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Dorothea's-eyes

Book Review: Dorothea’s Eyes Reveal What We Cannot See

 


The truth, seen with love, becomes the art of Dorothea

 

During a trip to the library with my children, I perused the aisles of picture books nestled tightly between chipped wooden shelves. I was drawn to a table with select titles and was immediately drawn to the figure on the cover of a woman looking through the accordion of a camera. Not knowing exactly who Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895 -October 11, 1965) was, I proceeded to the check-out desk. Later as I prepared my toddler for an afternoon nap, I started reading the pages of this book to her and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Lange’s photographs were recognizable to me. I knew of her work, but I was about to learn who exactly she was.

 

 

In Dorothea’s Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth (library) writer Barb Rosenstock and artist Gérard DuBois reveal Lange’s beautiful interpretation of love and truth captured in her photographs. Her lens took a remarkable shot at the lives that otherwise were ignored: the poor, the destitute, the miserable.

The book follows Lange from her childhood enclosed in the environment of her New Jersey home where she observes the faces of her family to the scary diagnosis of her polio at age seven. Chief to her predicament is the invisibility she feels as kids taunt her with names and her inability to walk as she did before fuels her visual sense, to see even though she ironically is unseen.

Dorothea’s parents fight over money and at the age of twelve, her father abandons the family. To make up for the loss, her mother begins work at a library where the hours are long. So Dorothea begins to blend into her new school comprised mainly of poor immigrants.

 

As she waits for her mother at the library, Dorothea is drawn by her curiosity of people in their crowded tenements. She sees fathers and mothers and babies going about their business at the close of the day, maintaining a safe distance between herself and them, but bringing herself close enough with her eyes.

 

 

Marking the narrative of a life seemingly lived in the shadows of society is Lange’s decisive moment—her declaration to pursue photography, which her family perceived to be unladylike. To placate her family’s disapproval, she attends teacher training school but continues pursuing photography at Columbia University and works in portrait studios.

Dorothea’s love for faces is what she wants to show the world. She learns all she can in the studios and becomes knowledgeable about camera mechanics: shutter, lens, aperture. She helps in the darkroom that she built from a chicken coop with another photographer and is able to see faces reveal themselves on the wet printed paper, diminished from invisibility, coming into full view.

But Lange’s eyes wanted to behold new places and faces. At twenty-three, she set out to tour the world but was derailed when her money was stolen in San Francisco. She planted herself there and bloomed in her own portrait studio.

 

Although art is heavily influenced by the environment, sensibility and pathology of who creates it, Lange’s work was fueled by a particular era in American history:

The stock market crash in 1929, which ushered in the Great Depression, was the economic downturn that hurt the lives of many families. And Dorothea’s eyes couldn’t look away: they saw the sad, the lost, and the crowds of men with cups in their hands, waiting for a piece of bread. She captures one man’s face in a sea of others that are not visible in her photograph, “White Angel Bread Line” (San Francisco, 1933).

 

white-angel-bread-line-dorothea-lange

“White Angel Bread Line” (Photograph: Archives.gov)

 

 

Dorothea’s friends don’t see the value in her taking photos of the poor, but her heart is what keeps her pointing and shooting their most honest circumstances.

 

 

 

Despite Dorothea’s comfortable life as a photographer in San Francisco, where she made portraits of the most affluent families in California, securing herself financially and starting a family, there was something that continued to unsettle her about those she saw on the street and their condition.

She takes her camera to fields where workers earn only pennies for their labor. She witnesses mothers and children who are sick and thirsty, who live in jalopies. She recognizes the ignored of the land, those that live in the shadows, and extends her heart to them. She reaches out to them, asking them about themselves, asking to photograph them, as she sees the goodness in their face, despite what the world may perceive.

She travels the country for the U.S. Farm Security Administration and photographs many of the destitute—the homeless, the hungry, the jobless—despite the pain she carries, not only in her heart for them but the hurt she has in her leg as well.

 

migrant-mother-dorothea-lange

“Migrant Mother.” (Photograph: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Dorothea’s photographs brought national attention to the condition of the poor and jobless and thus, the government is moved to provide parents with their most significant needs: work, food, and shelter.

On October 11, 1965, Dorothea died from cancer of the esophagus. She was seventy years old.

 

dorothea-lange

“Dorothea Lange, 1936.” (Photograph: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Today, Dorothea’s photographs are a flagship to American history, documenting our country’s most vulnerable season in the 20th century. The depth that a face can evoke has more significance to the condition of a country than meets the eye. Lange’s work is collected all over the country in museums such as the Oakland Museum of California, the Museum of Modern Art, the Cleveland Museum, and countless others. Dorothea’s Eyes teaches us to see with our hearts before anything else. Barb Rosenstock and artist Gérard DuBois deserve special admiration for their warm expression of Lange’s coming of age story, depicting how she contended with her physical condition, which contributed to her keen sensibility for the conditions of others. To emphasize the depth of Lange’s complexity, the bolder, or gray and red text noted throughout affirms that urgency she saw with her own eyes, her vision of what is left unseen to any other observer.

Pair Dorothea’s Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth with another delightfully illustrated biography celebrating another icon in history, Thomas Jefferson.

 

Illustrations © Gérard DuBois courtesy of Calkins Creek.

 


 

Dorothea's Eyes Reveal What We Cannot See. The truth, seen with love, becomes the art of Dorothea. Click to read and respond.

Why We Should Continue Protecting Our Sons

Protecting our sons in a headline culture that seeks to destroy them

 

As I drove my boys to a new neighborhood in the area, we heard on the radio about a recall drive to oust a judge who gave a light sentence to Brock Turner, the Stanford student who was convicted in March of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at a fraternity party in January 2015. The light sentence drew harsh criticism from prosecutors and advocates and prompted widespread fury on social media because Turner received only six months in jail and three years of probation after a judge became worried that a stiffer sentence would have a “severe impact” on the 20-year-old. (Source: Washington Post)

The outrage of this injustice is palpable.

This morning, I looked at a video of another case involving a mom who protected her daughter from a madman attempting to kidnap her, in broad daylight, at a dollar store. He was caught running away in the store parking lot by an off-duty officer. If that isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is.

When I look at the headlines that clamor through our media outlets about all the wickedness in our society, what comes to my mind is Noah in the age of the flood, spared from total destruction by the mighty hand of God. What would compel God to end it all except for Noah’s family?

 

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

 

Take a moment to imagine the biblical age, and then wonder for a moment the degree of evil that moved the hand of God to bring justice across the entire land with the power of destruction. I’m sure many who perished in the flood cried for mercy, too late however.

Today we cry for justice. We can see when someone has been wronged, when something is not right, when a sentence is unfair. The case in Stanford gives us pause—not because it’s yet another tragic incident in our country, not because it is abhorrent how the judge ruled a sentence—but because it’s time we took a look at the crisis our boys face in the 21st century.

I homeschool my children and wherever we find ourselves at any given time of the week, I am vigilant. In college, I took a self-defense course that taught me the modes of self-awareness, of relying on our instinct to warn us of impending danger, of using our voice to scream and our bodies to fight against assaults. Some in my class were already victims of a crime, while some were preparing themselves for a new life in college, a predatory zone. We were all women. We were trained to be vigilant.

We can deduce that perhaps Turner, the perpetrator, is without God, but I’ll choose to be silent on the matter; I don’t care to entertain conjecture. He was once a boy, who developed through his formative years under the care of those who raised him. Now we, as parents who homeschool (perhaps), need to have a conversation about what is happening in our world today. When we see wickedness, what do we do about it; what will our sons and our daughters do about it? The Stanford rape case prompts a response from all of us who have children, regardless of where they are educated or what age they are.

As we raise our boys to become men, it’s fine to celebrate that sweetness they possess as little ones yet to be fully draped with the rough edges endowed by their father, this armor that will shape them for battle in a world that prompts them to dodge all its daggers. The enemy is at work to bring to perdition our sons and we must fight for them to be formed in holiness by our Lord.

 

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” Ephesians 2:1

 

As mothers, how do we raise our boys to be men? How do we project a sweet spirit when we are worn, a meekness when we are frustrated, a quietness when we are boiling over?

 

“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 1 John 5:19

 

I hold on by a string sometimes, recalling in those precarious moments of distress the essence of my calling as a mom, how much I wanted to do my labor and delivery by the book. I was only two years into my marriage when I gave birth to my first child, a child I remember taking to the window of the hospital at dawn, praising God for His grace to bestow me such a gift. My little guy, who at only 6 lbs 15 ozs, was the embodiment of greatness and fortitude. This little guy, years later, would become a force to be reckoned with. I wasn’t alone as my mother was when she birthed and raised me. I had a husband and a life filled with God’s grace and the redemption of the Saviour.

When I was sent home into motherhood without the pampering of nurses and doctors to direct my handling of my newborn, I was amazed that it was just my baby, me and my husband left to root ourselves in a new life. We would bloom where we’d be planted and water our lives with the word of God to grow strong in His purpose. Now we continue to define our lives by God’s terms and do our best to raise our two boys and girl in His strength, for His glory. I struggle to get a hold of all that is urged of me, because truthfully, my husband and I are pioneering through the road of homeschooling, something unfamiliar to our families. We’re taking a new direction for our lives by homeschooling, trusting in the Lord every day. We don’t want to rust out on this, or become complacent.

Our children should see a picture of Christ in our marriage, one that is selfless, that magnifies Him in word and in deed. It’s not easy to do as it goes contrary to social norms, to family traditions. It is a swim against the current, to teach our children to have self-respect, to live in a dignified way, to do something when injustice is in full view; to stand up for something, lest they fall for everything, as the saying goes. Teaching our boys to treat girls with kindness because if they don’t, they’ll leave them scarred, like I was as a child, the memory of it not easily shaken off after all these years. Like the victim in the Stanford case said: “My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me.”

 

We need to teach our boys to fight for the victim. God did, and we should too. He fought for the woman who was about to be bludgeoned to death with stones and He rescued her from a life of sin. We need to be compassionate for those who are lost. If we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be used of Him to help a lost person find their way to freedom from the chains of sin. As we do this, we also should stick up for those who are treated unfairly. Women, being the weaker vessel, doesn’t signify God thinks less of them; but rather, He knows they are to be given honor because for them He died too. And let’s remember that God knows women better than we do. Let’s point to our sons the women in the Bible that were used as vessels in fulfilling God’s purpose. Esther, Mary, Rahab, Sara, and on and on the list goes. God loves us all and He wants to use us, but we must decide to follow Him first, to give of ourselves as He did, to live our lives to magnify His name, not ours.

 

We need to teach our boys that sin destroys. The liberal media is an expert at painting a broad brush on gun ownership, but it bears narrowing the stroke a bit: People with guns who kill should be prosecuted. People who drink alcohol and commit crimes should be prosecuted. The root cause here is the same: people. And the culprit is sin. Sin abounds and as parents we should warn our children of all its manifestations. I was convicted about one thing when my eldest son was attending a private Christian school. His classmate had a backpack of an immoral celebrity athlete and I thought to myself, Is this his hero? Why are sinful men praised by Christian just because they can play ball and have wealth? These are anti-heroes and our children would be wise to not seek them to model their lives after.

 

We need to teach our daughters that it is fine to not give themselves freely to everyone. It is not a character flaw to be guarded and to retain a gentle distance. My daughter has what I never did; she has copious amounts of sweet personality and a friendly spirit. We call her our diamond in the rough. I’ve said she’s cake and my boys are gravy. At the library, she invites other little girls to be her friend. She gets rejected most times, with no response at all, or with a blatant no from these little strangers, but my girl has tough skin. She can move onto another corner of the playground and discover more of what she’s capable of there. I look at this as God preparing her for the hard lessons in life, as young as she is. Not everyone will like her. Not everyone is nice. Not everyone is a friend. Our daughters have to find their value in the gifts that God has given them so they can exalt His name in all that they do.

I read a meme somewhere that admonished moms to be closer to their children than to their husbands because, their contention is, children stay in your life forever, and husbands cheat and leave. This is a sad testament to what the world thinks of the family and its order, as it doesn’t pattern itself after God’s design.

If our boys in this age are to walk Christ-like, we need to first pattern our marriage as the self-sacrificing mystery it is, the unfailing love of God that is the foundation of Christ’s death on the cross. He gave His life for us and thus, we give our lives for our spouses. Our children pick up on this model and will follow it but it needs to be ever so present in their lives, for they one day will bring it to bear when they form their own families. And this will become what they hinge to when our sons, eventually, find their own bride.

 

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22

 

As parents of sons, we must educate our boys to take responsibility for their decisions. As godly men stand alone in the face of the world that waits as a predator to bring them to ruin, we must (as moms raising boys to become men) allow them to get hurt. There’s no redemptive quality in the letter from Brock Turner’s father, who defends his convicted son in a manner that doesn’t hold his son’s feet to the fire of accountability and responsibility. I remember as an adjunct at a community college assigning work to my writing class with ample time to prepare before it was due. A student came to me in the eleventh hour to ask for help. He had started nothing on the assignment. I recall telling him he was going to fail. As in life outside the classroom, it takes no effort to fail. Harder it is to gain victories because we must keep our hand to the plow and do our due diligence.

Let’s not wait until the eleventh hour to teach our boys responsibility. Let’s not make excuses when they’ve decided to live unrighteously. Let’s teach them to love the Lord, to model Christ’s love for all—men, women, and children—and His protection of them, those orphans, those widows as well. When we see a lost person we know they are without the heavenly Father, and in this way, they are likened to orphans. Let’s remember to love them and to love Christ enough to see them with His eyes and lets continue protecting our sons.

 


As we raise our boys to become men, it’s fine to celebrate that sweetness they possess as little ones yet to be fully draped with the rough edges endowed by their father, this armor that will shape them for battle in a world that prompts them to dodge all its daggers. The enemy is at work to bring to perdition our sons and we must fight for them to be formed in holiness by our Lord. Read more by clicking here.

What Occupies Our Time Will Tell Us Who We Are

How to keep from becoming victims of anti-social devices by detoxing from the screen


 

I hide myself within my flower, 

That fading from your vase,

You unsuspecting feel for me

Almost a loneliness.

-Emily Dickinson

 


 

The noise becomes loud enough to cause my head to hurt. My heart aches. And then my eyes get blurry. This is my natural reaction to screen time, when I read something, when I spend too much time hovering over clicks and tabs.

For a while, my mother was telling me to put away my device. To leave it out of sight when I am at the table with her. Convicting thoughts.

I remember in college, I would plug into my headset Walkman (yes, those were the devices then) and one of my classmates appeared to my face to ask me a question. The music in my ears was loud enough to block out his voice, and so once I turned down the volume with the rotary knob, he said, Please take off your anti-social device.

I’ll never forget that rebuke, and well, now the anti-social devices –  an oxymoron at best, figuratively – have full control of our lives. We are tethered to those very gripping entities of technology, a hypnosis that keeps us engaged, this new stronghold of the age.

It’s no surprise that it’s entered not only the physical culture or family fellowship, but it’s also infiltrated the aesthetics of photography. I tweeted once that why on earth is there nothing but people being photographed with their mobile devices on stock photo sites. As I am looking for stock images, free photos for my blog, I come to find a plethora of photos with laptops, people looking at their devices, people disconnected from the next human at arms length.

We become victims, don’t we, of these pushers, these guests into our lives that overstay their welcome, these anchors that keep our fingers active, gingerly pushing virtual buttons of like and share before any captured memory becomes a frame in time, dismissed into oblivion.

We engage, touch, look, giggle, grimace, even, and then it’s over. The time has passed. And then we wonder, why we stifle our longing for fluid conversation which organically transpires only between ourselves and someone else.

And then we wonder why we stifle the longing we carry for fluid conversation.

The Bible says in Philippians 1 verse 27:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

This passage is convicting. All too often, I’ve discovered, that so much time is lost by the stirring up of contention between other believers in the faith instead of uniting against the opposition. On social media, our screens can become hazy, our vision can be obscured.


 

 

I took a long walk with my three children in tow the other day. We completed our chores that morning, ate breakfast, and were off to take a walk through a neighborhood we’d never seen.

We took the back roads to avoid busy boulevards that fill me with fright – my littlest may see a playful pet on the street and run after it without looking both ways!

 

 

We came across this treasure trove of literature. Onward we went, having collected three pencils (of all things!) and discovered a few men laboring over their work, mowing lawns, trimming hedges, nailing together pieces of lumber to build a home for someone paying top dollar. We looked at mysterious gardens with curiosity, my eldest reminding my other son to stay off the yards of those who live here. There was no sidewalk on our route, so we stopped only to huddle whenever a car would pass by us. Then we’d decompress, loosening our shoulders, proceeding to delight ourselves with the beauty of God’s layered blossoms.

 

“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Luke 12:27

 

That day outdoors spawned a new curiosity for us because we were able to see our neighboring areas up close. It wasn’t through a screen, but through the lens of our bare eyes, without the preoccupation of anything pressuring us to move quickly. We looked fondly on our day out of doors and recalled how much we take for granted. Even though our landscape is saturated with urban noise, we can stroll through a few pockets from time to time where the silence is only interrupted by a few falling leaves, or a twig breaking in our wake, or even a few words quietly drawing our attention.

 

 

Even my daughter’s body language is figurative, commanding what nature calls us to do: look, listen, and recognize what we have that in no other time we can see and experience but for now.

 

Untether yourself from your device. Go smell a rose.

 

Everyone seems to be looking at their phone when they walk outside, when they wait in the car, when they can’t find words to say to the person next to them. Anything you need is right here, says the mobile device. Where is the room for novel thoughts, for thoughtful ideas? Where’s creativity?

I was listening to a radio podcast and learned that there are actual retreats for adults, like summer camps for children, but these retreats are focused on digital detoxing. Don’t misunderstand, these retreats are not meant for individuals to disconnect and escape, but they are rather meant to be a place where people can connect with each other and find things that they never thought they could do, like learn an instrument or cook bread. Now that is a novel idea, at least nowadays. What’s amazing even in these cases of retreating for a digital detox is that participants are so addicted to their life in the digital world that they feel the need to ask for permission to be off-the-grid for a while.

In a time when the phone takes us anywhere we want to go by leaving reality to tear through the veil of artifice and into a shared world where everyone seems to be a focal point of attention, I think of what my children will inherit one day. What will they do, or say? Will they say, “Thanks for choosing humanity, in lieu of devices. Thanks for the eye contact, for touch, for talking with me instead of with a digital profile of myself.”

 


The average person spends about 11 hours onscreen. I think about why people define themselves by what they do, instead of by what they love, or what they do for fun? When we’re asked what our hobbies are, sometimes we don’t know. Our hobbies are paper thin. We’re asked what we do for a living and it’s easy to answer as that is how we are defined, that is how we are boxed and packaged. This is how we are manufactured. Our occupation is what consumes our day. What occupies our time, is the question.

Maybe it’s time we stopped talking about our occupation with other adults. Children certainly don’t talk about what occupies their time most of the day (homeschool, etc). I’ve overheard my children talk to other children and their topics of discussion revolve around their hobbies, the new things they’ve discovered when they went to play at the park, the things they get to do outside of what occupies their time most of the day. Children don’t need introductions other than to get familiar with each other for some time until they discover what it is that connects them with each other.

So we can get rid of push notifications on our devices, once and for all. After all, aren’t we the master and not the slave to our media?

 


What occupies our time will be very telling of who we are. Click to find out how to detox from those devices, those anti-social devices and smell the roses instead.

Why You Should Tell the Truth Despite the Outcome

When a Christian no longer wants to listen to truth

 


We call ourselves Christians because we are believers in Christ.  And who was He? Who is He?

Truth. He is truth.

I recently experienced a situation in which for years I’ve been burdened about one particular relative who has compromised her faith within the walls of secular humanism, a religion at war with God. She insists that she is in the center of God’s will. Since she strongly believes this deception, I decided to write her a letter motivated by love, forewarning her of the clever devices the enemy uses to entrap the most unsuspecting of believers, those who with all good intentions want to make a difference in the world.

Every word I wrote to her in the letter was motivated from having taught in secular higher education, until ultimately finding my way out of that matrix of humanism. I explained how God had taken me through a maze in order to get me to see what His will was—His undeniable will—and how I have since kept my hand to the plow without looking back.

When she said that she considered her workplace a mission field, I remembered a time when I felt that way about it too. I remember wanting so much to make an impact, to share the gospel with those that were lost, to encourage existing believers that were in my midst. At the time, I may have planted a seed here and there, but at the end of the day, who was I really fooling when by federal mandate, secular schools are at war with God? It’s as if I was working for Balaam, the one who knew that if the Israelites adopted pagan ways, God would not bless them as He had done. As it turned out, the Israelites allowed the pagans to influence them, instead of standing firm on the sure Word of God and His Holy Law. Is it any wonder, then, that many working for Balaam today would be convinced that what they are doing is good? Doesn’t this resonate with how Satan convinced Eve that the fruit he offered her was good too?

 

Photo by Brenda Godinez on Unsplash

 

I am not one to pass judgment, to condemn, but knowing that God’s judgment is very real, we can only say, woe to him that falls in the hands of an angry God!

When the one we admonish is unwilling to listen, it is time to dissolve the conversation. Admonishing becomes of no good use to someone who is taken by the deceptive allusions of the enemy. Sadly, she may fool herself and fool countless others, but eventually she will be unable to defend herself against the truth, today or tomorrow. God will not let fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness go unrecognized. God may have mercy and may long-suffer, but we need to suspend the platitudes of conditional convenience: if God allowed us to be in a particular job or place, then it must be God’s will.

Can we tell that to Lot?

What becomes apparent is that when the world has a stronghold on someone who is washed by the blood of Christ, it becomes very hard for her to see anything clearly.

 

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. Titus 3:9-11

 

There comes a time when as believers, we are commanded to admonish one another. Sadly, no matter how many attempts are made in love and kindness to warn others in the faith—whether we tip-toe around the topic, or mildly approach the matter, or become bold as lions with conviction to confront an issue—they will not drink from the vessel of truth. Paul says that a believer who refuses to be corrected should be put outside the fellowship, for he is “condemned of himself.”

At this time, the conversation ends. We needn’t continue a conversation lest we end up with vain babblings, at which time it is wise to leave it all up to God. We can trust that we’ve done our part to bring the error to the believer’s attention, and we’ve tried “the spirits to see if they are of God.” We’ve described what God has taught us in the process, and how it has brought us to sackcloth and ashes.

It may be automatic to respond by the shaking of our head in regret for that soul who sorely misunderstood us, who is puffed up in pride and self-proclaimed humility that any biblical challenge only becomes a threat. Any biblical challenge fights with the consuming vanity that besets the erroneous believer. When we admonish someone who is cemented in their pride, it is only by a miracle that they’ll be able to see clearly. Like my husband said to me about this: Keep your pearls. Sometimes your rebuke will be met with hostility.

 

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Matthew 7:6

 

And it is unfortunate to see a Christian compromise the faith, unwilling to stand courageously in full obedience to God. I’ve seen rebellious spirits crushed in order to make room for steps to be taken to please God. Only the Holy Spirit can remove the stronghold of pride. I know this to be true in my own life. I didn’t see myself as an instrument of a lie and seeing the truth wasn’t very clear to me. It was only through obedience to the Holy Spirit that I came to realize how mistaken I was to proceed with a career in secular education, where my soul was vexed and made to wander in hopeless pursuits of what in the Old Testament Solomon called vanity.

I trust that it will take something monumental to draw my relative to righteousness, to bring her to a point of sackcloth and ashes. My futile attempts to keep her from falling into a ditch are too small compared to what God can do. It will take more than what I say to her, more than all the scriptures I’ve referenced, more than any prayer I can cry out to God on her behalf. I need to remember that God, as much as He long-suffers, remains just and may not bring grace to the rebellious. The prophet Jeremiah was told by God three times to cease from praying for the people of Judah, for they had stretched His patience. The people of Judah, in their false repentance, continued long enough for God to turn deaf ears to their cries since they had placed their handmade idols above God. We see when intercession is profitable, as in the cases of Moses and Samuel, but in the case of Jeremiah, the people were so wicked and stubborn that God knew they wouldn’t turn to Him.

 

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

 

Likewise, God knows when those we care about, those we warn, those we pray for are unwilling to turn to Him. Knowing He turned a deaf ear on that occasion in the book of Jeremiah brings us to ask ourselves: what then do we do after the second admonishment is given and there is no fruit that comes of it?

We grieve. We protect our heart. We leave it all in His mighty hands for our work is done. Our obedience to Him is complete in having ministered to the one in need of a warning. Time and time again, I have found great comfort in the passage of Philippians 4, verse 8:

 

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 

We think on things that are true, honest, on what is just, what is pure. We think on things that are of good report. This is how to best guard our hearts against the bitter disappointment of grieving over the believer who refuses a kind word of advice, a loving warning of danger up ahead. We keep our pearls.

The storm my family went through several years ago taught us this: we need to be direct about the truth and live it with conviction. Whenever we’re motivated to admonish someone, we go out! We alert those that are tangled in deception.

As a teacher, Timothy helped those who were confused about the truth and Paul’s advice to him—and to all who teach God’s truth—was to be humble and to patiently and courteously explain the truth. However, truth can only be taken to heart when the spirit is teachable to receive it.

Brethren, do for God what you don’t think you can do. Be strong and courageous in the faith. Take every thought captive and try the spirits. Be brave to demonstrate beautiful evidence of your love and submission to the Saviour. When someone pulls you aside to keep you from falling into a ditch, let them. They may have fallen in it themselves already.


Read here my letter of lament – Dear Student: I Was Wrong.

 

Why you should tell the truth despite the outcome. Have you ever admonished a fellow Christian and have been surprised to hear that they no longer wants to listen to truth? Click to read and respond.

Springtime Is Time for Quilting

 

I  am finally returning to another love I’ve found last year, or was it the year before last. I cannot recall, but I do have a record of that time in my previous blog posts.

On Tuesday, after visiting the Abuela for lunch, the kids and I came home and got started on a doll quilt for my sweet daughter.

 

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Six Valuable Transformations to a Promising New Year

When it seems like discouragement abounds, we tend to look at the glass half full. But here is a list, in no particular order, of 6 best practices for the homeschool mom that will get her ready to turn the glass upside down and have her thirst for the living water that only Christ can bring.

 

Be optimistic

I read an article recently about two brothers who were taught a good lesson growing up. No matter what bad situation they were going through, they learned that being happy wasn’t dependent on their circumstances. Their mother showed them that “optimism is a courageous choice you can make every day, especially in the face of adversity.” This is true for the home school mom who is in the tyranny of all that begs for her attention. Life is good when we can avoid griping throughout our day. Our gripes are usually about what we can’t control anyway, so we should remember what Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.” I take comfort knowing that all things signifies just that. All things, whether good or bad, have a way of working for good. The condition is to love God and take the call He has purposed for us.

 

Count your blessings

Ever since we moved into our new town, we’ve been collecting blessings in a galvanized milk jug. It is our jug of blessings. The children think of something they are grateful for and write it on an index card and put it in the jug. Over Thanksgiving, we pulled out all the blessings and read them to each other. Some had been forgotten, some had been remembered. It’s a reassurance that God keeps on giving when we don’t deserve anything. It keeps our mind on Christ as the giver of all things, not because we are good, but because He is good. Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”

 

Pray

It is important to go to our prayer closet when we need to communicate with God. We read our Bible because we need to hear from God, but we go to God in prayer when we need to speak to Him. The prayer closet is that room where we pour our grief and afflictions on the throne of Christ, and where we can rest. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I want to learn from the Lord and praying is the best way I can find the rest I need from a heart heavy with the burdens of this life.

 

Sing

I find that when I sing, I release joy welled up in my chest. I sing with my daughter as I comb through her hair in the mornings. We sing “Jesus loves me” and it is so sweet to listen to her praise the Lord with me in this very sincere way. We start our day like this and it forms our mood for the rest of the day. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

 

Serve others

I heard a long time ago that if you see a need, take the lead. One day, in the bank, my children sat waiting for me while an elderly couple arrived. My eldest son gave up his seat for the old man. He said to him, You’re a good boy. Not many like you these days. The simple acts of kindness, the kind words to others, can make a big difference in the world we inhabit with our neighbors. Proverbs 19:17 says, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” We have more to gain by being kind.

 

Exercise

This one takes more work than the others, but the benefits are huge! Yes, we need to take care of our mind, our spirit, our souls, but we must not neglect our bodies. We may have heard 1 Corinthians 6:19 before: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” How do we keep the temple of God holy? We are vessels and our bodies are the residence of the Spirit. This is a convicting thought, isn’t it? It is good to feed ourselves that which is good and pure. When we exercise, the happy hormones (endorphins) kick into full gear and it feels ever good! We’re more limber and our energy rises. Our tank is full and we can keep chugging away in the toils of motherhood with a better sense of awareness.

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We may not have all that the world proclaims is good and necessary for happiness. But with all these areas of our lives, we are rich! I would rather be rich in the Lord, than rich in wealth and possessions. I would rather cleave to that which is good. There is always a new year to renew the vows we have made with the Lord, to follow Him and live for Him, in all things.

 

What else would you add to this list?


 

We may not have all that the world proclaims is good and necessary for happiness. I would rather cleave to that which is good. There is always a new year to renew the vows we have made with the Lord, to follow Him and live for Him, in all things. Click to read post.

Here Is What Happens When You Revisit Time in a Photo

It’s delightful how every photo tells a story. This one taken in 2012 reminds me of the time the Lord lead our family into new territory. We had moved to a new town that spring and this photo was taken months later in December. It was shot on a day when we were out looking for a green backdrop for the annual Christmas photo of the children. It began to rain the moment we pulled up to the Rosie the Riveter Park. We let the boys hop over puddles and catch raindrops into their gaping mouths.

 

That was the year I became a new mom for the third time and whenever I look at this photo, I am reminded of who I once was. I had relinquished my place in the rat race—giving up a career, a home, and all the commodities that lifestyle delivers—in order to walk on the cusp of becoming a homeschool mom.

 

It is a transformation, this life of a homeschool mom, this life of help meet to my husband, this life of surrendering to Christ. To many, including myself at some point, it may have appeared to be an immense loss. But imagine for a moment what can be gained. I think of the wise words of the Apostle Paul:

 

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. Philippians 3:8

 

I think of this text written over a banner of boldness. We do suffer loss in order to gain Christ. As a family, we can attest to what gaining Christ means because we realize that all the gains in the world are but dung.

 

When I observe my boys in this photo and recall the condition our family was under, the shift in perspective that we took to get to where that moment captured, I comprehend God’s design for me to be used to raise these little men because this is the moment in time when my husband and I need to disciple them, when we need to be sensitive to where their hearts should be:

 

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: Proverbs 3:1

My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. Proverbs 23:26

My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. Proverbs 23:15

 

 

This photo reminds me of what it takes to gain the hearts of my children for the Lord. Giving up the world’s expectations (all things) in order to win Christ—losing all things for the excellency of knowing the Lord—is a prize!

 

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Now, I am still running a race, but this time, toward a higher road. In those moments when my muscles are weak, when my legs are cramped, when I find myself locked up in the homeschool slump, I conjure up this thought:

 

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians 4:11

 

Photos can show us who we used to be and remind us of what it takes to gain the hearts of our children for the Lord. Giving up the world’s expectations (all things) in order to win Christ—losing all things for the excellency of knowing the Lord—is a prize! Read about the importance of memory here.

How to Fight Guilt and Find Purpose as a Homeschool Blogger

How we can use blogging to honor Him

 

I attended the first-ever Blogger’s Night Out in which bloggers of all ages and styles came together to listen to a fine panelist of authors share their blogging expertise. It was a superb weekend. I haven’t met so many people in a short amount of time and I was delightfully exhausted from all the activities that I am barely now writing about it.

I tend to get so overloaded with information and inspiration that I get dreamy with the prospects of what my life may look like one day when all this is over—my homeschool days, that is—and how my children will be sharpened after all those years for the Lord if He tarries. What will become of my children for the Kingdom of God? Am I doing my part to its full potential, to the obedience of God? Here are some of my takeaways:

 

Takeaway #1 : Ask yourself why you want to blog

What is our purpose as bloggers? What is our passion for writing? Whether we are a super blogger or a blogger with a small audience, whether we blog for fun as a ministry, or blog to monetize, we need to ask ourselves some questions. Consider these:

  • Audience: who would want to read what you’re writing about? Is it a ministry to a particular niche?
  • Authenticity: are you looking to get to know people and them get to know you in your authentic self?
  • Community: are you willing to build a community and connect with others in that community to cultivate its growth?

 

Takeaway #2 : Don’t feel guilty blogging

One main caveat is to remember as homeschool moms that we were called to educate our children first, and educate others second, for the “days are long and the years are short.” Therefore, it is important to identify boundaries as bloggers. We can take a break from blogging if we need to!

We tend to feel guilty when we do something for ourselves, and when we’re not using our time for our families exclusively. Blogging should enrich us, not become an idol for us. Blogging can be consuming, with a proper perspective, we can carve out time and schedule to make it work. Our children should see that we work and that we are devoted to other work outside of the instructing, playing, cooking, and cleaning that we do with them daily in the homeschool. It should be fun to blog, otherwise, it can be a chore, and who wants to add more chores to our list? I don’t.

We know that blogging is writing, and writing is a very excruciating, solitary art, as someone once said. During the blogging process, it is just you, your thoughts, and all that needs to be said in your post.

That’s why this blogging event was so helpful! We need to examine ourselves as bloggers and enrich the experience by learning what others are doing to cope with families and the ministry of blogging. That is one thing I discovered that I hadn’t thought of prior: that my blogging is a ministry. It is a chronicle of my life for my children to one day experience. It is a body of wisdom and lessons learned for my daughter to one day look to for comfort and guidance aside from the Bible. It also is a testament to my children’s lives as they will have a living record of what they did and what the Lord taught us during these years here and now.

 

My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: (Proverbs 6:20)

 

This verse is one of my family favorites because it illustrates just what the purpose statement is on my blog: Because everything I do ought to have a kingdom purpose. My blog, as multi-faceted as it is, is intended to direct my children to God’s truth. It is to show them how God manifests Himself in our lives.

I want to thank the panelists that offered their time to share with us at the Bloggers Night Out. I needed to hear other homeschooling parents’ writing experience to show me what’s possible. And I didn’t want to hear it from just anyone, but rather the right people. People who understand what I’m trying to do, who know what they’re talking about, and who can help me continue to do what I need to with a kingdom purpose.

In my next post, I will share with you some practical tips and tools that bloggers would benefit from knowing about. I have a few up my sleeve that you may want to check out. Stay tuned!

Did you attend the CHEA Convention Blogger’s Night? What were your takeaways?

We tend to feel guilty when we do something for ourselves, and when we’re not using our time for our families exclusively. Although blogging can be consuming, with a proper perspective, we can carve out time and schedule to make it work. Read about the importance of using blogging to honor Him.
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Why You Should Remember That God Laughs at Our Boasting


When God laughs

 

My boys do push-ups regularly throughout the day so that they can have muscles like superheroes. They want to feel strong. They look at their father’s arms and notice that they are very tight, capable of much that they’ve seen my husband carry with his strength. Push-ups not only give my boys the muscles they so desire but also the appearance of manliness, of strength. They do the push-ups because they want to feel like they are growing up. My eldest, in particular, does the push-ups because he doesn’t want to feel like he isn’t able to do something, as my mother is careful to put particular restrictions on how he can help her around her yard. She is overly careful but is eager to have him pitch in whenever he can, yet he notices that she doesn’t see his full potential. He likes the challenge. He likes testing himself.

All this to say one thing: it is amusing to see my boys motivated in this way; to see them exert themselves on the floor, competing and then encouraging each other at the same time.

I laugh. My husband laughs. It’s amusing. We know the limited strength of our children.

Likewise, God knows the limits of our bodies.

He knows the boundaries of a nation’s power. Every nation is limited, but God is omnipotent.

Is it a strange thing, then, to consider that God laughs? He does laugh, not at the nations, but at their confused thoughts about power.

 

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Photo by Lena Belknows Unsplash

 

I continue to read and study the Psalms. This time, I found some golden nuggets in chapter 2:


1  Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
3  Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4  He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5  Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6  Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7  I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8  Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10  Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11  Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

 

Given this election season, as a body of Christ, the lesson here is to decide whether we will choose between confidence in God, or confidence in our nation’s power.

We choose God because He is marvelous and omnipotent. He is stronger than we are and will always overpower anything and anyone. He knew the empires of the earth long before they came into existence (Daniel 2). We know that pride and power cause nations and leaders to rebel against God and try to break free from Him.

As many leaders boast of their power, rant and rave against God and His people, and promise to take over and form their own empires, we must remember that He laughs!

He laughs because any power that world leaders have comes from Him- and He can take that power away.

This gives me comfort because knowing that although corruption will exist within those in power, that greed, pride, and filthy lucre in our leaders is nothing to be astonished about, we can trust that all the boasting they do will eventually end up in the hands of a mighty God who will judge them Himself.

And He knows better than we do.

He will break them with a rod of iron, and they will be in pieces like a potter’s vessel.


 

Did you know that God laughs at our boasting of power? Read and reflect here.