Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tea Time

It’s fall again; end of summer, beginning of school, cooler evenings and chilly mornings. We usually think of spring as a time of new beginnings, but for me this year, it is fall. It is my first year with record low school enrollment-2. My first year jumping into teaching at the big co-op. My first year as a mother-in-law. My first year without all my children at the holidays.  Hmm, yes, new beginnings and many changes.

For all of us, children brought unexpected changes in our lives. No matter how prepared or unprepared we thought we were for our children, God never lets us know the whole story before hand. He is wise and knows we could never handle that. It is why we have to trust Him. If we look at what the world says, how much money and time it takes to raise a child to adulthood (which, by the way, they are claiming is into the late twenties now), we would be foolish at best to have children. We could only hope to minimize the damage they will incur as they grow up in this crazy world.

When we first got married, I told my husband I didn’t want children. Not because that is how I really felt, but because I was afraid of the health problems I had. I didn’t want those passed on to my children. Neil said we needed to trust God. When my first two sons were born, I was afraid to nurse them because of the AIDS problem. You see, I have Hemophilia C and I require blood transfusions with every surgery and childbirth. When Alan and Sean were born, the blood supply safeties were not as strict as with my last two children. So I trusted God, nursed my babies and got my AIDS and Hepatitis screens for the first six months. I was learning to lean on the Lord for the health and well being of my children.

But what about the world? Could I trust Jesus to capture my children’s hearts and keep them for himself? How can we live in this world and not become a part of it? How can we stand as an example against it and still be approachable? Part of the answer was in the call to homeschool.  I didn’t get the chance to homeschool until my husband lost his job when the older boys were finishing the 2nd and 5th grades. I had wanted to since Alan was born, but Neil was concerned that I wouldn’t thrive at home because I so enjoyed teaching women’s bible study at church. My gift is teaching. I love to use it in a variety of settings. We have been able to infuse our children’s schooling with the Word of God. Jesus and faith have not been relegated to Sundays, but He is part of everyday life: school, church, scouts, girls ‘club, food pantry, family life.

But…it all comes to naught if it does not become our child’s faith. To make it in this world, THEY have to have a vibrant relationship with Jesus. They need to learn to trust Him and follow His will and walk against the evils of the world they live in. When they are young, they just give you all the right answers, the ones you have taught them. Then comes a scary time when they begin to question all those beliefs. That is the time that faith is becoming their own, not yours. It is scary for us because we hear all their questions. “How do you know God is real”? “How do you know God really inspired the authors of the Bible?”  And many more. Just hold on and keep praying, give them honest answers. Help them seek the scriptures to find the answers for themselves. Challenge them to ask Jesus to reveal Himself to them. They need to form their own unique relationship with God. He will be their strength and shield for the remainder of their days.

Change, it seems to come back to that. Everything around us changes and brings something new. Our children grow older, the world around us becomes smaller and more hostile. Decay is more evident. But through it all, we have an anchor, Jesus. He never changes. That is why we can trust Him. Our theme verses for the year talk about staying true to the Word and Jesus Christ when many are letting themselves be carried away with “interesting new ideas”. It comes in the way of schooling, churches, fashion, language, culture, morals, etc. No matter the beginnings you have this year, make one thing a constant, pursue Christ Jesus. Invite Him for tea, let Him share His wisdom and love with you. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Sipping Tea in the Garden

Boil some water; make a nice pot of tea. Put on a shady hat and sit with me in the morning sunshine of a lovely garden. It’s the end of another school year. For some of you it is the end of your first year of homeschooling. You made it! For others, it is another of many more to come. For six of us, it will end with children graduating from our schools and on to other endeavors. It’s a good time to sit and reflect.

Sunday was a milestone in my life as a mother…my firstborn child left the nest. When my children were young, I couldn’t bear to think of this day. How would I handle the day they left Mommy? How could they ever be ready to live on their own?

We dedicated each of them to the Lord, promising to raise them in His name. He entrusted them to us, such a huge task. We did what we thought was best over the years. We prayed for them, we taught them, we disciplined them, we loved them, and we hoped. One day, each of them made their own decisions for Christ and we discipled them and watched them grow in their faith. We watched as our older children embraced Jesus fully on their own, and can hardly wait to see that blossom in our younger ones.

I’ve questioned my own mother over and over, “how did you let go?” She has been such a wonderful example for me. She doesn’t know, she just did it.

So, how did Sunday go?  I truly believe that our Heavenly Father was growing and maturing me the same as He was my child. I was ready for this. I am so excited for him and his bride-to-be. Sure, I miss him, but I am not weeping. I am not heart broken. I have finished my job of day to day mom. I will always be here as an advisor when he asks me. But he is ready to be a man on his own. Ready to leave his father and mother and go prepare a place for his bride with our blessing.

Wow, the Lord is so good. We call these children “ours” but we need to remember they are really His, entrusted to us. We have them in our homes for such a short time, but if we follow His plan, their leaving is easier, and I trust that these heart bonds we have will hold through miles and miles.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cutting the Apron Strings

My first born is getting ready to leave home. I have mixed feelings about this, but not as much as I thought I would years ago. He is 20 1/2 years old now, and in one week he will be moving away to another state to start a new job and a new life in the adult world on his own. He will return in a couple of months to wed his bride, and then off they will go to start their grand adventure.

When he was little I couldn't imagine life without him, or my other children. But the day after he got this job, in another state, he asked me if I was okay with it. I thought about it, and realized that I was. I will miss him greatly, but I'm okay with him moving away. I told him this is how it is supposed to work. My job is done. I will never stop being his Mom, nor stop caring about him, but my job of raising him is over. He is an adult and if his father and I have done our job well, he is ready to begin to do this life without us. He has his faith in Jesus, he has his helpmate, and he has a good foundation.

Our relationship will begin to change as well. Now we can begin to be friends, not just parent/child. No longer do I tell him what to do, but I can offer advice when he asks for it. No longer does he need to obey his Mom, but he can ask for help and wisdom. He is the man of his family, not just my little boy.

Right now he is nervous about the change, he still likes to be in charge, but I think he will blossom when he gets to his new home. It will be good for him and his bride to lean on each other so much in the beginning. I know that when my husband and I had to do that, we grew from that. As much as he is nervous to go, he has been having growing pains to get away from here as well. More and more the urge to "get out of here" grips him. Maybe that is just another one of God's signals that we have done okay, and he is ready to be off to start his life. I told him that night he got the job, it is not natural for the kids to stay with the parents forever. They are entrusted to us by God for a short time to raise them for Him, and then to let them go into the world to form new families.

My son, you are ready to go. Be Blessed by Jesus

Letting Go of Perfection

Letting go of Perfection

I want to say I’m sorry for not getting my article done last month. Life happens, and the Beard household was just a bit out of control last month. I finally just had to give up and make the call that the article was just not going to happen. Which leads me to my topic… so pour a cup of tea, sit down, and consider what I have to share with you.

Do you enjoy long spells of doing absolutely nothing, or are you like me and go stir crazy if you aren’t doing something? I think most women tend to be “busy”. God wired us to give, serve, nurture. We look in Scripture and see example after example of industrious women “looking well to the ways of their households”. We spend great quantities of time making sure we’re getting it all done, and done right. But I wonder if we have the right focus.

We see in Jesus’ encounter with Martha and Mary that our first priority is to spend time with Him, at His feet. That puts our attitudes in a perfect place. When we are close in our relationship with Jesus, we have a greater capacity to extend grace to our family. His priorities are not a perfect house, but a loving home.

I firmly believe that one of the ways Jesus has used my health problems to His glory is the way it has forced me to let go of perfection. I have spent my children’s younger years teaching them how to take care of the house and how to prepare the food, etc. Now they are learning to do it better through lots of practice. But I have to struggle with letting go of perfection, and learning to rest while they are doing the bulk of the work.

Having that cleaned, picked up house is always a struggle for us homeschoolers because we are always there in the home, it never stays done! We need to release that desire for the “perfect house” and instead focus on the loving home. Letting go frees us to allow our children to grow in their ability to take over the household chores. Letting go allows us to focus more on what our family members need that what our house needs. Letting go lets God grow His grace in us.

Give your small child a rag and let him dust the baseboards while you sip your tea. Have your grade school children vacuum while you put up your tired feet and cuddle a little one. Your Jr. Higher or High Schooler can do that bathroom while you read some Scripture and sip some Tension Tamer tea. And when they are done, encourage what they did right, offer tips for the next time, and never re-do what they did! Let go of perfection and hug your children.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I have a best friend that is a precious, rare jewel. In fact, Jewel is her middle name!

The early days of our friendship were forged over cups of coffee and the Word of God. Our Father, quite literally, put our friendship together despite our protests. We didn’t have much at all in common except we both went to the same church (in a different town) and we lived in the same neighborhood. She thought I was a goody two-shoes who didn’t want to spend time with someone like her. I just couldn’t sleep with snoring! (We shared a room for one night at a woman’s retreat). But, our small group Pastor kept urging our two families to get together. Sandie and I gave in and tried, our husbands didn’t. And that started us on a wonderful, unexpected friendship.

As we spent time weekly over cups of coffee, or tea, with the Word between us, with our hearts in prayer for our husbands and our children, God formed a bond in us. We know how David and Jonathon felt when they made a covenant between them. We understand the deep love that extended even to each others children and heirs. We’ve shared the birth and death of hopes and dreams, ours, our husbands’ and our children’s. We share promises received, and some still awaiting.

One of the hardest things we have gone through is separation. For the last several years we have been struggling to learn how to do best-friendship over a long distance. It has been tough. We have both have health issues that we wish we were able to be closer to help one another. We have also had tremendous family stresses. We both could so use our tea-for-two time. One evening after this past Christmas, my dear Sandie called me to give me permission to find a new best friend to have tea with here to help with my stress load. I can’t begin to tell you the sacrifice that was for her, and we both cried together as I told her that no one could replace her.

So why am I sharing this with you? It is the beginning of a new year. I’ve been trying to challenge you a little bit each month. So, now I’m asking you to reach out, stretch a bit maybe. Start to share your tea with someone else. Do you have a Best Friend? Is she your accountability partner? Is there a younger Mom you can share a cup of tea with? Can you give a gift of tea to someone? We all need Jesus with skin on from time to time, and He is faithful to give us friends.

My article this month is dedicated to my Bestest Friend Ever, Sandie Jewel Cumpiano. She is my David and my Anne with an E

The Value of a Cup of Tea

Have you noticed the days are getting shorter, and the morning air is a bit crisper? Fall is here! Thanksgiving is around the corner and all the stores are beginning to stock up for Christmas. The Holiday season is upon us; unfortunately, that usually means instead of taking time to rest, we get even busier.

We have too much to do, too many people to take care of, too many things needing to get done. That has been one of the biggest battles of my life. I have a heart that loves to give and to serve, but also one that has taken a very long time to learn to say no. God has allowed several occasions to come in my life when my health has crashed because I was over committed, doing too much. Each time I thought I had learned my lesson.

Shortly after my daughter was born, I learned I had inherited another family trait, low thyroid. It wasn’t discovered until I was in a deep clinical depression. My pastor advised me, along with my doctor’s treatment, to sleep when I needed it, and to make sure I had daily recreation. He asked me what things I did that I enjoyed, reading, crafts? I replied that I had no time for any of the things I enjoyed to do. I had four children. I was home schooling them. I had duties. His reply was that I needed that time of recreation for my renewal. I needed that “cup of tea” to build my reserves to be able to serve my family, or I would continue in the cycle of collapse.

I thank Our Lord all the time for my wise Pastor. Jesus got through to me that last time and I finally learned that my daily Word time and Tea time are necessary to keep my life in balance.

I can hear many questions coming at me on just how to get your time in the word daily, especially from those of you with small children. Please remember, God’s Word is living and active. It is living food for your life and your spirit. Some may not agree with me on this, but I have seen God sustain me and grow my children over the years through what I have done. In the younger years, I simply read the Word to my children (baby- about 3rd). We would read a chapter a day, through a whole book. Then we would pray together. As they got older, we would discuss the chapter after reading it. They would also get to choose the books we would read through. In the Jr. and Sr. High years, we study inductively together. So, yes, most of my Word time is with my children. I also read through the bible, but I don’t make it in a year, and I don’t get to it everyday.

So, am I in the Word everyday, yes It is the Bread of Life. Am I alone with It, no. Am I alone with God everyday, yes. I tend to run an ongoing dialogue with the Lord throughout my day. I don’t know when that began, but that is how my life is.

The busy Holiday season is upon us, are you ready for it? Have you developed a habit of little tea breaks in your busy day? Have you begun to look at you Father’s world through the eyes of your child? Push through with those in this harried time don’t let go of the knowledge that He came to give us a light burden when we are yoked with Him.

Is your tea hot or cold?

So, how many times last month did you get to sit down and rest? How many times did you try only to be called away by an important need? You take care of the problem, and come back to find your tea cold in the cup…

Hmm, chances are you have young children. The younger they are, the more the interruptions it seems. It seems so long ago to me that I’ve had babies and toddlers running around. My kids are 11, 14, 18, and 19, way past baby size. I remember so well older Moms telling me “enjoy these years, they go by so quickly” and while I now know they were right, it really didn’t help much at the time. So, how to enjoy your cup of tea with babies and toddlers? That is what you really need. One thing I did is nurse my little ones. It forced me to sit down and rest. I would use that time to snuggle everyone up and read together. It made a good rest time. So, if you have a nursing baby, give that rest break a try. If you bottle feed, guard it as a rest time. Don’t delegate it to someone else, use it as your rest and snuggle time too! Since your tea has turned cold, throw in some ice and still have your tea break (you won’t burn your little ones with this method).

I get lots of questions about how I home schooled with babies and toddlers. What did I do with them when I was schooling the others? I guess my answer is that I didn’t do anything with them. Home schooling for our family is not separate from being our family. It is part of how we do life, so the babies and toddlers were just included in what we do. If we were reading, they were listening. If we were writing, they had age appropriate writing tools. If we were doing art, so were they. Chances are your school age children are still young as well, and so all of your children are eagerly learning through exploring the outdoors, hearing tons of good books, doing lots of fun experiments, growing gardens, field trips, caring for animals, etc. Hmm, every wonder what they see down there from their view?

So, my challenge this month, continue your tea breaks (hot or cold) and add enjoying a couple of your children’s adventures this month with a child-like wonder. Try it; let me know how it goes.