The One Where I Say Its Okay To Send Your Child To School

SchoolHouse

EDIT:  Due to my inability to think through things and my lack of not properly proofreading and editing – I need to add a disclaimer – my church is a wonderful church, and pays me more than well enough to do all we need to do and more.  Some of you may misunderstand my purpose behind this post, so let me make it perfectly clear – this is a post that is trying to let you know its  okay to send your child to public school.  I know many who struggle with this decision, and its a hard one.

My parents sacrificed A LOT to send all three of us (my brother and sister) to a Christian school.  I’m better for it.  I hope in the future we will be able to send our child to a Christian school.  But for those of you who struggle with sending your child to a public school – I want you to know from this post – that its okay.

I have rewritten this post to emphasize my point  – which is, we should take every opportunity to share the message of Christ with people we come in contact with.  99% of the comments I have received on this post have been very, very positive.

I just did not want this post to reflect poorly on my wonderful church family or elders – who take care of us beyond imagination.  After re-reading this post, I felt like it might be best to say that, and to edit it.  Note to self … ALWAYS EDIT and PROOF!

Begin post:

On Thursday, August 1, 2013 my 5 year old daughter will start Kindergarten.

I don’t know if you all realize how big of a deal this is – Kindergarten!  It seems like she just learned how to say her first word, use the potty, sleep in a big girl bed, eat with a fork, and all the other simple things you learn in the first few years of life.

She’ll be dropped off on Thursday morning for a half day here in Davidson County, and I know when my wife drops her off, she’ll be bawling for the next few hours.  She is, after all, our little girl.  She’s the only one we have.  She means the world to us.

But I have to stop and tell you something.  I’m not scared at all.  We’ve done what we can in these first five years to prepare her for this moment.  And now, its time for her to grow some more.  The hardest time I’m going to have over the next few weeks/months/years is reading about whether or not we should have put her in public schools.

You have to understand, we are a blended family.  Not only am I an Alabama fan and my father in law is an Auburn Alumnus, but I grew up in Christian education, and my wife didn’t have that until she went to college.  From Kindergarten till the day I walked across the stage at Friendship Christian School in May of 1996, I went to the same Christian School, followed immediately by 5 years at a Christian college.

When we moved to Nashville, people told us that Davidson County schools were awful.  We were told to live in Williamson County, but it is getting further away from our church family, and we don’t want that.

So we’re happily sending our child to the public school near our home.  (For security’s sake, I will not disclose what school our child will be attending.)

I simply don’t know what to expect.

Now,I am going to have people reading on Facebook, Twitter, news channels, family events, and other various venues, telling me I should have homeschooled my child.

Understand this – I have nothing against those of you who have chosen to do this.  If you have the knowledge, the means, and the ability to do this, more power to you.  But I believe there is a reason why there’s an old saying that goes “It takes a village….”  I have minister friends, church friends, and family that homeschool.  I respect them beyond imagination.  But homeschooling is not right for us.

My wife is the product of public schools, and I think she did just fine – going to college on an athletic scholarship and graduating with a nearly perfect GPA.  In fact, she finished a lot better GPA than me, the product of the Christian School.

I’m not scared to send my child to school.  She knows God, she knows what is right, she knows how to be a good influence, and she knows that there are people out there who don’t believe in God – and she’s prayed for them.  No, I’m not saying she’s a little missionary, but she has a heart for God that I didn’t have when I was 5.  She will have a chance to influence the boys and girls in her school for God.

On top of that,  we live out of the area where many of our church family goes to school.   We will be in a school where we know absolutely no one.

We’ll be going to parent meetings, teacher meetings, and school events in a place where there will be a great opportunity to share the love of Christ through our love and actions.  Sure, it would be easier to send my child somewhere where I knew the people, and felt more comfortable, but that would take away a great ministry opportunity God has put before me.

I’m not certain why some people are so afraid of sending their children to  school.  We can’t keep them in a bubble forever.  The world is changing, and I want my child to know what she’s up against.

Many of you who are hardcore homeschool advocates won’t understand this.  I have family members who homeschool that won’t understand this.  Is there a potential for her little mind to be scarred by things she wouldn’t see if she stayed at home everyday?  Sure.  But she’s going to experience the world one day, and I would much rather be in control of it now at the age of 5 when she heads off to college at 18.

On top of these things – know this:  I know that God is with her.  I believe in prayer.  I will pray for her daily.  My wife will pray for her daily.  With confidence, we will be able to send her off to school to learn, play, and become assimilated with society – and we will still be in control of her every step of the way.  If the school teaches something we disagree with, that’s fine.  Because we’ll still be teaching her at home, and still be teaching her at church.

So many who homeschool say the problem is that they have no control over what they are taught.  I don’t plan on just turning my child over to the system and then check back in with her every May at the end of the school year.  We will go over things.  We’ll discuss things.  We’ll take time to teach alternative things to evolution and liberal government.

I’m not scared.  I’m proud.  I’m proud of who my little girl has grown up to be in these short 5 years.  I know God will take care of her.  May God bless all our children as they start school over the next few weeks.

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Dear God –

AndGodLa

I love this letter to God from a child –

“Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I’m not praying.”

So simple, yet so overwhelmingly powerful.  But is it true for you?

How would your day be radically transformed if this statement was true for you?  So often, we only think about God:

1.  When we get ready for church
2.  When we are at church
3.  When we pray for a meal
4.  When we tell our child that God doesn’t like what he/she is doing
5.  When something good or bad happens
6.  When/if we pray, study the Bible

But how would it change your day if scattered throughout, you just stopped and thought about God’s love?  God’s grace?  God’s mercy?  God’s awesomeness?  God’s power?

There’s a difference between thinking about God and praying to God.  I think about my wife and my daughter often, but I’m not speaking to them.  I think about them because I love them so much, and they occupy my thoughts throughout the day.  Does God have that same impact on you?

Read this verse – and think about God.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)

 

One Day – Her Prince Will Come


This past Saturday, I attended a wedding of a young couple in our congregation. Seeing as I am a full time minister myself, it was delightful to be able to sit and enjoy the service instead of being involved.

My wife Kristen and I had talked about the wedding to our almost 4 year old, Josie. We told her we were going to a wedding and that she was going to see lots of girls in pretty dresses, and the one wearing the prettiest dress will be the bride. Josie was filled with excitement to be able to witness this event!

As the wedding processional began, Josie asked if she could sit in my lap so she could see everything as it was happening. She watched as the guys entered from behind the stage and took their places, and then as the bridesmaids came down one by one. She sat there saying “Oooh, look at the pretty dresses” and “I would look good in that dress” along with other things.

When the bride walked in, and as we all stood, Josie didn’t say anything. She just sat in my arms with her little mouth wide open, as if she was thinking “Wow, that is the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen!”

As the service began, Josie sat down on the church pew and began playing with some toys she had brought with her. I listened as it began with the familiar words “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”, and immediately, I choked up.

You see, at that moment, I realized one day, my little girl’s prince will come.

One day, my little girl will no longer be my little girl, but my grown up woman who will leave the comforts of her father and mother and bond with someone else, to take care of her. And I’m not so sure I like that idea.

She’s my little girl.

It gives me a great appreciation for my Father-in-law, who had to learn to accept me before handing over his little princess to me to marry her. He had invested over 20 years in teaching her, paying for her to grow up, taking careful steps in what he said around her, watched how he acted around her, all for this nut to swoop in and take her away from him.

And one day, that’s going to happen to my little girl as well. That’s all a bit overwhelming to me. To the point, I’m tearing up as I’m writing this.

Okay, so Josie is only 4 years old. She’s not getting married anytime soon. But if I’m not careful – I’ll blink and the time we have together will be gone. So here are some promises I’m making to myself in order to best prepare my little girl to choose the right guy for her in the future.

1. I will pray for her, continuously, over and over again.
2. I will demonstrate the Father’s love to her, as God has done for me over and over again.
3. I will love her more than my job, my car, my friends, and all other things.
4. I will demonstrate to her how to love her future spouse, by continuously showing her how much I love her mother.
5. I will discipline her.
6. I will protect her.
7. I will let her fail, only so she can learn how to recover.
8. I will show her the importance of God in my life, and how all I have in life is because of Him.
9. I will provide for her.
10. I will tell her no.
11. I will make sure she knows how to respect herself.
12. I will, when the time is right, let her go.

Sure there are other things – too many to list right here.

Josie, you will always be my daughter, my love, my joy, my happiness. God has given you to me, and I will always cherish you. As you grow older, may God continuously give you wisdom, courage, and strength to do the right things.

And as you grow older, may God be preparing that prince for you. May he be a child of God, a devoted Christian, who will attempt with all of his being to love you more than I do. May I be able to let you go when the time is right.

One day, your prince will come.

Dance With Her

Tuesday nights are becoming my favorite night of the week.

My wife, Kristen, gets to go be with the girls from church. They have their “fit” night. If its nice out, they go for a walk. If its cold or rainy, they’ll do an activity inside. While Kristen is hanging out with the girls, I get to hang out with my girl, Josie.

Josie, the greatest bundle of a 3 (almost 4) year old you’ll ever meet. Tuesday nights are our night. Sometimes, we’ll spend time playing with her baby dolls. Some nights, we’ll build towers with her blocks. Some nights, we’ll sit and cuddle and watch a show.

A few weeks ago, we were sitting in the living room on a cold night while Kristen was exercising. I pulled out my iPad and we played some games on it, and then she asked to play “the robot” game. The robot game is a robot app that plays music when you touch the screen. She loves to hear his robotic sounds and different ways he sings them.

After we played with the robot for a while, she asked if she could play the piano. I have the Garage Band app on the iPad, so I started it up. I started playing some different songs with her, when she got up and started dancing around the room. I love watching her dance. She gets really into her performance. She closes her eyes, raises her arms over her head, and starts twirling and jumping – almost like a break dancing ballet.

She danced around the rug in our living room. As she danced, I couldn’t help but think of all the people in my life who have lost their children to a way too early death. Here I am, getting to watch my little girl twirl around the room with all the joy in the world, and they don’t get to do that. Its not fair. Its not fair that I get to experience such happiness, and they have to experience so much grief. God has truly blessed me more than I realize.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday night. It had finally gotten warmer out, so I asked Josie if she’d like to go for a ride in her new wagon. She excitedly agreed, and we set out for a wonderful walk around the campus of Lipscomb University, Josie and her baby doll in the wagon, and I in the front pulling them around.

I don’t think Josie went more than 7 seconds without asking a question, saying a word, or singing a song. Everyone we passed, she said hi to them. One guy walked by us on the way to the library, with his backpack on, and Josie said “Hey daddy, he’s got a backpack just like mine…except…his doesn’t have a turtle on it!” The young man turned and got a kick out of it and chuckled.

When we passed the swings on campus, Josie had to get out and sit with me in each one. Flowers had just been planted on campus, and Josie had to get out and smell each new section we passed. Then her baby doll would sniff them as well, and we could move on.

After we walked to the other side of campus, we started on our way back home. We passed by the commons area next to the student center, and there was a group of Lipscomb University students practicing for their “Singorama” show. There were about 20 co-eds, dancing around. Josie took notice of them immediately.

“Daddy, can I go dance with them?” she asked.

“Well Josie, they’re practicing for something important, and while I’m sure they’d love for you to dance with them, we better let them do it alone” I said.

“Daddy, can I just dance over here instead of with them?” she inquired.

“Well Josie, that may distract them, and that would hurt their practicing, so maybe we shouldn’t. Is that okay?”

“Okay daddy. I understand” she said.

We watched them for a bit more, and then walked around the corner to the other side of the building. When we could no longer see the students practicing, she asked “Daddy, since they can’t see us now, can I dance?”

I started to answer her with a “It’s getting cooler and we need to get home” answer, when I thought of the movie “Courageous” that recently came out. In that movie, a daughter asked her daddy to dance with him, and he said no. He was too embarrassed. Later on in the movie, a tragic turn causes the dad to realize he should have taken advantage of the opportunity.

So I looked down at her face, and I parked the wagon, and there in between the student center steps and the auditorium on Lipscomb’s campus, while many students are walking around, going back to their dorms or going off to play in their intramural games…I let my daughter dance. And I danced with her. And it was the greatest moment of my life.

Now, I didn’t dance like she did. She closed her eyes. She began to twirl and jump. She covered an area much like a gymnast does on the dance floor. I stood off to the side and did my best, but mostly just watched.

I watched my little girl who has grown up way too fast, dance like she didn’t care who was watching her. I watched her as her heart was full of joy and happiness. I truly believe she thought the whole world was watching, that all the eyes of every person were keyed in on her. For that brief moment, nothing else mattered.

When her performance was done, she took her bows, climbed back into the wagon, picked up her baby doll, and told me we could go on home. And so we did – and she continued to ask questions. She continued to want to stop and smell the flowers. She continued to want to sit in every swing.

And I continued to want to let her.

Take time – dance with your children. Shut the laptop and play with them. Put your work down and love on them. Forget trying to be perfect and try to be silly. Whatever you do, don’t let time slip away without dancing with them.

The Joy of Giving (In other words – we’re doing something right!!)

Being a parent is really tough at times. Our child has gotten to terrible 3s. (The 2s weren’t so bad…but the 3s…let me just tell ya!)

She has reached an age where her vocabulary is full enough to talk back to us on purpose. She has become adventurous, louder, and extremely OCD about how everything should be lined up. Her imagination is on full blast, and she gets caught up into these imaginary worlds and often times forgets to come back to earth. She has darted away from us a few times in public, scaring us silly.

Sometimes, I feel like we’re going a stellar job raising her. Most of the time, I feel like a colossal failure. I see other kids sitting still in class, and ours decides that since a crayon is on the floor under the table, rather than tell the teacher, or wait till later, she hops up and pushes the girl next to her out of her chair so she can climb under and retrieve the crayon (remember, OCD, it has to be picked up now and put in its proper place).

I know, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. She is only 3. But that doesn’t mean she should chuck her tennis shoes down the stairs at someone’s head after class time at Life group does it? Or if she falls down the wooden stairs because she’s jumping on them in sock feet, she should learn her lesson and not do it again immediately after we wipe the tears away, right?

Enter Valentine’s day. We woke up and had heart shaped sweet rolls, and gave Josie a Veggie Tales movie about God’s love. She had a good day at Mother’s Day Out at Crieve Hall. I got home, and we sat down for dinner. We went through the mail, and Josie had a card from my parents, her grandmommy and granddaddy.

She opened up the card, and out fell a crisp $5 bill from them for Valentine’s Day. Immediately, all on her own, Josie said “Oh daddy, look, I can give this like the lady did at church!”. I wasn’t exactly sure what she was talking about at first, so we asked a few clarification questions.

Come to find out, she wanted to give all she had like the widow had done when she gave her two pennies to God. She wanted to give the $5.00 grandmmommy and granddaddy had sent her to God.

All of a sudden, the running from us, the random screaming, the hard times in parenting, the lack of sense in some of her decisions…didn’t matter.

I realized that she is listening, and paying attention. She isn’t just a bundle of energy ready to explode. She IS paying attention to her Sunday School lessons and Wednesday night lessons. She IS paying attention to what mommy and daddy are teaching her at home.

Never stop teaching your children what is right. Train them up in the way of the Lord, and they will not depart from it!

Don’t Be So Hard on Them

I’ve been a daddy for almost 3 1/2 years now. For most of that time, I’ve probably been way to hard on my little girl.

I need to realize that my child is not 33 years old like me. She can’t comprehend all the things I ask her to do. She doesn’t quite understand the principle of cause and effect. She doesn’t quite see that what we tell her is for her own good, and not for our entertainment.

I’ve always been overprotective of things. I never wanted our family dog to wander too far away from my sight when I was a kid. When other parents are a little more carefree than I am, I seem to be the one making sure they don’t break their leg while trying to balance on an upside down chair while doing a one handed hand stand. While other parents may be able to look past these things, I seem to be the one who is worried all the time that my child will run under some elderly person at church and cause them to break a hip.

This morning, I realized I was robbing my child of joy. I went home for an early lunch of pb & j, and while I was eating she kept telling me “Daddy, watch me!” and she would jump as high as she could on the rug in our living room. After about 4 attempts at trying to jump over the rug, I told her to stop. She was shaking the whole house, and I could just see something falling over and breaking.

While Kristen and I were talking, I heard that familiar sound of those feet landing on the floor again…and I reacted quickly. I went to her and said “Daddy asked you to stop jumping in the house” and gave her the stern look that is supposed to work but never does. She looked at me and gave me a frown, and walked away. I took away her joy.

I think there’s a fine line between letting a child have fun and letting a child run wild. I’m always very aware at church service not to let her run too wild. But what’s wrong with her jumping in the house? Not a thing at all. Relax Lane, its just a little girl jumping with all her might. She’s having fun. Lighten up a little, and maybe she’ll see you for the fun guy you really are instead of the grumpy old troll who lives under the bridge. Jump as high as those little legs will let you!

And if you break something, let’s blame mom.

Josie, The Turtles, and God


Today, we received some rain in Houston. This may not seem like big news to some, but its HUGE to us here. Read a post from my wife’s blog below, and then read some thoughts below that.

Oyster Creek
There’s a park here in Sugar Land called Oyster Creek Park. It has a fantastic running trail that weaves in and out of wooded areas along the creek for about 4 1/2 miles. I used to run over there all the time, but now I’ve gotten lazy and just run in our neighborhood. It had been a while since we’d been over to the park, so this morning Josie and I loaded up on the bicycle and rode over there to play on the playground and see the turtles. We played on the playground for a while and ate a snack, then got back on the bicycle to go a little further down the trail to the bridge where the turtles swim. I was shocked as we got close enough to see that the creek was COMPLETELY dried up. We haven’t had significantly measurable rain in the Houston area in over 250 days, so I don’t know why I didn’t expect this. It was really sad. There used to be hundreds of turtles swimming around in the water. We did see one turtle out in the middle of the trail, obviously looking for water. If I’d known somewhere to take him, I would have. The whole place smelled like death and there was a big group of vultures in the middle of the dried-up creek bed.
But at least it presented a “teaching moment” for Josie. I told her we needed to pray and ask God to send some rain so the turtles can swim again. She said “Okay, tonight when I go to bed and we say our prayer, I’ll ask God to send rain for the turtles.” So, then I got to teach her that we don’t have to pray just at mealtimes or at night before we go to bed. I told her that God can hear our prayers anywhere at anytime. So, we said a prayer right there while riding on a bicycle together. Then she asked me “Where is God?” and I was relieved when she accepted the answer, “God is everywhere! He’s all around us!”. Not sure if I’m ready for deep, theological questions yet!

Majority of the state of Texas is in a severe drought. The city of Houston is starting to regulate water usage. People can only water their lawns on certain days and at certain times. We’re encouraged to take 5 minute (or less) showers, which I’d be happy to do if they could increase the water pressure so I can rinse the soap off faster! Unfortunately, meteorologists don’t see an end in sight unless we get a tropical storm this direction. So, please pray that God will send some rain (even in the form of a tropical storm!) to Texas!

Last night when I said goodnight to Josie, she said “I’m sorry the creek is all dried up and the turtles don’t have anywhere to swim.” I told her to pray to God for rain so the turtles could swim again. She said with a smile – OKAY!

She woke up this morning, and at breakfast she busted out into a spontaneous prayer, and again, prayed for rain for the turtles.

Oh how faithful God is, because he sent some rain this way after a sweet and devoted faithful girl prayed to Him for rain. How great is our God indeed.

All I Can Do

Sometimes, all I can do is pray.

And today is one of those days. I can’t really tell you why, but today is filled with much prayer. For me, for my wife, for my daughter, and several other key people in my life.

Nothing is wrong. I’m not making a major change in my life. I’m not getting out of ministry. If anything, after last week at Pepperdine and their lectures, I’m more inspired and rejuvinated in my ministry efforts. Getting OUT of ministry is indeed the last thing on my mind at the time.

No one is sick, at least no one in my immediate family. Sure there are sick people that I am praying for, but I am confident God has them under His loving care.

God, in His infinite wisdom, created us with a need to have relationships, both with Him and with others. Recently, I have learned what it is like to be alone. Even though it was on just a temporary basis, I realized that I have come a long way in my life. Back in 2001-2003 I lived alone. I was a bachelor in Houston TX, doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I didn’t have any restrictions in my life. If I wanted to go to McDonald’s at 2 a.m., I could have done so. If I wanted to go on vacation over the weekend to Mt. Rushmore, I could have.

But you could not pay me any sum of money to go back to that life. Sure, it was fun. Yes, I cherish those times with the students and friends and teachers in my life.

However, there were 2 key components missing in my life at that time. God, and my family.

Okay, let me rephrase that. God wasn’t missing. God was and is always there for me. I just treated him as an afterthought. I went through the motions. God was a part of my life, but was not my life. I didn’t think of Him much outside of my lesson plans to teach Bible, putting together chapel for Westbury, or the trips to the church building. At that time of my life, God was just there, and that was about it.

The other key component missing was my wife, and now here recently I have learned – my daughter, Josie. Sure, I had friends there, and my day was occupied by my students, but I had no real relationships. I bounced around from group to group, never allowing myself to get too terrbily close to anyone.

Fast forward a few years to present day. I think God puts us in our own personal deserts at certain times, so we will be forced to take a step in a different direction, hopefully being towards Him. My steps toward having a closer, more intimate relationship with God, came about as a result from the other relationship in my life – Kristen. To take it a step further, it went even farther when Josie came along.

Being forced to be by myself this past week caused me to gravitate towards God a bit more. Its amazing how it really is true that when you shut up for a bit, and allow God to speak, that He actually has some really good things to say.

And now, all I can do is pray, for without prayer, I do not have God in my life. Without God in my life, all other relationships I have just don’t mean as much. Without God in my life, my career, my lifestyle, my passion and drive is gone. Without God, the miracle of my daughter being born into my life disappears. Without God, there would be nothing, so all I can do is pray, and let him be a part of my life.

And I pray that you will allow Him to be part of yours as well. All I can do is pray that you will see that. All I can do for you is pray. All that I am, all that I have, all that I will be is because of Him.

T-Giving time.

In an effort not to go a week without posting, I thought I would update everyone on what’s going on for the Holidays.  Being 900 miles away from family makes it harder, but not impossible, to get together for the holidays.

On Wednesday, we will load up in the family CRV and drive about 8 hours to Gulf Shores, AL.  We will be meeting Kristen’s parents, and her sister and brother in law for Thanksgiving there.  We will stay there till Saturday, and then return home for services on Sunday at church, and a day of rest before the week starts again.

While I’m not looking forward to a an 8 hour drive with an 18 month old child in the back, I am looking forward to getting away from the big city and having a day or so to enjoy time with my wife and baby girl at the beach.

So at this time of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for another year with Josie and Kristen, a good job with a great church family, and so many other things I can’t list because I just don’t have the time.  I will get back to the final few chapters of the book review soon.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving, be careful on Black Friday,  and I look forward to Cyber Monday, where the real deals can be had.  God bless us all.