Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Let your gentleness be evident to all

It's a simple verse:

"Let your gentleness be evident to all" - Phil 4:5

But it can transform your life if you let it.

This is the verse that I have been meditating on as I go for walks around our community these days. We are getting ready to leave New Mexico. So, as I walk, I reflect on my time here in small town Portales and what this community has instilled in me.

I grew up in Chicago in an unstable home. So, being kind and friendly was not really my strong suite. I tend to be sarcastic and assume the worst intentions in people. Yet, I have softened so much in the 3.5 years that I have lived here.

It is hard to stay grumpy and negative when you are constantly greeted with a smile and genuine interest with each new person you meet. People here are so encouraging and eager to help.

I hope I don't lose the gentleness this town has cultivated in me once I leave here. I hope that part of this town stays with me forever.

It is no coincidence, then, that this is the verse that came to me when I decided to put a new verse in my heart during my walks.

Since I have started chewing on these simple words, I have met many of my neighbors and had the opportunity to be a positive impact in their days. In this stressful negative world, I hope it is as refreshing for them as it is for me to see the smiles a simple conversation can bring.

What would your day look like if you based it on the theme of this verse? How would your children grow from your example? Try it out and tell me in the comments below!



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

10 Ways To Live Peacefully

The purpose of this blog is to demonstrate how to live a peaceful life. The best way that I know how to do this is to approach each interaction with honor and respect. So, the next Top Ten Tuesday list will focus on living peacefully. I just want to share what that looks like in my life. Here are ten relationships that are important for mothers to approach peacefully.

10. Live peacefully with the world
        I have tried to touch on this in my top ten series about moms getting involved in national issues. Many people would say that it isn't peaceful to stir up these issues. My concern is that these issues are going to create a world that is chaotic for our future generations. I want to see change on these topics for our future. I do believe in doing this peacefully. That is why I try not to sling slanted facts and prefer to share my experiences and appeal to those reading with my story.
  9. Live peacefully with your community
         As mothers, we have tremendous influence in our communities to make change and to do good. I want to explore those opportunities. Check out my latest post about cultivating peace in your community.
  8. Live peacefully with other moms
         There seems to be a never-ending mommy war going on these days. If we are going to bring peace into the lives of those around us, it will have to start by standing together.
  7. Live peacefully with your body (and your children's bodies)
          I have touched on this as well, but I hope to share more of my story in the coming weeks. I really believe that we need to start taking a look at what we are eating if we have a hope for having a healthy future generation (or grandchildren at all, for that matter)
  6. Live peacefully with your extended family
         This one is hard for me. I seem to be the odd one out and I am very passionate/firm about my stance on many things. I am still learning how to do this gracefully.
  5. Live peacefully with your family unit
          It is one thing to be a gentle parent and a loving wife, but sometimes having everyone together can be a bit mind-numbing. I will be sharing how my family builds a peaceful foundation in our home.
  4. Live peacefully with your children
          This is so important. The only way to do this is to have a moral compass that everyone uses to guide them. The guidepoint of that compass should be love and peace, which we have to model for our children. Stay tuned to learn about my compass and some of our tips and tricks.
  3. Live peacefully with your spouse
          Man this is hard, luckily the Bible gives some great guidelines about this....or does it? I will let you know what I mean in the coming weeks!
  2. Live peacefully with yourself
         So, so, so important. But, it doesn't look the same for everyone. Some of us are not the "mommy time" type. Find out what "mommy time" looks like for someone who hasn't left her kids with others in 2 years (no, you don't have to be crazy like me, but if you are, it's ok! You can still find a way to keep it together :)
  1. Live peacefully with God
           Remember that moral compass? Hint, hint, He is mine ;) The best part is that He offers so much more than that. In fact, it is the least of His concerns. I am learning grace through him daily and the Bible promises that he will give "peace that surpasses all understanding" to those who petition for it. I would not have peace without His grace.

We will dig deeper into how to apply these ideas in the coming weeks! Stay tuned I hope you enjoy.




Thursday, March 26, 2015

Can Ted Cruz Do The Job

Just a few days ago, Senator Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for the presidential office. Many Tea Party supports are glad to hear this because of his consistent efforts to stand up to the left wing spending spree.

Although I am intrigued by Senator Cruz, I am not yet convinced that he is the man for the job.

It will come as no surprise that, amidst all the finger pointing, it is actually BOTH parties who are to blame for the national budget crisis we are facing. In my research into this topic, I found that the main cause for unnecessary government spending seems to be the result of promises to other politicians and lobbyists.

Shocking I know!

The other concerning issue is the increased line of spending for healthcare in the national budget. More people are on medicaid and more people are getting needless procedures when options that are both less expensive and less invasive are available. Requiring those simpler options would save the government and taxpayers a significant amount of money.


Once again, that wouldn't go over well on capitol hill because of the many people on staff from Big Pharma backgrounds.

We need someone who can unite congress in an attempt to get this budget under control. We need someone who will engage congress instead of telling them what to do as the last two presidents have dictated.

Can Ted Cruz do this? Maybe...

He has had a fair amount of legislation go through with by-partisan support. He is committed to empowering congress.

Unfortunately, this is not the stance he is taking. He is spending a lot of time talking about his accomplishments. I understand that he is doing this to point out that, even though he is only a first term senator, he is very capable. But, please, just let the record speak for itself.

I don't want another President who is so keen to push his agenda that he bullies congress into doing his bidding. That will only create more needless programs and needless spending and prevent congress from uniting to deal with issues already at hand.

As I already mentioned last week as part of the top ten series on the need for moms to address government issues, we need team players in congress.

If we want team players, we need a team leader.

Do you think Senator Cruz can do it?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and share this post so that we can get his attention and show him what really matters to us!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Congress Grid-Lock Is Endangering Lives

In my last post, Why Your Child Probably Isn't At Risk As A Sex-Trafficking Victim, I shared how sex-trafficking is endangering the lives of American girls who you may know and love.

This next post in my series, Top Ten Ways to Address National Issues, is addressing how congress grid-lock is preventing powerful bills from passing and securing a safer future for our beautiful children.

When I generated this list, I was not aware that there would be an ensuing battle over a sex-trafficking bill. Now, I am even more concerned about the way congress is handling national matters.

In an article written just two days ago by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, he shares his passion for the issue and the need to protect the people of Florida. Unfortunately, other congressmen are preventing this bill from going anywhere because they are determined to have it both ways.

It is frustrating to see the democratic party point fingers and blame republicans for putting stipulations into their bill that supports their point of view. After all, why would you work so hard to free women and children from bondage only to murder future women and children, creating more pain in an already heart wrenching situation. Republicans want to draw the moral line and make it known that America stands for what is right.

It is also frustrating to watch republicans pretend they have no other agenda. They knew the addition to the bill would aggravate Democrats. So, why not have an upfront conversation about it rather than put up your hands and blame the other party for not doing their do-diligence.

Why does it have to be every man for himself? Since when was watching out for ourselves and shouldering all of the work on our own the most efficient way to accomplish anything. If anything is going to get done, it is going to take a team effort.

How can WE fix this problem? Start by taking an active role in who is voted into these positions. For that matter,

VOTE!







Senators have a key role in our government. Don't overlook them. I started this series because the mid-term elections were at hand. If more people had taken the time to sort out the issues and put their support behind the right candidate, we may have people in office who were there to work.

There is another election coming. 2016 will not only be a presidential election, it will also be another opportunity to get senators into office who know how to get the job done.

Now is the time to gather information and decide who to support. Jump into your local and state politics. Take a look at what is really going on.

Who is doing the work?

What bills are on the floor?

What bills are being ignored? Why are they not moving anywhere?

Write to your congressmen.

Go to events. Meet them! Tell them what you think. And watch them.

It is YOUR job to watch them. They won't do it for you. So keep your eyes on every move. Because come election time, you shouldn't vote for their platform--you should vote for them. Vote based on their voting history and community involvement.

Lets put people in congress who are voting, not fighting!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Why your child probably isn't at risk as a sex-trafficking victim


OK, you caught me! I am leading you in just a BIT with that title. The truth is, all children are at risk to some degree because we live in a fallen world.

BUT, some kids are at far greater risk. If you are the sort of mom who reads blogs while her kids are napping and you are sneaking some chocolate, you kid probably isn't one of them. You are probably engaged and involved in your child's life. That greatly diminishes your child's likelihood of being abducted.

Sadly, there is a whole group of kids out there whose parents are not engaged. How can we protect them?

My last post in this top ten thread was about the need for women to unite to use our unique gifts to increase the peace and love in our world. While this is fresh in our minds, I want to talk about something very serious in woman's and children's rights today.

Human-Trafficking

"Human-trafficking is a form of modern slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others." (http://www.polarisproject.org/)

Many people work very hard promoting programs to get people involved in changing the lives of the less fortunate. But, do any of us really have room for another program in our over-scheduled lives? I have come to learn that programs are not the most effective method of reaching any person for an reason.

The most effective method for changing lives is to reach out to the people around you--let go of some of those things in our schedules so that we can make time for people. Or, better yet, a person. You can make a lasting impact if you focus on a select few. Jesus understood that. It is the reason he spent all of his time with those 12 men. Maybe 12 people is still too much for you. Instead, can you do just one?

I want to tell you about one person whose life was saved from sex-trafficking. I hope it will inspire you to get involved in someone's life today.

If you saw her in the store, you would think she was just another rebellious teenager--trying to hard to stand out wearing wannabe punk-rocker clothes. She often didn't smile and had an air of superiority about herself.

She is one you wouldn't be surprised to see on a missing person's poster. Probably a runaway. Or maybe too deeply involved with drugs. She should have made better choices.

What you didn't see was what happened in her home. As the only child to a single, mentally unstable woman, she took care of herself. She spent her days reading books and watching animal planet since her mother didn't send her to school. She often missed meals and was always sick because her mother didn't have any real income or the self discipline to clean.

Worse than that were the men. Her mother depended on men to provide for her. The type of men who take advantage of vulnerable women. The particular man they were living with at this time was very violent.

Out of fear, the girl started reaching out to anyone who would listen. The man's boss was nice. He always did nice things for her. Bought her things and offered to "get her out of there."

She wasn't a fool. She knew what that meant. It was so bad here that nothing could be worse in her mind. Of course, she had never even kissed a boy, let alone had sex. So, she couldn't even begin to understand.

Thankfully, this girl also reached out to the police. They did nothing at first. But, one day the neighbors finally called. The police took the girl away. She bounced around in foster care.

But, finally, she landed with an amazing family who loved her through her rebellion. They took her to their church. The people in that church loved her too. They even trusted her and gave her opportunities to learn and grow in character. She started helping out and searching for ways to meet the needs of others. She graduated high school and went on to college. She is now raising a family of her own.

What would have happened if just one of those people had not reached out? I would not be writing this blog today. I would have had a much different fate. I would have traded one hell for another.

So, before you decide that a child or teen is beyond your ability to impact, please just stop. Do SOMETHING. It doesn't have to be big. Maybe it is just a smile. Maybe it is letting a comment slide by. Maybe it is a call to the police.

Just please remember that you could be the one to turn a child's life around. You don't need an organization or the government to do it for you. Look around and see what you can do today.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Right Start Math vs. Montessori Math

As requested on a recent thread on the Montessori Homeschool Facebook Page (run by Bess Wuertz, writer over at http://www.graceandgreenpastures.com/), I am going to share my experience using Right Start Math verses Montessori Math.

In may of last year, my husband and I both found ourselves out of work. Because of this circumstance, the money I had set aside for all those beautiful Montessori math manipulatives went toward living expenses. Luckily, I had already purchased the Right Start Math Level A lesson book for the purpose of playing the games and singing the songs during circle time or just for fun. Taking a second look at it from a teaching perspective, I initially thought that this would be a good fit for us. Beyond just saving us money, I thought that it seemed to follow a similar scope and sequence to Montessori and would be easy to build knowledge one lesson at a time. The fact that there were many manipulatives to start with was very important to me.

As we got started, I found that lessons one through eight are set up to teach the right start method. They begin by introducing the quantity of three using objects, fingers, and tally sticks. Each day adds a number and a material. By lesson 9 we had discovered the tally sticks, abacus, pattern materials, ordering strips, and bead cards.

At this point, I was still very excited about the Right Start program. I loved that the materials were presented in a precise manner, similar to a Montessori lesson. However, as we got into the meat of the material, my enthusiasm quickly dwindled.

Here are a few of the things that made me uncomfortable:


  • The materials are really one dimensional and do not allow for exploration of concepts. Many of the materials serve to illustrate the lesson and do not have enough substance to be explored further if chosen as an independent work. 
  • The lessons are entirely teacher driven. So, each lesson builds on the previous ones. Therefore, the materials only need to serve the purpose of the lesson rather than need of the child to explore the concept behind the lesson. It serves more as an illustration than a true manipulative. 
  • The child will not need to explore it alone, so it doesn't need a control of error. This is a key component to Montessori manipulatives. Control of error enables a child to quickly recognize an error and correct it. Again, this allows the materials to be used more as an illustration than a manipulative which fosters mastery of a material through repeated use. 
  • The material themselves do not isolate concepts. This is my favorite part about Montessori materials. The isolation of concepts sometimes seems overly obvious. But, it allows for each concept to be clearly defined before combining them for more complicated work. Right Start appears to have tried to apply this concept by isolating specific concepts in the beginning lessons. However, even those isolated lessons are being presented in an abstract fashion as the materials are often not three dimensional. 
  • The materials are much less tatical than Montessori materials. There are many cards and the tally sticks are flat. Even the abacus is very limited in it's use. On the other hand the colored bead materials, geometric solids, and golden bead work are all three dimensional and interconnected. 
  • The lessons bounce between multiple concepts in a matter of only 15-20 minutes. This does not allow time for the child to concentrate on their work and move through initial mental blocks into mastery. I am sure you can guess what I am going to say about that: without time to concentrate independently with the material, the tools become an illustration rather than a math manipulative.
For me, these major differences really turned me off from the program as a main teaching tool. My kids had fun playing the games and singing the songs together. But, they were not drawn to the material to explore it beyond the lesson--even when I placed it on the shelf. This was very discouraging to watch. Especially given that my daughter had always shown a special love for math and seemed to acquire the concepts easily when we were using only Montessori materials.

I ultimately stopped using Right Start when we came to the part/whole circle lessons. We started with tally sticks in the circles as the lesson dictated and gradually moved toward using only numbers, checking our work with the abacus. She seemed to understand the ideas during the lessons.

Then, one day, we were counting the days until Christmas using our countdown snowman. She knew that our goal was to get to day 25! On day 18, she put the new number up and I asked how many  days remained until Christmas. She struggled with her fingers and said "ughhhh! I DON'T know!"

Not wanting this moment to end in defeat, I said "lets try it using the part/whole circle!" Surely the visual would help the idea click. I put 25 in the larger "whole" circle. Then I asked, "how many days has it been since the beginning of December?" She takes a minute to look at the snowman before saying "18!" I then responded, "So, what is our first part?" ........................................Well this wasn't going well! Time for mom to help, "18, lets put 18 over here. Lets use the abacus to see how many more we need to make 25." I then set 18 up on the abacus, showed her 18 and then asked her to count up to 25. She got to 20 and became confused when it was time to start counting the next line. At this point she is at the brink of tears. She knows this should be simple, but she can't make sense of the tools.



I pulled out her number cards and let her build numbers to forget about the botched lesson. Then, a little later, I pulled out her beads and asked her the same problem. She did it quickly, exchanging ones for a ten bar as she progressed. Easy peasy. Then came that confident smile I know!

I honestly did not expect something like counting on an abacus to be so difficult for a child compared to the golden bead materials. Yet, Dr. Montessori understood how concret these beginning math concepts needed to be for a young child to fully grasp their complexities. She also understood the need for the child to explore the work. One reason I was drawn to Right Start for Kindergarten was that I was not confident in my own teaching ability. I thought that teacher-led lessons would be best to be sure that all the right material was being covered. Instead, I almost ruined my daughter's love for math.

There are two reasons that I think Right Start didn't work for us. One, it does not invite the child to explore the work. Two, it doesn't provide enough exposure to the materials. The reason Montessori materials are so successful is because they draw the child in with their beauty, simplicity, and an innate sense of how they work. This leads the child to explore them over and over again, familiarizing them with the work and instilling their use as second nature.

Ultimately I was disappointed about Right Start math because it is marketed as Montessori Materials adapted for classroom use. However, I don't believe that it contains enough of the components of a true montessori lesson/work to serve this purpose. I do like it as an aid to teaching concepts during circle time. The games and songs are very engaging and some of the materials present the initial concepts in intriguing ways. But, they don't have the breadth to guide the child toward mastery.

If you would like to know more about what key components make up a Montessori work, please visit this link saved in my Montessori pinterest album

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/355643701800452338/

This post will be followed by a youtube video comparing the two sets of materials to give a sense of what I mean.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnL-l1b929I&feature=youtu.be


Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Case For Play Based Learning

Last night, doped up on coffee. I posted this comment on the Montessori 101 Facebook page in a response to a discussion about whether Montessori learning is aligned with common core standards:

"The scope and sequence [of common core] IS better IF the child has had the correct exposure in the 3-6 years and has been given the correct tools in lower elementry to be successful. But, that isn't how common core works. They are trying to fit a montessori-esque scope and sequence into a standardized testing schooling format. Those two ideas go completely against each other because montessori isn't measured by tests, but demonstration through concrete experiences. There is a greater push by the government to have stronger ECE programs [that will] off-set this issue. But, do kids really need to be in school at that age if they have loving parents at home guiding them through these years (no offense to parents who work outside of the home, just saying it isn't necessary to make it a national standard when not all kids need it You all are hard workers, you rock, and you keep me in business as I have an in home learning center!)."
Dr. Maria Montessori explained it best: 

"The secret of success is found to lie in the right use of imagination in awakening interest, and the stimulation of seeds of interest already sown by attractive literary and pictorial material, but all correlated to a central idea, of greatly ennobling inspiration – the Cosmic Plan in which all, consciously or unconsciously, serve the Great Purpose of Life." (To Educate the Human Potential, p. 3)

My point was that there is not anything necessarily wrong with the sequence of common core. Rather, the issue is with the method being used to instill those concepts. 
Dr Montessori explained that a child's play and everyday experiences is the work of a child. At this age, their work is really about forming their ideas of the world and bringing context to experiences that have value to them.

 "But the child too is a worker and a producer. If he cannot take part in the adult's work, he has his own, a great, important, difficult work indeed - the work of producing man… The child's work belongs to another order and has a wholly different force from the work of the adult. Indeed one might say that the one is opposed to the other. The child’s work is done unconsciously, in abandonment to a mysterious spiritual energy, actively engaged in creation. It is indeed a creative work; it is perhaps the very spectacle of the creation of man, as symbolically outlined in the Bible." (Dr. Maria Montessori, 'The Secret of Childhood', Orient Longman Limited, 200)

 Unbeknownst to many, children are just like the rest of us in that, if an idea is not relevant to their lives, they do not work to retain that information. Children do not use geometric terminology or diagram sentences in their everyday lives. This implies that they don't have any context to enable them to apply those concepts. Instead, we should take their lead in guiding what is valuable to their learning experience.

 “Directing our action toward mankind means, first and foremost, doing so with regard to the child. The child, that ‘forgotten citizen’, must be appreciated in accordance with his true value. His rights as a human being who shapes all of mankind must become sacred, and the secret laws of his normal psychic development must light the way for civilisation.” (Education and Peace) 

It is still important to expose younger children to these ideas as their synapses are forming at a faster rate during this phase of development, allowing the content longer to develop and take root.  With this knowledge, it made sense to Dr. Montessori to develop a learning environment that would naturally lead to the acquisition of these skills. She did so through hands on experiences that allowed for concrete connections to be made using materials that were relevant to the child. She did not see an applicable need for standardized testing.

"My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams and proceeding from secondary school to University but of passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity and effort of will." (From Childhood to Adolescence, opening)
That is why I was so excited to see this article that has been circulating the blogosphere today. One public school has recognized the need for children to create their own learning experiences. They are doing what they can to allow the students that attend their school to have the freedom to create their own learning experiences. This is so important for building up life-long learners. I am very sad to see that many parents are not pleased with this new policy. Lets get behind this school and show our support for this school's new no-homework policy!


http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150305/kips-bay/elementary-school-dumps-homework-tells-kids-play-instead
 P.S. 116's principal announced that students will no longer be assigned traditional homework.





If you want to discuss more about topic like this, join me over at my new facebook page!
https://www.facebook.com/chaosforkisses?ref=hl

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dr. Maria Montessori: The anti-feminist, feminist


Today, everything  seems to be a war of extremes. We paint our world in black and white, adjusting the shades of gray along the way.

Such is the case with feminism vs. anti-feminism. Feminists seem to think that all women who do not agree with them are 50's era wanna-be's who spend their days cleaning and hosting dinner parties. Likewise, many anti-feminists are under the impression that all feminists burn their bras and cut their hair short.

In the past , social change had a different tone—at least the way the history books paint it. People saw the problems of their time and advocated for changes that would make the world a better place for everyone—at least as far as they could see. It seems that their efforts were focused on creating real, measurable changes that could be implemented by most people.

Name-calling and generalizing is not what ended western child labor or gave women the right to vote. Getting involved and helping the underprivileged gave those people the strength to fight back.

In that time, women's rights had purpose: To allow women to reach their full potential without being told to stay in one box that dictates the same talents for all women. Thank God there were people in the world who fought for those rights! It is what allows me to write my thoughts, wear these pants, pursue my education, and vote for someone who can help facilitate the changes I want to see (if such a person ever decides to run). It allows me to explore all of my potential in contributing to my family through my uniquely designed talents.

BUT, it does not give me the right to neglect my civil and family duties to pursue whatever I want. Many women today have rejected the idea of family and service to others, especially the men in their lives, in favor of their individual pursuits.

This is alarming because women were not designed to be alone and on top of the world. We were designed to participate in a partnership that raised up the next generation to be better than their own. How are we to do that if we are too busy chasing all of the things we don't have?

I believe that feminism was originally intended to strengthen the natural role of women rather than reject it.

On the other side of the coin, many women are so insulted by the idea of rejecting their natural design, that they try to stuff themselves back into that one-woman, perfectly manicured box. They chant Proverbs 31 as if it were the only scripture to live by. (I have news for you ladies. That scripture doesn't mean what you think it does. In fact it is far more feminist then you might like to think. Go back and read it again. Chew on that for a while and stay tuned, because I will be addressing this verse in one of my upcoming posts.)

By polarizing ourselves like this, we are taking everything those women fought for and destroying it! They were fighting to unite women and give them a voice to make change. Instead, we spend our time bickering and trying to elevate ourselves above one another.

Both sides need to draw inspiration from the pioneers of the past to unite us once again. There have been so many amazing women. But, the one who has impacted me more than any other, is Dr. Maria Montessori.

Not only was she a strong woman who pioneered the fields of medicine and psychology at a time when it was dominated by men, but, she went on to dedicate her life to the service of children. She did both with a sense of wonder and grace.

Her compassion and desire for peace was the foundation of her being. It motivated every decision she made. No obstacle was too much for her to overcome. She worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others. It is beautiful to read about and to see revealed in her legacy. She is truly an inspiration to all women and caregivers as to the power of investing in the souls of our young.

Yet, her work did not come without a price. Although she was very privet about the circumstances surrounding the birth of her son, Mario, I believe that it brought her great pain. I think that she fell victim to vulnerability through her natural desire as a woman to feel loved. No matter how much of herself she gave to the world, she still longed to be loved. So, foolishly, she entered an unwed relationship that led to the birth of a beautiful baby boy. I imagine, given her love for children, that there was nothing more she wanted than to watch and observe her own son as he progressed through his young life. Alas, she was deceived again. She bought into the lie that focusing on her work was her best service to the world. So, she left him in the care of others. When she was finally reunited with her son, she spent the rest of her life working to repair that relationship and prevent other women from having to do the same.

Her ambition clouded her judgment. To begin with, it put her in a state of desperation to seek out that expression of love. Beyond that, it caused her to miss out on valuable moments bonding with her own son.  This is the danger of ambition if it is not tempered with the knowledge that women have a naturally designed  purpose. If we deny that design, then we will seek it in unhealthy relationships or miss the tremendous joy that only a mother knows.

Thankfully, Dr. Montessori had an opportunity to redeem those lost moments when her son reached out to her. Although it was an awkward adjustment, she grew deeply close to her son and used her experiences to influence the lives of women around the world as they carried out their most important task—mothering.

Why do I focus on the shades of gray in the story of an amazing woman like Dr. Montessori? It is the shades of gray truly inspire me. She used every experience to grow and to pour herself out into the world. How much can we learn from that example!

So, today, instead of trying to be the perfect wife and mother or the most successful woman in a man's world, stop and acknowledge yourself. ALL of you: the caregiver and nurturer, the world-changer, the gentle spirit, and the explorer. Look at the women around you. Acknowledge and appreciate them for their unique gifts. Finally, learn from your mistakes. Don't force everything to be black and white. Let them bleed into the gray and adjust what you can to make yourself and the world a better place.

Together, we can honor God and the legacies of women like Dr. Montessori by devoting our gifts to each other and the world. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a wall street executive, let your work give meaning and focus to the world. Don't be "a resounding gong." (1 Cor. 13:1)


How GMO products have impacted my family


There is already so much information from both sides on this topic. I used to spend way too much time analyzing the so-called facts on this subject. I wanted to be sure I was making the right decisions. It was very important to me to have information ready to defend my decisions.

That was the problem in my logic. I had already made the decision based on experiences in my own life. Why did I need skewed evidence to prove my point to someone who wasn't even interested in my own well being?

The truth is that there is a lot of fact-slinging coming from both directions. It can be a lot to wade through. If you aren't careful, it can be easy to get caught up in the hype and begin to demonize the other side.

For me, it doesn't matter what supporting evidence is presented. I have had enough bad experiences with agri-chemical companies and their supporters that they have lost me as a customer. In fact, I pay a monthly contribution to this company just to show how dissatisfied I am:


Why am I so dissatisfied?

Here is my story:

It all started when I discovered that I was allergic to gluten and positive for Celiac disease. I had always been conscious about what I ate and I even bought organic food if it was a good price. But, that diagnosis catapulted me into a world I didn't understand. I started researching everything I could about gluten and how to avoid it. There were so many facts that shocked me.

It scared me to be given reckless recommendations on a subject that had scarcely been explored. Then, I learned that many people sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to gm foods. Again, it seemed that the effects of these compounds had not been conclusively explored. So, I swore off grains all together.

I went over a year with no grains. But, then the pregnancy cravings kicked in. A little rice pudding here, a corn tortilla there, something processed—which almost certainly contained soy. Each new item I tried made me bloated, cranky, and ruined my skin.

So, out of desperation to have some convenience food in my tired, hormonal state, I tried organic. Guess what? It didn't make me sick! Say what you want about the organic industry. It isn't perfect. But, it doesn't' make me sick. What was the big difference? I believe it was a combination of being chemical and GMO free. The more I cut GMO foods and other chemicals out of my life, the healthier I feel. My asthma is gone, my skin stays clear (until I eat a bag of chips!), I am not falling asleep as soon as I wake up. My body doesn't constantly ache. I could go on...

That wasn't my only brush with organic foods though. When my Zobo was not even one, she developed a rash on her face. It didn't go away until I cut out all foods that were not FODMAP diet friendly. FODMAP's are short-chain carbohydrates that irritate the gut lining. The gut can be damaged from grains like the large protein's in wheat, chemicals like GMO's and other toxins in the environment or our water supply. As she had never had grains and I went grain free just after she was born, I can only surmise that her gut was damaged from my diet before she was born. It was a heartbreaking thing to watch.

Then I found hope! Organic foods seem to not cause any visible reaction! That is when we made the switch to fresh, organic produce. The physical evidence I saw in my own family is enough to make me scared of GMO foods. I understand that this doesn't happen to everyone. It doesn't happen to my husband. It doesn't happen to most of my friends. But, it happens to my girls and I. In the interest of my family, I have to fight to protect our bodies from further damage.

Still, just because you don't see the symptoms doesn't mean it isn't causing your body some type of harm. My husband, who is not allergic and shows no symptoms, notices more energy, better sleep, and easier breathing when he cuts out most grains. He also notices that he has strong anxiety when he eats something with non-organic sugar (regular sugar is made with gmo beets). If this is what he feels, there is likely more damage slowly being done that will not show for many years. But, unlike us ladies of the family, he has the choice of what to eat. He still chooses organic often. He would choose it more if it were readily available for a reasonable price. Because he values the health of our family and has seen the benefit of organic foods, he works hard to provide a usable budget for our organic foods. It's a huge sacrifice for him financially. The more people who make the choice, the more the food industry will see that chemical free food is important to America. So, he makes the choice gladly. And, for someone like me, who seems to have no reasonable choice, that effort means the world.


Having a gluten allergy is a blessing and a curse. Of course, it is a curse because it is a terrible burden. But, it is a blessing because it gives me no option but to make better choices for my body. Now that I have seen the difference, I am glad that the choice was made for me. It taught me things I would never know otherwise. That is why I want you to know my story. Maybe it will compel you to learn more about the effects of GMO's and pesticides in our food supply.  But, sometimes it is tiring doing all the fighting alone. I hope you will consider joining the fight with my husband and I.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What Would Jesus Do

 

My husband chocked a little on his own spit when I told him the title of this post. 

It was the mantra of my youth. I spent my later elementary years looking down at that band around my wrist, feeling guilty every time I made a mistake. 

Then it just became a joke.

Now, it is all but forgotten.

But, if we put the trend aside and take the statement for what it is, then we can allow it to reveal truth in our lives.

The truth is Jesus was a peaceful man.

Whenever I need some guidance and I don't really know what it is that I'm looking for, I turn to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. 

This was one of those times.

I started writing this post about religious freedom at least 4 times. I really wanted to discuss the way Christians were being discriminated against and disenfranchised. I thought I might bring attention to the infiltration of hostile Muslim groups. But, I just couldn't put anything together. I couldn't find a focus. So, I went back to my focus. 

And it hit me.

As I read through those familiar verses, I felt the theme of Jesus' words wash over me. 

From the opening beatitude blessings to the revelation of the spirit of the law. He builds on the theme of peace until he hits the climax and really drives it home.

"You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:43-44)

He then solidifies his meaning with example after example of how to choose the peaceful way and the humble way: giving, prayer, fasting in secret, living one day at a time, not passing judgment. Finally, and most importantly, he ends his list with seeking God earnestly.

So, while we may have the right as Americans to fight for our religious freedom, ask yourself: what are you fighting for?

Are you fighting for the right to say the name of Jesus or are you fighting for Jesus?

I think fighting about this at all misses the point. 

Jesus didn't come to fight. He came to redeem the broken.

Do you really want to preserve the freedom to proclaim the gospel for future generations? Then ask yourself: what would Jesus do?

Jesus humbled himself to the cross. Jesus spent hours in prayer. Jesus loved the unlovable. Jesus didn't have any financial goals. Jesus gave grace freely. Jesus spoke the truth in love. 

That should be our focus today. Not what is the best way to win back the public. Not who is right and who is wrong. Not a fair trial.

Simply This:

What. Would. Jesus. Do.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dear Dr.

Dear Doctors,
Thank you for your time and dedication to learning the most up to date studies in modern medicine. However, I am not convinced that modern medicine is the path for me. You see, I have not been so lucky. I feel as though I am the product of some improvised, half-cocked experiment. I don't feel cared for at all. I only feel misguided. Can you help me?

I have gone from doctor to doctor. I have been told many things. From "it's normal" and " it's in your mind," to "it's allergies," "it's because you need this drug," and "it's NOT that." But, none of it has helped.

I have never been asked "is this helping?"

What if you asked me? Or what if you asked "do you feel better?" What if you asked "What is the result you are looking for?" What if you asked?

If you asked, then I would say "no." No, it's not helping. No, I don't feel better. And what am I looking for? I am looking to feel whole. Not again, just for once. I am tired and I need your help. I don't need a band aid or a drug pitch. I need you to look at me. Observe me. Take time to see MY situation. And help me create a plan to fix me.

But you don't.


You don't take the time to listen. You don't have time to discuss what I really want to know--or, rather, what I don't want to know.

I don't want to know what the latest trials say. I have been a part of the generation of trials. The generation with the highest obesity rates, highest skin, kidney, and thyroid cancer rates (incidentally these are the same organs you would expect to take a significant hit from the types of drugs being placed on the market), highest suicide rates, and highest ADHD rates just to name a few. Scary things happen when we jump on the bandwagon of preliminary trials.

I don't want to know your opinion about specialized medicine. I want to see a specialist. You are not an allergist, a gastroenterologist, or a psychologist. So, please keep you ideas to yourself. Don't make me beg, plead, and holler. Just send me where I need to go and let the rest alone.

I also don't want to know your opinion of my parenting practices. You have seen me for three minutes. How dare you label me as overbearing, or reckless, or uneducated, or whatever else you want me to be so that you can ignore me. Beyond that, how dare you speak to me as if you know that I am what you say I am. What business is it to you?

If you would ask, then you would know that I am scared.

Scared that you will look right through me when I talk. Scared that you just want to get through this and move on. It seems that you have been told what to tell me and you expect me to follow suit. You don't look at my darling children and worry over the risks. You ignore my questions because you don't want to know. Why are babies dying? Why are cases of sever allergies and autism mounting? Why is infertility a bigger issue than ever before? Why are kids still getting measles and mumps? Why do I need to prevent this when it can raise the risk of THAT?

Since you won't ask, I will. Sadly, I already know the answer:

"It's simple, just take this pill."

Signed,

Concerned Mother


POWr Paypal Button

There was an error in this gadget