Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving Day

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I woke up this morning with this wonder of what I would be doing today and talking to my Lord about it as well as all the times He has guiding through the tough times. I thirst for His reassurances. I have done this probably much of my life except for those times when my thoughts were taken hostage too immediately by an overpowering gloom left over from the night before...or several nights. It has been many nights, so many that this air has an ancient familiarity, yet also feels awkward.

Today, though, I awoke in a reflective state which I would describe as normal for me as if this is my default mode. So, I am enjoying the golden hour of the morning with a voluminous harvest moon setting in the west  and the dawning sun in the east as the my home planet slowly rotates with a cup of Sweet Harvest Pumpkin tea on my left and the glare of technology in front beckoning me as blank canvases would an artist.

It is such a sweet feeling and I wish to savor it. A sip of tea...savor all there is in this quiet moment.

Today is Thanksgiving Day. I barely had an awareness that we were in November—well, I knew that it was November because the first week of it my husband and the Princess were on the retreat. I mean, for me time stopped from the weekend when the rest of the dominoes fell immediately after the retreat. I was stuck there. The moon and the sun continued their dances across the sky, but for me time had no real impact.

I found myself, more than once or twice the past month, still in my pajamas past noon. Now, I have nothing against people who stay in their pajamas long into the day, but it is not me. I like to dress as soon as I can without disturbing my husband, who might have had a later night than I. Pajamas still seen on me past daylight is often an indication that I am ill or in pain. I have been both, although the pain was in my heart.

My husband is now up and preparing in the kitchen. Thanksgiving is usually his day. Early in the week, I may have made a homemade pie and our Holiday Red Cabbage Cole Slaw, fondly called "the purple stuff" by a friend, but usually the only thing I might have my hand in the kitchen for this day is a sweet potato dish. My husband loves to cook, he loves to plan meals, and I am more than happy let him have this day as cooking is something I appreciate far more when someone else does it. This time around there will only be the three of us and the meal will be simple.

The turkey was in a brine over night and it will be smoked on our grill outside. Sometimes my husband fries the turkey, which is a Southern thing; Southerns fry just about anything they can stick a fork into seems and it is an indication that we have lived in the South a long time, even though originally I was a Yankee and my husband from the West. I have a store brought cherry pie and vanilla ice cream, a breech in protocol for us not to have homemade of both. Sweet potatoes will be baked with butter and brown sugar on hand. A salad and/or a simple vegetable side dish will be plenty.

It is not as fancy as we like but then our house is in a state of repair and remodel inside due to the replacement windows and yet-to-be-completed work on the outside—mostly left is painting the front door and the shutters. Add to that the events of since school started we, are emotionally worn and my husband has been away, except on the weekends, for the past few weeks. We have a way of adapting to the situations of life and we know that leaving some unclaimed space between all this and our limits is the best way to retain our civility...and quite possibly our sanity.

A friend asked us to join their family and in years past, we have shared a few holiday meals together, but with her mother, father-in-law, and two adult nieces living next door now, I felt that would be too much for me. Too many people, too noisy, and too much of all the things that can overwhelm a highly sensitive empath at her best. I have not regained confidence in my emotional stability just yet.

This morning after my daughter joined us for a breakfast of tea and sweet bread, our traditional holiday breakfast, I opened up a discussion I have been wanting to have us all to brainstorm for several months. We have several challenges in our home:

  • The Princess and I both need an art and craft studio area that is functional. She is drawing all the time and writing when not doing that with reading pushed into third place.
  • The Princess has no room in her bedroom making it difficult for her to have a guest sleepover.
  • The Princess' digital piano, our birthday present, is crowding my dining room. (My keyboard is downstairs in the office area and the acoustical piano is in the living room.)
  • For Christmas this year, the family gift is a big gun safe which is going in the basement room under the living room, which is also the room that houses our pantry and art and craft studio and storage currently. (The garage is the same level as the basement so no steps.)
  • We have too much furniture and not enough functional spaces in the basement rooms.

One of the solutions I thought about last spring was to give the Princess both of the bedrooms, one she is using and the guest room. That would be ideal for us all at this stage. She could have the digital piano and even maybe the keyboard on a stacking stand in her study room along with her bookcase and desk.

The downside is we have a lovely honey oak country bedroom set that I really like and do not want to get rid of in the guest room and we do not have the space to store it—back to that later.

My husband has suggested a few times before to move his desk into the art and craft studio area and move all the art stuff into the office area. He also suggested building a wall of shelves on one end of the office area for all our books, which is a significant collection considering that we homeschool and just love books. Lots of incidental things get moved and changed, but these would be the major ones. The main thing that holds me back is the guest room furniture.

Maybe there is such an attachment because the guest room was the first room I redecorated in this house and the first furniture we bought so that friends from where we moved could visit as well as family. Even though there is just walking room at the foot and sides of the queen size bed and the matching armoire is in the Princess' room because it does not fit in with the guest room with the dresser and night stand, it has a old fashion inn quality with its faux painted walls in subtle old rose, peaches, cream with touches of gold, and decorations of roses and angels. It would sell better that way though if there was room for a rocking chair and a reading lamp on a side table with hardwood floors and homemade rugs, but I did what I could with the space that I had.

If we move, the main criteria would be a larger room for the Princess and an art studio area as well as a workout area, a large kitchen, and a mud/utility room with at the very least two usable acres, ten in all would be better but two need to be cleared and relatively flat. The house would be preferably less than 15 years old or remodeled, but with the ability to hide asbestos concerns, I would rather it be a newer home.

So, we are between fixing our house to sell or fixing it to suit ourselves or maybe both? We were hoping to move closer to the school to which the Princess was going, but that is no longer a concern and I have not received a clear word from the Lord yet about trying to move. I wonder if the reason we are to wait is because we would want to move closer to the college our daughter would be attending, if that is God's will for her, in just a few years. However, that puts homesteading off to the point we might not want to start such an endeavor.

All these ideas and yet I still have the walls around the windows to repair and paint, the interior of the windows to paint, the shutters and front door to paint, the dining room and kitchen to finish preparing from removing the wallpaper and to paint, and my bathroom to also paint. And the worse part is most of this would still have to be done even if we would like to move!

I was seeing our house as falling apart, even though we are fixing it up. It just reminded me of how everything rots in this world, everything needs maintenance and repair. However, when my home, that is, my family, began falling apart, that is when my perspective of what is most important focused on what it should be, not the plaster and paint, but the connections of love between my daughter, my husband, my friends, my Lord and me. All of them are my world, the house is just a place where they can find me. Still we have plans to change liabilities into assets in our living spaces because the house should serve our lifestyle not become our lifestyle. So, the Christmas tree we pick tomorrow will be probably be placed in front of a unpainted window with plaster still showing on the wall around it. It will not be perfect (as I so hoped to get it done before this day), but Christmas coming will be what we make it.

Thank you, my Lord. Just thank you for everything.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When the Train is on the Wrong Track

The wheel of change moves on, and those who were down go up and those who were up go down. ~Jawaharlal Nehru

My seemed that everything was going so good for her, that God was blessing her so abundantly, but she had become unreachable emotionally. Now she is again reachable but she began on a track that was the wrong one and her train just kept rolling on it, seemingly without God as the Engineer. Yes, she has been going on very rough rails and it breaks my heart to watch, but as teenagers become more independent thinkers, they can make some bad choices, which they rationalize to fit their own sense of justification. This often means that very rules we set as parents to protect them (because we have wisdom they have not yet acquired) will get bent and broken in varying degrees. It is a time of learning wisdom for themselves and it can come at some very high prices. Had the Princess used wisdom in respecting our rules and honoring us, she would not have broken the other ones that were set by the church play acting group and she would not have lost her role, the lead role, in the play.

We found out about her losing the part in the play on Sunday, November 8th, after church and that was the second whammy. The first being described in all the detail I felt comfortable to write in a public blog in my last post.

Then came the third! They say these things come in threes so I am very much hoping this is the last...for a very, very, VERY long time. (Three for three!)

This one happened at the school science retreat that she and her father were on the first week of November, because on Monday, November 9th—the day after we were given the news about the play—the mother of my daughter's best friend, a girl, at school and I talked. It was then I that learned about my daughter breaking the same rule there as she did to lose her role in the play.

My friend's husband was also a chaperon in the only cabin where the pitiful air conditioner was not working at all in heat and humidity of Florida; the coolest night temperatures were in the 80's. My husband and this man were tentatively planning to have lunch on Monday. He has a similar job in another company so he was about to go out of state to the north and my husband was doing the same although he would be turning eastward after they ate. However, he realized something involving our daughter on the last day of the retreat and did not get to talk to my husband that day as they were preparing to leave. Sunday he thought we all would need to rest, so it could wait until Monday, but the lunch plans changed when we got the news about the play. We felt that we needed to be together as much as possible so my family went out together instead.

Back to Sunday, after the news about the play and being concerned about my daughter's mental/emotional state, I texted the wife to ask if her daughter, my daughter's best friend, could stay over night the coming Saturday as I had suggested a few weeks previously. Unfortunately, they were expecting family to visit so it was not possible, but she also texted that she had some concerns from the hardships and observations at the retreat. Considering her husband was in the cabin with the worse conditions, I figured that was at least one of the main ones, and we made plans to talk after I returned home from lunch on Monday with my husband and daughter.

Within the first few minutes, she told me what her husband had been hoping to tell my husband that day. I found myself moaning "no" and yet believing it completely because it described the very same problem that my husband and I had identified and addressed weeks ago, and yet...the Princess was just not getting the message and making the same mistake just varied to a slight degree.

After we completed our conversation that included other things which concerned her regarding the retreat that had nothing to do with my daughter, I called my husband, who almost turned right back around to come home, but instead he worked to make the two day job he was being sent to do done in one day and came back the following day with just two hours of sleep...actually, neither one of us slept well that night.

The Princess has almost always, even when she was quite young, had more friends who were boys than girls. She liked the kind of the games they play, she liked the toys (swords and guns) with which they play far more than Barbie dolls, and she liked the things they talked about more than what most girls would talk about. She does not like cattiness at all. Even though there was a year or two when she insisted on dressing in a fancy dress and shoes for dinner every evening just because she liked to do so and seated Rachel Rebecca, one of her large companion dolls, at the table with us, she was never prissy; she would just as quickly be in muddied play clothes catching snails, toads, and gardener snakes in the garden.

The Princess has just not been not understanding the transition she needs to make, as if ignoring it will make it unnecessary. She still sees boys as friends that she can hang with the same as she had been when she was younger, but it was different on many levels than before. Even if she felt she was alone with a boy, she was playing outside usually within my line of sight or my hearing or in another parent's, one whom I trust. One rule we have always made quite clear is that she was not ever allowed to be inside the house of even her best friend in the neighborhood, a girl, unless her one of her parents was home because the only siblings still living there were older boys. This rule was for the protection of their reputations as well as my daughter's.

Some weeks ago we addressed that being alone with a boy or boys in a church room with an open door but without an adult present is not acceptable, even if there were people all over the church and walking by the room. Just about four weeks ago, we addressed that she is not to go exploring in the woodsy area behind the church alone with a boy, specifying that she had to be with an adult from then on and never in those woods again at all. The play leaders also address being alone with boys her several times and had a meeting reminding everyone of the rules without pointing any fingers, but after the very next practice my daughter and one of her friends, a boy, decided that it would be within those rules to go outside of the church as it was becoming dark and walk around talking since there were adults out there—of course, these were just people getting in their cars to go home, who were not concerned about the two of them.

The Princess seems confused why that was a problem because nothing has happened. In fact, she views boys about the same as she always has, just friends, and thinks she is old enough not to need supervision when she is just hanging with a friend. However, we had quite a talk on that Sunday about being with an adult with authority over her at all times regardless of who she may be with, including when she was at church...and from the argument she made on that Tuesday evening, I know that, at least, sunk in, but her argument that she was within our new-but-unknown-to-her-yet (although not really new) rules during the retreat because the chaperon with authority gave her permission to meet with her son, who openly has admitted to having a crush on her, first thing every morning far out on the bridge over the lake in the open with no adult close by was still terribly flawed though.

My husband was unaware. Since the boys and girls are kept separate, except for group and team activities during the day, while my husband was there he was the single chaperon in the cabin of a small group of boys. Due to the subtropical heat and sun, three of his boys became ill the first day, but one in particular had a bad time with the heat the entire week. Also, my husband is a very helpful kind of guy, therefore he was doing above and beyond his assigned duties, like changing the a flat tire for the school leader and such. So, although my husband was there, he rarely saw our daughter, which we suspect might have been avoiding him anyway.

The boy who likes her was in the same cabin with the faulty air conditioner. His chaperon, our friend, was being told that he was going out for a walk, rather than he was going out to meet a girl. The boy explained to his cabin chaperons that his mother, who is also a teacher at the school, had given him permission to leave his cabin before the time allowed, so the man let him go without much concern at the time; he is a trusting kind of guy. With the air conditioner on the fritz and the lack of sleep, who could blame him for letting the boy out in the cooler air?

My daughter unwittingly has created something I call the "perpetual monster," or just "monster" for short. First she got behind in her school assigned work. Then she got very behind and tried to hide it. Then it ate at her, so she wanted to anyone who was willing to talk to her, except us, her parents. The most eager to talk to her was a couple of boys who have crushes on her, but they could not help her because they did not even know what was bothering her, nor could they help her if they did know, so they became her distraction to help her to not think about her problem. Unfortunately, she found that she just could not stop thinking about the thing she was hiding from us. The more she talked to them, the less work she did, the more she got behind, the more she wanted to talk to them...the perpetual monster just kept growing and collected associating infractions along the way.

I think she finally understands that spending time alone talking to a boy without an adult with authority over her, like a chaperon or parent, close by is completely against our rules at all times no matter how innocent it is or was, even if it was out in the open where they could be seen by everyone. We are completely against going together and dating, which now has been expanded to include communication through technology. Although I was overseeing the conversations on Google Hangouts, way too much time had been spent exclusively together in the cyber world especially when she was supposed to be doing her assignments. We are believers in courtship with the intention of marriage, not casual dating, and courting the Princess is not even a consideration at this time in her own mind and certainly not within ours. In fact, she does not want any of her friends to have crushes on her; she even has stated wisely that she is not ready for that.

As written at: What Is Courtship? (understand how courtship differs from dating)
Courtship is a relationship between a man and a woman in which they seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry each other. Under the protection, guidance, and blessing of parents or mentors, the couple concentrates on developing a deep friendship that could lead to marriage, as they discern their readiness for marriage and God’s timing for their marriage. (See Proverbs 3:5–7.)
Courtship is a choice to avoid temptation and experience the blessings of purity. It is a choice to not emotionally give away your heart, piece by piece, to many others through casual dating relationships and instead to give your whole heart to your life partner.
It is a choice to wait for God’s best, for His glory. It is a decision to walk by faith, to trust in God, to honor others above yourself, and to believe that God will deal bountifully with you, because He is love. (See II Corinthians 5:7, Psalm 9:10, Romans 12:10, Psalm 13, and I John 4:8.)

We understand how teenagers prefer to find the people who will say what they want to hear or give them permission to do what they want to do, which is probably why my husband hardly saw our daughter at the retreat. When my husband was asked by his boys to do something, like walk the path around the lake as it was getting dark, he offered to call their attending parents to get permission but the boys would not even bother to call knowing the answer their parents would give. We were youth group leaders for a few years once upon a time and we always believed in the parents having last say over their own children. This is why it very much concerned us that any chaperon would knowingly allow any of the girls to meet with any of the boys or vise versa without talking to the parents. Besides that it was obviously not something that the school founders would have allowed: they would not allow a boy and a girl to be in the same kayak together in a small cove with the manatees, even with the chaperons/parents and other students in kayaks and standing around watching, including themselves! So how could any adult there consider it permissible for a boy and girl to intentionally meet...alone at the very least without being closely chaperoned?

It seems the boy's mother was the one who had authority both over my daughter and her son in regards to allowing them to meet, but worse is that not one my daughter's three chaperons seem even consider asking my husband, who was there, if that would have been permissible with him, so the loop of communication was closed ended even though all the chaperons had the cell phone numbers of the others as well as some having walkie-talkies.

Many of those wonderful blessings God provided for the Princess as opportunities are for now just really sad reminders of what was taken away while she was trying to hide things from the very people who love her the most, could help her the most, and who will forgive her the most.

I have been having the weeping eyes syndrome off and on for about three weeks now. I go through the day with that uniquely exhausted feeling one has after a long gut wrenching cry, even though I have not had one...well, maybe in my spirit I am continually having one? I have been teetering between anger and despair. I can barely even pray because I start talking to my Lord about these things and I just end up ranting, forgetting completely that I was talking to the All Mighty. Peace eludes me or I, it.

After my husband spent much time in prayer and attempting to myself, I agreed with what he felt was God's answer: to remove our daughter from school. I was surprised that I actually feel relieved when he said it. The Princess is in a far better emotional and mental state since we found out about the incomplete school work, even with the lost of her role in the play. She has bad days still, but at least now she is also having good ones. She has been laughing and smiling and teasing like my Princess, the girl who bounces back and makes the very best of where she is with a happy heart. I see her in the cracks of her monster facade.

Perhaps we were not supposed to place her in the Home Study Center at all this year. Before we had paid our enrollment fees last spring, I felt that we should take this year off from the school. It really took a toll on my homeschooling and our relationship last year to get all her assignments and special projects done. I thought I just wanted a break and maybe that I was being selfish, but in retrospect I now think God was telling me not to do it this year. I do not mean to suggest the school is not being blessed by God, but just that it may not have been God's will for us this year and we did not really listen.

We waited to tell the Princess of our decision to remove her from school until after her piano recital on Sunday, November 15th, but we prepared her about the possibility that the school could suspend her. She withheld her emotions during that talk, waiting until her father left for another longer work trip to have it out with me alone today. She told me that she was not happy that we did not "consult" her before making the decision or at least give her the right to choose, because she wanted to continue her classes there. I raised my eyebrows: "You did make that choice. You made it quite clear that you did not really want to be in the school by your choice of actions for the past two months, like not completing your assignments, including the lying you did to hide of what you knew we would disapprove." (Ironically, we have been doing devotions for the past two months based on communication and how much more actions and body language and then tone have greater weight than the meaning of words spoken—did I not say that God has been guiding her path and stays steps ahead of her?)

There were many reasons that contributed to the decision to remove her from the school besides what I have written so far and not all the fault of the Princess, at least not directly. One was that it concerned us that she could hand in only half of her work from the very first week of school and on, yet we were not told about this until two months had passed. Since any assigned work handed in a week late only gets 80% credit and 0% after that, I would think that two to three weeks of incomplete assignments would warrant communication from the teacher to the parents.

Although I will not go into details, I have been very concerned about the boy with a crush on our daughter. I contacted his mother weeks ago and gently told her that I appreciated that her son's friendship with my daughter as it seemed to lighten her dark moods a bit, but that I also was concerned because he seemed so "focused" on her. Since I was reading everything on Hangouts they were writing to each other, I saw that he was gently but persistently pressuring my daughter to tell him how she felt about him, trying to get her to say she reciprocated his feelings. She told me that this was making her increasingly her uncomfortable and even while she continued to try to just be friends, the Princess began asking me how to stop someone from having a crush on her. Although I saw some indications before, it was after the retreat that it became increasingly obvious that this relationship was encouraged to progress against our wishes, that we were being disregarded and disrespected, and it was becoming emotionally unhealthy for both children, neither of which is ready for a relationship that lays claims on the other (as typical of going steady) evident by their own actions.

The worst of it all, I hate that I cannot trust my own daughter right now. It has been tearing me apart for weeks. I just want to hug my child with all the love I have for her to love away her self-hating thoughts and these tears that keep seeping out of my broken heart.

My Lord, I feel we are at a pivotal point and You want us to turn sharply in another direction. Please guide us to the right path that You have prepared for us and have prepared us for.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Things Work Together for Good

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28

We went to apple country last Friday and then hiked in the woods at Fort Mountain State Park, as the Princess wanted since we had not been there for six years. Sore from the hiking, Saturday I painted the last windows frames as it was a warm, dry day. The outside of all the windows are finally done.  So, by Sunday my legs were quite sore, but I helped my husband with painting the porch railing and all the visible spots are done, but I like to paint the undersides and the back of the posts at the steps on the ground too, so I still have that to do before cold weather sets in.

Understandably, I was so tired Sunday night that I was ready for bed early, but I saw on Google Hangouts, where my daughter "talks" with a classmate, that he invited her to read one of his Google docs. Out of curiosity, I looked at what she had in her own Google docs. There were a few, one written by the Princess was from the perspective of our late cat, Jamie, who typed everything in CAPS. He was worried about her for various reasons and about things she was doing and had not been doing. He was asking the intended recipient to help her, but no help would have come as the letter to her classmate was not sent nor was it accessible to him...and later I would find that she never intended to really sent it.

Now I have a rather imaginative child and writing is her main outlet of her often wildest of ideas. I try not to take most of them seriously, because at times she is just writing out things she is churning over in her brain, including some of her darkest thoughts—teens tend to have quite a few—and that is all it is. However, this one hit me rather hard. The Princess has been uncharacteristically withdrawn ever since school started and somehow it just felt that I should investigate further about the things she had written. So, then I was wide awake, unable to sleep, and not wanting to wake my daughter, who has enough difficulty falling to sleep, all this with having to prepare for her classes in the morning.

Although I was still concerned, most of the urgency from the preceding night had left me in the morning with focusing on just getting everything packed for the day of errands. We were in the van completely ready to go with the keys in the ignition and she was settling in her seat when it all came to a halt.

I saw something that made everything my sweet, little Princess had written an absolute alarming truth, rather than abstract ravings from a creative teenage mind. Realizing that I had seen something she only halfheartedly had hidden, she immediately was in tears.

At first I was angry, but it was only out of shock. I told her we were going back into the house and there I was rather calm when I asked her why she would do such a thing and she yelled out in fear and frustration that she was failing at school, that she had not been handing in her work since school began!

I just could not believe it! How many times had I asked her if she needed help? The same number of times she would say, "No, I'm fine." How many times did I ask her if she had gotten all her assignments done? The same number of times she had said, "Yes." How many times had I trusted her and not looked everything over? The same number of times she had lied to me over a two month period. How many times do I tell her that I love her, give her hugs (well, try to), and tell her how special she is to me, to her father, and to God? Probably as many times as she had been rejecting it all. I was hoping it was just one of those teenage phases that would be passing...eventually.

I called the school telling them she would not be in classes and that I needed her teachers to call when they could, because part of me felt she was still exaggerating it to be worse than it was and I needed to verify her claims with the teachers. However if it was true, I was not going to be too happy they had not brought this to my attention weeks ago. I also left a message for her piano teacher saying we would not be there. And I called my husband, but apparently he was at an account where his cell phone has no bars, so I had to wait for him to call back. By then I was past my initial shock, ready to deal with everything alone from where we were in that moment, and seriously wanting to seek out what had been troubling my child, because that was far more important to me than school work and grades.

I also realized that she had been producing these little tells as her way of crying out for help, even as she had been rejecting it; hoping to be discovered, even though she feared it, and wanting it out of her, even though she tried to keep it a secret. She had stopped crying after the truth erupted from her earlier and there was no yelling left in her. Apparently, she had blurted out this terrible secret that she had been trying to hide for weeks and now that it was out (and I did not kill her, as she put it) she was actually talking with me openly about her fears and what she had been doing. She said she was also afraid that we would kick her out, even though we have NEVER made that threat.

It is kind of ironic, in a way, I had just written the encouragement letter to her that they will give her on high school science retreat that she is leaving for early tomorrow morning and I wrote it based on the Christian song "More Than You Think I Am" because I felt she had all these ideas about who I was as her mother and how I would respond to things, but she did not really understand the love I have for her and the grace I am ready to show her. I am telling you that God has been guiding this child very heavily from all angles, even while she was making very poor choices.

The algebra teacher called. This is the only teacher that she had last year, so she knows how different my daughter has been this year and we talked once before about our concerns. She told me that the Princess was behind in handing in some work, but she was not worried about the math, as she is rather bright in class, but she was far more concerned about her emotional state. I asked for a list of what was not turned in. I got it the next day and she was being very forgiving, because she only listed the last three weeks and was forgiving the rest. When I compared my daughter's list yesterday showing she handed in a little less than half and saw how she was not recalling how to do the work, I made the decision that she would do all of it with me so that she would actually learn it—that what homeschooling is really about after all, really learning not just testing well.

My husband called back finally and came home immediately, which was about an hour later as he was in town. Thank you, Lord. He had that time to drive to think out his initial anger response and was quite calm as he talked with her, but she was in a completely different frame of mind by then. She was initially worried that he was going to be angry, but after she realized that he was not going to "kill" her either, as she put it, nor kick her out of the house, she was actually smiling! I have not seen but a handful of genuine smiles since school started! My husband had to go back to work.

Afterward, I received a call from to her first science teacher, who only had her for September and then will have her for most of the second semester, and asked for a list of her incomplete work. Her current science teacher was too busy with the upcoming retreat, but I know she will get back to me when she can.

At dinner on Monday, my daughter was the child I had always known before all of this. She was talking! She laughed! She joked around! She was holding her head up instead of trying to hide and look down all the time! Her eyes twinkled! I turned toward my husband with an incredulous happy look and he said it was as if a great weight had been lifted.

We had taken all day Monday and Tuesday off for mental health days so that our emotions could stabilize: I can be the pillar of calm reasoning in a crisis but I have been known crash to an emotional puddle when it is mostly over and, for the Princess, we are hoping she settles in that happier state we are still seeing. We talked a lot about her fear of failing was actually resulting in her making choices that would cause her to fail. We talked about how everything she did and did not do so far is fixable and all can heal, and that we have flexibility because she is in a homeschool school taught by caring Christian homeschooling parents.

Wednesday we began tackling the overdue math assignments. All of my homeschooling lessons will be put on hold until we have everything with her outside classes caught up and I think it will take at least three weeks, but I also think that the Princess will feel much better once it is done.

I am hoping she has learned that avoiding things can allow them to grow into overwhelming problems so it is better to take them head on when they are smaller and more manageable; that asking for help is not showing weakness but showing faith in God that He will provide the knowledge needed; that accepting help when offered is honoring God because He had provided the help she needs; that God's grace overflows from the people He has placed in her life, including her parents (who did not "kill" her); and that we really do love her more than she can possibly understand almost as much a God does. So, in the end, maybe it was just one of those teenage phases, a temporary lapse of good judgment that just overwhelmed her quickly. I have that hope.

My Lord, thank you for always guiding my daughter back to You when she has made poor choices. May this lesson stay strong with her and may she be accepting of help. Please, my Lord, lavish Your blessings on all the people who have been praying for her.

Monday, October 19, 2015

More Broken Things!

God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. ~Vance Havner

Enough already! Two weeks ago Dragon Heart's (my mini-van) the power window on the diver's side stop working in the closed position and my husband said to be grateful it got stuck closed rather than open. My husband fixed it that weekend. Sunday (yesterday) we were set to go to church in Dragon Heart and I was sitting on the passenger side, lowered my window to say something to Midnight, my cat, and the window would not go back up. In fact, when I pushed the button to have it go up it went down the rest of the way. We vacated it and went to church in the new vehicle.

So, Sunday afternoon, instead of uninstalling and then reinstalling the dishwasher that is apparently having a temperamental float switch possibly because it is not as level as it thinks it should be or it is stuck somehow, my husband replaced the power window, except he found out that he also needed to replace the switch. He will pick up the switch today and hopefully be home this week to replace it.

Today while I am out doing that stuff I do on Mondays, my husband is planning to get the dishwasher working and maybe install the new range. This will be after he sells the old dishwasher to a used appliance store and gets the new power window switch.

I have to say that at least, at the very least, we got to take the new vehicle and use that sun roof on the perfect day to have it open with sunshine and temperatures in the low 60's. It was great! This is me being grateful.

Still, just about everything I touch of late seems to be breaking or getting lost.

However, last night I fixed the Princess' camera. Not sure how exactly, but the error code is gone and it is working now. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on her cell phone; it just may need a new battery or resetting the battery indicator, not sure which. I just never have seen a battery indicator go backwards before. I mean, it starts out fully charge but also with a reading that it has a few seconds left on in the battery and as long as the phone is on or in sleep mode, the time on the battery time goes up! No, I did not touch before her cell phone before this began happening, I promise you.

My Lord, thank you for reminding me that broken things can be blessings.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Key Aspect

Gratitude turns what we have into enough. ~Author Unknown

As you know we had to buy a vehicle under duress, but God was good bringing us to the vehicle He had prepared for us. I appreciated that very much, but in truth I was still resentful about having to go into debt for a vehicle, so that my husband would not be fired, even though it is likely that his old van might not have made it for another year as we had been hoping.

As you also know our dishwasher decided to quit on us and we could have replaced the control panel for the second time (we replaced the grinder once also with a much louder one), but it if they only were lasting about four years with each replacement on this model, it just seemed to be more cost effective to buy a new one with better reviews and an extended warranty.

What you do not know is that as we came to the second appliance store looking for our dishwasher, I realized that I had lost the key to the new vehicle and only that key. It was not on my main key ring, but on the hook with it.

Of course, it is not the average key either—oh, no! It has the remote to open the doors is in the key itself. So, we spent time retracing all our steps, but we did not find it. As I thought about it, I could have lost it anytime from the previous Sunday, the only I drove the new vehicle was to pick up the Princess from play practice, and I just now noticed it that Saturday.

For the following days I called every place I had been in the past week. One actually had a remote Ford all by itself, but it was not our key, because the teeth of the key was on the outer edge and ours is a laser cut, so the outside of the key is straight and the teeth are in the middle.

Keys used to be so simple, but technology complicates everything. Between the laser cut and the programming of the remote, this is a $300 key. Not kidding!

Then I found myself thinking of Jonah sitting with a good view to watch the destruction of Nineveh still seething with resentment for having to do something he most definitely had not wanted to do. God even provided him some comfort in the shade and then He took it away.

I really should have been more grateful for the new vehicle and more careful with its special, high-priced key, which is now on my main key ring in a highly respected place and a key reminder of how to properly be grateful...and every day I am very grateful it is there!

Thank you, my Lord, for reminding me that a key aspect of being truly grateful is to not have any resentment.

Friday, October 16, 2015

An Enchantress for the Lord

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.
~Jewish Proverb

A few weeks ago, a lady at our church, who works with the younger children, prayed over all the teen helpers, including the Princess. A few days later, my daughter asked about what "enchantress" meant. I asked her why she was asking because I felt that she already knew what it commonly would mean. It was then that she told me the lady told her she was an enchantress. Again, I am not one to get highly concerned about such things because of two reasons:
  1. Teenagers often wrongly tell about or leave out key details about such experiences, even though they are not intentionally hiding anything or trying to deceive. 
  2. If such a word was a message from God, then it must have a completely different and anointed meaning in His realm than most Christians would associate with it.
At the time, I told my daughter that since there is nothing that God would promote that was associated with evil, then I would see the use of that word as associated with her being enchanting or charming in the way that she is as a captivating performer, whether it be performing at the piano or acting.

However, my daughter also started asking me about the population in Florida, about whether or not Fidel Castro was still alive, and concerns about Russia and China. She has had difficulty falling sleeping at night for the last few years, but recently she began having serious problems with it. She was not sleeping at all or very little with black circles under her eyes. I learned later that she was actually trying not to sleep on purpose. Remember that I am empathic so take a guess who also was beginning to have the same problems.

After quite some time in prayer and quite a few talks with quite a few people besides the Princess, including one with the lady who prayed for her, I think I finally have a better picture of what happened and is happening. The lady, who has the gift of prophetic dreams and visions, prayed over her and heard the word "enchantress," but did not say that my daughter was one. She did not feel it was meant to be a warning or condemnation and she had explained to my daughter that she did not feel it meant anything to do with witchcraft or magic, a point my daughter failed to mention. In fact, the lady told her that she felt it meant about the same thing I had thought it might mean.

Since then, the Princess has been having what she believes are prophetic visions and dreams of the End Times. She tells me that only a "handful" make it out of Florida, which becomes flooded, and a key point in her visions is that what she is seeing begins after the death of Fidel Castro. Then there are attacks on the east and west coasts by Russia and China. She even made a map showing what parts of the United States come under occupation.

Scary stuff to say the least. Now I completely understand why she has been so depressed for a few weeks. I think if I were having these same visions and dreams that would be a basket case myself, so I can only imagine what a fourteen year old might be feeling.

I am mindful that this gift happened after someone with the same gift prayed for her, because being empathic I have been influenced by other people's gifts when I touch them or am close or on rarer occasions when I am thinking or praying for them. However, it is more like a temporary borrowing that lasts just for that time not something that lasts for weeks as with the Princess. I still believe her main gift is in her performing talents, although one person told me she is a seer as she seems to have an awareness of the spiritual realm and I have seen some empathic tendencies in her as well.

I feel I need to address the "enchantress" thing, because the overwhelming response from my Christian friends have been how "enchantress" had an occult influence that would appeal to the Princess. I have prayed for her protection and for God's guidance of her since she was born, but particularly now. I have been very mindful of her in this respect before this incident for this is the age when the Christian women in my family, who became the most steadfast in their faith, were strongly drawn by the occult, but God always guided us—yes, that included me—away from it and gave us strong discernment to recognize it from that time on. I think this is kind of what my daughter is going through right now, so I also believe that she was given that word from God.

Enchantress is a word that has two meanings in the English language:
  1. a woman who practices magic; sorceress.
  2. an irresistibly charming or fascinating woman.

Looking in the Bible, I could only find these four words in Hebrew:
אָשַׁף  ashaph: (noun) a conjurer, enchanter
נָחַשׁ  nachash: (verb) to practice divination, observe signs
עָנַן  anan: (verb) to bring, but also associated with enchanter, observer of times, soothsayer, sorcerer
לָ֫חַשׁ  lachash: (noun) a whispering, charming

Obviously, most uses for these words in the Bible are nothing with which a Christian would want to be associated, BUT some of the uses are not bad at all. In fact, Isaiah 26:16, lachash is translated as a "whispered prayer!" In Genesis 9:14, God used anan to describe how He would bring clouds to make a rainbow. In Strong's Dictionary nachash also means to learn by experience, diligently observe, and even observe signs, and I know quite a few Christians who have been observing and looking for signs particularly of late with the four blood moons.

I believe its meaning was more associated with seeing signs given to my daughter to serve both as a reminder how easy it is to be seduced by Satan to use a gift in a way that does not please her Lord and also to describe her gift. Plus, she is very charming, particularly on stage, and I believe it is that gift God means to use the most to bring people to Christ. So, to me it means a charming woman with the gift of observing signs meant to be used to bring Christ to people and people to Christ because of her love for Him. That was what I believe (and also the woman who prayed over her) that God wanted the Princess to understand.

This is not the first time that I have had this kind of experience that goes against the grain in mainstream Christianity. God also gave me a gift that most Christians, including me originally, have judged as highly questionable if not down right evil. However, I know the months I spent in prayer and fasting to be sure I had God's complete approval—of a gift He gave to me, no less!— and He gave me confirmation time and time again from differing sources, even when I still would not accept His answer. I am so thankful God is so patient with stubborn Christians, who want to keep Him in a box.

I have had pastors and even very close friends tell me flat out that my gift of empathy was not a named gift in the Bible or too far removed from what they believe that they did not want anything to do with me anymore, but I have had other friends actually seek God on the matter and were given confirmation of His approval. I know, without a doubt, it came from God; I remember the moment I was given it like it was just yesterday. My Christian friends would rather describe it as a Word of Knowledge and that is fine with me; on the other hand, it just is what it is, it whatever you call it, and God gave it to me. I call it empathy because that describes it the best, like a sub category under a Word of Knowledge. The empathy works with the gift of healing, so I am aware of what a person needs in the way of healing even when they do not. Empathy was a gift I asked for, sort of; I did not ask to be empathic specifically, I simply asked to know what was wrong with people and the gift of empathy obviously was His answer.

I know this will not be a popular post and I am open to discussing anything here. I would just like to bring up a few other terms used by Christians and non-Christians and even Occultists: healer, seer, and prophet. My point is that the word "enchantress" in God's Kingdom cannot have a bad meaning and I choose to live in God's Kingdom. So, if my Lord has said my daughter is an enchantress, then it must have a holy meaning honoring Him that has been twisted by evil in our fallen world and I choose to see it through His heart and I believe that is where He has led me.

My Lord, I do not understand everything in Your Kingdom. I am a child hungry for the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom You will provide for my daughter, my husband, and me. Help me be strong when I need to be strong, have my eyes and heart open to what You wish me to see, and be Your humble student always.