be a wonderful evening - a cruise on the Belle of Louisville.  Then a dark cloud began to shadow of the night to remember.  The rains came down and the floods came up and the cruise on the Ohio River was cancelled!  We had only days to throw something together.  We decided on dinner at the Olive Garden followed by bowling.  It's the perfect ingredients for a Tim Hawkins song, but a good time was had by all.  I can't say enough about the fine group of young people we were with.  A time for young men to be true gentlemen and young ladies to be princesses.  Dinner was delightful, bowling was a blast, and what would the night be without being topped off with Krispy Kreme and a cup of coffee?  While it wasn't the typical high school prom, it certainly was "A Night to Remember."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Put Off Boasting & Conceit; Put On Humility

Romans 12:3  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly that he out to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (ESV)

Psalm 25:9  He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way. (ESV)

Lord, help me to realize that I am nothing but dust.  Only through You have I been given the breath of life. I entered this world with nothing, and with nothing will I leave.  I thank You for the one thing that will last forever, the salvation of my soul from sin, and the promise of eternal life with You.  Everything I have here on earth belongs to You.  You give, and You take away.  Blessed be Your name.  Help me to be a good steward of the resources You have blessed me with, using them to advance Your kingdom.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Inspired by resources from Life Action Ministries

Monday, February 14, 2011

Put Off Pride; Put On Humility

Proverbs 16:5  Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. (ESV)

James 4:6 But he gives more grace.  Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."  (ESV)

Lord, I realize pride is one of the biggest struggles in my life.  Most sins are born out of this one; selfishness, impatience, discontentment, jealousy, and anger.   Help me to think less of myself, my desires, and my ways.  Help me to lay down my pride before I get to the point of destruction.  Give me a humble spirit seasoned with Your grace.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Inspired by resources from Life Action Ministries.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hunter is 12!

Yes, now that it is past 4:21 pm, the boy is officially 12 years old.  He's growing taller, wearing a bigger shoe, growing a little facial hair, and really needing the Axe!  However, he still loves his toys, adventures outdoors, and aggravates his sisters regularly.  He's the perfect example of a "tween."  For the first time in several years his birthday was not altered with snow.  He wished to have an evening of "boy time" with Zachary, a friend from school.  As he turned 12, he received his "rite of passage" gift, a cell phone.  Daddy also got him an electric scooter and the Lego Ninjago dojo.  He was also blessed with gifts from family and friends as well.  He has had a wonderful day and we're thankful to spend it together as a family.

Lego Store!

Occasionally the home schoolers at our church get together and go on a field trip somewhere.  My friend Amy organized one to go to the Lego store.  Our kids sure were excited about that as the LOVE the Lego store!  Our leader, Jamie shared interesting information with us about Legos.  The kids were able to make their own creations, make a skier to take home, and got a free key chain.  Of course, there was shopping time when they were done.  While not official, we take trips to the Lego store quite frequently.

Put Off Selfishness; Put On Self-denial

Philippians 2:21  For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

John 12:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Lord, help me to see this world from Your perspective and not my own.  Help me to align my desires with Yours, as many of mine are of this world.  As I die to my selfish wants, may I consider others better than myself and bear much fruit for Your glory.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Inspired by resources from Life Action Ministries

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Put Off and Unforgiving Spirit; Put On a Forgiving Spirit

Mark 11:25  And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you and your trespasses.

Colossians 3:12-13  Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Lord, I know I have offended others with the things I have done.  I know I have offended You with my sin.  You chose to forgive me, giving Your life for me; the least I can do is forgive others in the same way.  When it's hard, be my strength, for I can not do this on my own.  In Jesus' name, Amen.  

Inspired by resources from Life Action Ministries.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Put Off Bitterness; Put On a Tenderhearted and Forgiving Spirit

Hebrews 12:15  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

Ephesians 4:31-32  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Lord, bitterness is a hard sin to beat, especially when continually being hurt.  The difficulties of continuous forgiving can be burdensome, allowing the roots of bitterness to take hold.  Expose the areas of bitterness in my heart that may have been dormant for a while.  Only through you, can I forgive others.  Help me to be kind to others.  Help me to see others the way they see themselves as well as how You see them so that I can be more tenderhearted.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Put Off Judging; Put On Let God Search My Heart

Matthew 7:1-2  Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (ESV)

John 8:7-9  And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."  And once more He bent down and wrote on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. (ESV)

John 15:22  If I had not come and spoken to them they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.  (ESV)

Lord, please help me not to judge others.  Help me to consider my own actions and stack them against Your Word.  Search me, and know my heart.  Try me and know my thoughts.  Find all the faults in my life and lead me back to You.  Give me a discerning heart toward others, but let me see everyone as a creation of You with a soul that will never die.  Help me to give the gavel back to You.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Inspired by revival resources from Life Action Ministries

Monday, February 7, 2011

Put Off Lack of Love; Put on Love

1 John 4:7-8  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (ESV)

1 John 4:20  If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (ESV)

John 15:12   "This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you." (ESV)

Lord, show me areas in my life where I don't love others like I should.  Help me to be patient, kind, humble, and prefer others better than myself.  Identify ways that I can show love to those who are difficult to love.  I realize I can't do this on my own, but only through the love that You have shown to me in Jesus and Him giving his life for me.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Happy New Year

I know, it's a little late.  My goodness, the Super Bowl has already been played and we're heading into Valentine's Day.  I'm curious as to how many resolutions have already been broken.  Now that the hype from the "I'm going to do things differently in 2011" has settled, I'm adding a new dimension to my quiet time.  I have some friends who are also interested, so I thought maybe this long dormant blog would be a good place.  I have some friends who use Facebook, some only e-mail.  This would work for both.  And of course after I learn how to upload pictures from my MacBook (for some reason it wont), I'm also going through old pictures and archiving them on my hard drive so I hope to sprinkle those on here too.  Pray I persevere.  It's all about forming new habits.
Anyway, this will come from a publication from Life Action Ministries.  We have been blessed to attend two of their revivals while living in Nashville.  I put their materials out from time to time when I need a tune up.  This is one of those times.  It lists a sin that you "put off" and a virtue that you "put on."  I'll add the given scriptures and some thoughts of my own.