Friday, September 2, 2016

Family Update

You know what I hate? Five year plans. I can't just make a plan and then say, "But we'll see how it works out." No. If I take the time to map it out, it's going to happen. And when it doesn't, well, I kind of flip out. Because it was a PLAN and it was GOOD.

When Isaac was four we made a new plan to homeschool. We never considered homeschooling until he was 4 years old, but once we started I loved it. I figured we would homeschool until they graduated high school. Once Katie joined our family, we made a new plan that once she started Kindergarten, I would need to be home full time if we were going to continue to homeschool. But Katie had her own plan and that includes wanting to start school at age 3!

So that brings us to now. Larry has 3 jobs and I am still working full time while homeschooling 4 children. Don't try the math. It doesn't work.

This past week has been full of tears (mine), breakdowns (mine), and more than one empty wine bottle (me again). I kept hearing Dr. Phil in my head: "And how's that working for you?" and I wanted to punch him because it's NOT working and I HAD A PLAN, DR. PHIL.

When you're drowning, all you can do is kick your legs hard enough to get your nose above water before growing weak and falling below a wave again. You know what you don't get to do in those times? Look around. You can't see the lighthouse. You can't reach for the life preserver. You can't get your eyes above water long enough to see anything. You're just trying to catch your breath. And that's what I've been doing for the last month. I finally had to recognize that I have to do SOMETHING to get more air.

First step: Say it out loud: I CANNOT DO THIS. Accepting that *shiver* I can't do it all is really hard. I had to say to Larry and friends that I am drowning.

Next step: Pray. I read recently that sometimes God let's you hit rock bottom so you realize he's your rock. Nothing is truer. I cannot do this without God. And yes, I probably should have done this first, but I didn't. And I'm not going to pretend that I did. Honestly, I was kind of scared to pray to God because more than anything, I felt I had let HIM down. Larry and I look back over the past 4 years of homeschooling with NO regrets. We KNOW that keeping Isaac and Jared home was exactly the best thing for them and for our family. So to think that NOW it's not, makes it feel like it's my fault. Like if I was just a little bit better, things would work better. But the reality is, that math. It just doesn't work. Larry used to be home a lot more during the day and could help with homeschooling, but now he's not. And he's doing exactly what he should be doing. So we have to make some changes.

Step 1: Grayson will start PreK on Tuesday. Ya'll. The kid is SO excited! He keeps telling people, "I found the PERFECT SCHOOL!" He took a tour during NAP TIME and fell in love. We are all so excited or him! We made the decision to enroll HIM for many different reasons, but ultimately, he made the decision for us. He wants to go more than anyone. So we will start there.

Isaac and Jared will continue to be homeschooled, but using a different curriculum that a friend recommended. The curriculum I was trying was very demanding on me and still required a lot of planning and additional resources that I simply did not have the time to handle, leaving me feeling like a failure on a daily basis. I don't need that in my life, thankyouverymuch.

We have several different options for our paths moving forward at this point. Larry and I are praying as a family and thanking God for our family and all His many blessings. I now feel like I'm holding on to the life preserver and I can breathe for now. It's a great relief.

It's so hard to look at the plan you had and know that it's not going to work and this isn't working out. Being wrong is hard hard hard. But being wrong and stubborn is worse. So we're letting go. We have no idea where we will be in 5 years. We have no idea where we will be in two months or a year from now. All we know is we're holding on the life preserver, we can see the Lighthouse, and God is pulling us in to dry land. <3 p="">

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Great Aunt Mary

My Great Aunt Mary’s impact on my life began before I was even born. When my Dad was 28 he was on the wrong path. He was married to my Mom, but was not following God and was making many negative and dangerous choices. Meanwhile, my mom’s Aunt Mary kept asking my Dad to go with her to church. She kept asking, in typical Aunt Mary fashion, and my Dad kept refusing, in typical Roy fashion. (I can say that because I’m just like him!) In God’s infinite wisdom He decided that it would be the PERFECT time for my Dad to become a Father. In doing so, my Dad realized he had to grow up at some point and something had to change. So he accepted Aunt Mary’s invitation. It was at her church that he spoke to the pastor and finally handed his life over to Christ, and in doing so, changed the course of my life.

I was then raised in a loving Christian home. We attended church, we prayed, we read the Bible. When I was 6 I decided to accept Christ. The night of my baptism was part of a rainy day. Instead of holding the Sunday evening service at the Chapel by the Lake, it was held indoors. My friend was also scheduled to be baptized so we all went over to the chapel by the lake after the service and we were baptized, but there was no crowd like there normally would have been. Instead, in that pivotal moment, stood my Dad and my Aunt Mary. She was still there. Still supporting us. Still loving us. Still helping us in our walk with Christ.

Many, many years later I was a mom of two boys and found out that Aunt Mary was living fairly close by to me. My husband and I took our two boys to visit her. Now the thing about visiting Aunt Mary is that you’re going to get some amazing food. And you’re going to get to see that big smile and you’re going to get a big hug. And man, you are going to feel like the most loved person in the WORLD. But if you’ve been doing wrong, she’s going to call you out on it. I’ll never forget when she looked at me and said, “Your mother loves you, you know. You should call her.” I tried to explain that I was just so incredibly hurt. Instead, she told me of the many times she had been hurt, but she continued to love. She told me that God wanted me to forgive my mother and call her. So after that visit I called my mother because you don’t have Aunt Mary tell you to do something and then just not do it. It didn’t work for my dad those many years ago and it wasn’t going to work for me.

What I love most about these particular memories of my Aunt Mary is that these aren’t just my stories. There are so many in this room with a similar story and many more outside this room. Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Aunt Mary lived and breathed this statement wherever she was. And she was able to do it because she didn’t just preach the gospel, but she listened to 1 Peter 3:16 that reads, “But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” Several different people, including my Dad has said in these past days, “She was the Godliest woman I knew.” She truly was. She opened her home, her fridge, her pool, to all of us. It didn’t matter what bad things were going on in our lives, she continued to love each of us. In so many ways she was the best living example of Christ that I’ve ever known. She didn’t see what we ARE, she saw what we COULD BE with the love of Christ.

I’ll forever be grateful that I had a Great Aunt Mary. I believe God allowed us to have her for so many years because she was still showing God’s love to those of us that needed to see it. When she couldn’t be near us in person, we received a card in the mail. She couldn’t stop telling us she loved us. I think now the best way to honor her is to share the Good News of Christ to all, and to love everyone, no matter what. 

Thank you, Aunt Mary. Thank you for not giving up on my Dad and for being the path to Christ. Thank you for always loving me. Thank you for finding me when I was lost. Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to move through your life for us. We will always love you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Birthday, Isaac

Dear Isaac,

Seven years ago you made me a mother and I am forever grateful for this opportunity. It's been quite a ride these past 7 years, but I don't think any have compared to this past year. When you were six, you accomplished so much. You have grown and changed from a small boy, to a young child and I am incredibly proud of the man I see forming before me. 

Since you were a baby you've worn your heart on your sleeve. Happy, sad, angry, we never had to guess with you. This past year I've seen you start to manage your emotions in a new way, struggling to find the words to express yourself. It's hard being six. There are new responsibilities, new goals, new experiences, and new expectations. But when I look at the seven year old before me today, I see you soaring. 

So let's talk about all the things you accomplished this year. Academically, you've read books like Wizard of Oz, Shiloh, and Chocolate Touch. At the beginning of the year I was worried about your inferencing skills, but by the end, I was amazed at everything you were able to grasp in the books we were reading. Your love for Science is infectious. New discoveries light up your world and I'm so grateful to be a part of that excitement with you. Physically you've learned how to ride a bike AND swim! Holy cow, Isaac! You accomplished two major fears, and YOU DID IT. And can we talk about the fact that you ate a hot dog? You have a lot of sensitivities to food- their textures and flavors, but you are also learning new ways to absorb those sensitivities and move forward. And of course, you are 3 months seizure free today! I am so excited for you on this new stage of your life! The best part of you being six was the night you accepted Christ into your life. You are learning all about God's magnificent love for you and I could not be happier. 

Recently you told me that you just want to do what you want to do. And I want you to know, that I feel you. We all just want to do what we want to do. But the reality is, we have to love the people around us more than we love ourselves. We have to want to do what's best for them. And I see you learning that. It's hard sometimes being the oldest of 4 kids. You have to give a LOT of love to everyone. But God gave you such a big heart and I know he did it because he was going to give you a lot of people to love. 

I want to talk to you about one more incident that happened this year. A few months back you tore up Jared's art work. You said it was useless. Jared cried and when I spoke to you in private about the incident, you said Jared already has a bunch of art work on his wall in his room and his new art work was useless. After speaking to you for a few minutes, you turned your head from me and said, "I'm useless." I want you to know a piece of my heart broke in that moment. I told you then and I want to reiterate now, just in case you're reading this at a point in your life when you need to hear it: YOU ARE NOT USELESS. You are perfectly and wonderfully made for this family. You are designed by God from the top of your head to tip of your toes. From your inner organs to your inner spirit- you are made perfect by God. I need you to know that. You are not your brothers or your sister and you are not meant to be. If you were, we wouldn't need them. We need YOU in our family. We need your brilliance, your laughter, your jokes, your plans. We need you. 

I want to close this letter with your thoughts. The following was dictated by you:

I'm the best guy ever. I do not so funny pranks on my mom and dad and I want them to be funny so I really need to buy the Dangerous Dragon Book for Boys. It has so much funny pranks in it. 

When I grow up I am going to have 4 children and 1 daughter. That makes 5 kids. Their names are: Peter, Isaac Jr, Gregory, Arctic (that's because he will like the snow a lot), and Abigail. My home is going to be a 3 level home. And I am going to have 3 vehicles: a motorcycle, a truck, and a van (just in case everyone wants to go somewhere.) My jobs are going to be UPS loading trucks and the US Navy with a new technology of invisible cannons on the submarines. The end!

Isaac, I cannot wait to watch what this next year brings for you. 

All my love,


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Salvation 2

It's a big year in the Summerlin home! Jared has followed his brother's footsteps and has chosen to follow Christ! The boys have been attending VBS this week at a local Baptist church. This evening, Jared told me that Jesus died on a cross, but then he came back to life and went to Heaven. I replied with, "I know! Isn't that awesome?" and he said, "How did you know that?" 

Oh my heart!

I told Jared that if he believes that Jesus was sent from Heaven, that he died on a cross and came back to life and now is in Heaven, then he will go to Heaven too. He said he believed and he wanted to pray. So we prayed. But he asked for some help. :)

I told him that if he's ready to pray to God and tell him that he believes and wants God in his life, that the words have to come from his own heart. I asked him what he knows in his heart. He said Jesus came from Heaven and died on a cross. He came back to life and went to Heaven again. I told him that's all he needs to say to God. So he did and he asked God to be in his life forever. 

And then he looked at the clock. "OK! I guess I'm going to Heaven now!" I told him that God still has things on Earth for him to accomplish, but when he's done, then Jared will go to Heaven. I told him I'd like for him to stick around on Earth a little bit longer so I can play with him some more. :)

He went to tell the good news to Daddy. "I'm going to live with God in Heaven!"

It doesn't surprise me in the least that Jared has chosen to believe that Jesus is our Savior. It doesn't surprise me that he wants to live the life God has for him. A small part of me is relieved that this part of the journey is done. Because I know no matter what, God's got him. But I also know, having been a follower since I was 6, that this part, this prayer, this was the easy part. I look at my two older sons and I pray fervently for them. I know that believing in God and having His protection means their eternity is known. But it doesn't mean Satan will leave them alone while they are still on Earth. There is a battle raging all around us. We may not see the demons and the angels, but we see their effects. We see the miracles and we see the crimes. We see the love and the pain. My prayer is that Larry and I can raise Warriors ready for the battles they will face. Because they will face battles. Believing Christ is our savior marks you. The neighbors may not know, but Satan does and he will do everything in his power to make my sons do more damage for him than good for God. 

So tonight I praise our Heavenly Father. I thank him for these two sons and for giving them hearts that are open to his Love and Grace. I thank our church and the churches in our community that love our children and teach them about God's love. And I pray. I pray for protection for their souls while they do God's work on Earth. I pray for wisdom as their parents that we continue to raise them and equip them for the battles they will face. I pray for these Mighty Warriors. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Jared's Heart

When I remove the external factors and I dig and sift, cutting through the bramble that covers my secrets, I find My Greatest Fear for my children. My greatest fear for them is that they would ever question my love for them. I want it so ingrained that they feel it in their bones; that the very idea of ever wondering if their mother loves them is preposterous. In the months following Jared's birth I kept hearing, If only you'd loved him more. Things could have been different. I felt such guilt over what happened in the hospital and then, in a nice Catch 22, I continued to feel even more guilt over my postpartum depression. I was depressed about being depressed. It took several years for me to pull myself completely out of the lies that were replaying in my head. In the reality, I got out of my hospital bed, rubbery legs from the epidural, and I walked across the room to get him. Because nobody was taking my baby from me. In reality, I cried for him while he was in the transition nursery and went every 10 minutes to check on him until he was in my arms. In reality, I decided to never again take pain medication during birth because I never again want to hear the words, "You can't come here to him. You've had the epidural." In reality, I love(d) him fiercely. 

But the moments of early birth can shape you as a mother and I always wondered how Jared would be one day. My little Jared is 5 1/2 years old now and the kindest one out of all of us. 

We went to an Easter Egg Scramble a week before Easter Sunday. The children were separated by their ages, with the youngest going first. That meant that Isaac had to stand on the sidewalk while his siblings all had their turns. I worried for him and his patience, but he did very well. When it was his turn to go, Jared started pumping his fist in the air, shouting, "Go Isaac! Go Isaac!" Grayson started doing the same thing. Then Jared ran over to Isaac. I was worried he was going to start picking up eggs. But Jared is a Rule Follower and that was never on his mind. Instead, he leaned down to Isaac and said, "You're doing great, Isaac! Good job!" 

I have a theory that Satan's primary goal and objective is to ruin relationships. If he can ruin your earthly relationships, then maybe he can ruin your relationship with God in the process. I have another theory that Satan strikes hardest against those he feels the biggest threat from. I believe that's why he attacked my mother so viciously over the years. And I believe that's why I heard those lies so strongly following Jared's birth. Jared's heart is so big that I think Satan could feel the love from him the moment he was born. Jared, the one who sings Twinkle Twinkle to Katie as he walks backward from her bed at night. He times it just right so he closes the door right at the end of the song. He is the one who offers suggestions to his hurting brothers when they are sad. He is the one who wants to make sure everyone is in the van before we leave. I am so so grateful that God blessed Jared with his huge heart. He was able to overcome that first year and show me that God is always bigger. I feared that my lack of connection with him that first year would shape him in a negative way and may possibly influence our relationship forever. But again, those are the lies of Satan. And he does not have control of my son's heart. He wants it, though. He thought he could damage it. But all he did was prove to me how great our God is. Because God took my smallest son and gave him the biggest heart. 

I no longer fear for Jared and his future. My prayers now are simply that God continue to grow his heart and I know he will do great things with his love. 

Monday, January 26, 2015


One of the biggest difficulties I have as a Christian is sharing my faith with nonbelievers. I know I'm supposed to. I know that bringing people to Christ is really the biggest, most important thing we can do in our lives. But I just can't do it. I can't do it because I understand. I was there. I was a nonbeliever for several years of my life and I get it. I wasn't brought back to my faith through anyone's testimony. I was brought back to faith because I was at rock bottom and it was Jesus who pulled me out. The life that has followed that prayer continues to be full of valleys and mountains and sticky suffocating mud. But through each season, God is incredibly present. But His presence in MY life doesn't fix the hurt and questions in someone else's life. And I get that. So I tend to stay quiet. Fighting my own vices and battles and sins. Hoping that Good peaks out when it should. 

And then I had kids. The panic of raising Warriors for God is overwhelming at times. I asked Christ into my life at 6 years old. Not because I truly understood what I was asking, but because I went to a Baptist Church that gave you a toy when you walked down that aisle to kneel. My friend got a toy. It looked awesome and by golly, I wanted one too. It wasn't until I was 25 and praying at that stop light that I truly asked God into my life. That I understood I wasn't asking some white haired ghostly figure into my "heart," but rather I was asking Jesus Christ, the One who loves me more than anyone else, the One who created me in my mother's womb, the One who knows my beginning, middle and end, the One who never turned against me even when I pushed him away- I was asking Him into my LIFE. To walk with me each day. To show me a new path. To guide me and help me. I was asking for a new difficult life, but one I wouldn't need to walk alone. 

But that initial experience when I was 6 and the questions and doubts I had growing up led me to stay quiet in regards to Salvation in my home. We pray. We read the Bible. We go to church. I certainly want them to ask Christ into their lives, but I didn't want it to be for the wrong reasons and I had my doubts that it's something a child truly understands. 

So tonight Isaac brought me his Action Bible to read at bedtime. I told him he could choose a PART of the Bible and I would be happy to read it. He chose Revelations. So I read it to him and at the end there was a part about Jesus knocking on your door and asking you to let him in. He said, "Yeah, but no one's knocked on our door!" And then the words came. The words I was so scared would never come to me. The words I didn't have before. They were there. And I was reminded of a verse I read earlier this week in Matthew. Jesus was speaking to the disciples and said to them: 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. I told Isaac how God created him and has a very special plan just for him. I explained that God wants a relationship with him. That God wants him to turn to Him when he's sad or angry or scared and He wants to know everything going on in his life. I told him how, when you have a relationship with God, you have a desire to know Him more and to learn more about all that He's done. But you have to ask him into your life. He's knocking, but it's up to you to answer. Isaac said, "Yeah, but one time I prayed to God to give me a lab." I explained that asking God into your life doesn't mean you get what YOU want. It means you get what GOD wants. I told him that God's plan is always bigger and better than our own. I told him that I was planning on getting married, having 1 child and being a teacher forever. But instead I got to have Jared and Grayson and Katie too! Now I work from home so I can be with them more. God's plan was bigger and so much better. I told him that God may decide that a lab is something he is meant to have later. He may decide that he's not supposed to have a lab because he's going to have something better instead. We don't know. All we know is that God wants what is best to glorify Him. Always. 

We left it at that and I read a Christmas book someone else had chosen. Then it was bedtime and Isaac started his prayers his usual way. But then he said, "And God, please come in my heart and into my life. Help me to be brave and not scared." He said something else but I was crying. Because there are no toys. There are no promises. There's just a young boy who heard God knocking and he decided to open the door. I am forever grateful to my Heavenly Father for showing me again and again that all things are possible through Him. I am forever grateful that He can work past my own doubts and fears and insecurities to grab hold of the heart he desires. I have no doubts that my other 3 children will hear the knocking of Christ when it is their time. I am so incredibly grateful that God's plan is bigger and so much better than my own. 

Ephesians 1:3-13
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

'Tis the Season

I'm not a giving person. I have the best of intentions, but the worst follow-through. My closest friends tend to be givers and I find myself studying their actions to find out how they do it. They never seem to ask people if they need help- they simple know how to help them and they do it. I could give lots of excuses as to why I don't do that, but at the end of the day, I simply Don't.

Several years ago when we had one child (maybe 2?) I read an article in a parenting magazine by a mom of 2 boys. I don't recall all of the details- but her two boys told her they didn't want Christmas presents that year. Rather, they wanted to raise money to give to one of the third world organizations to provide families with goats and food and housing. I remember reading that and thinking, "THAT! That's what I want MY kids to be like."

Larry and I have talked about what we want our kids to be like when they grow up. We have a list of important character attributes and accomplishments we want for them. At the top of that list is: Servants. We want our children to be warriors of Christ and to demonstrate Jesus' servitude toward others. We want them to be giving, generous, loving. We want them to know how much God loves them, and we want them to show that love to the people and the world around them. We don't know the careers or avenues that they will have as adults, but we do know that we want them to display those characteristics in whatever place they are.

Basically, I want them to be everything I am not.

It's the struggle of every parent. I remember watching an Oprah episode years before I became a Mom about parents who gave their children ALL THE TOYS because they had nothing growing up. So they worked hard and now they make a lot of money and so they lavish their children with anything and everything they want. And oh how I judged them. But the reality is, my children ended up with a Mom who wanted to join the Peace Corps and didn't. So now they have a Mom who wants them to be un-materialistic and giving. Which is probably why I have children who refuse to believe that Santa is not real because (and yes, these are direct quotes): "Christmas is a season of being nice to others and getting presents! Yep. You get presents because you are nice! Santa brings us presents!" Which really, I have to laugh at. Our children (and I say "our" in a collective, universal sense) challenge us in every way, right? Our children are not born to us knowing the mistakes we've made, ready to do better. Rather, our children are born pretty much just like us. The good, the bad, all of it. And then the struggle comes. Because it's not our job to ensure that they don't make our mistakes. It's our job to continue to work toward our own goals in life that God has for us, while helping them discover the goals God has for for their lives. It's difficult.

As this year has gone by and as I reflect I have come to realize, that I am not even close to raising boys who want to give their presents away at Christmas. And I'm not saying that's what God wants for them. But I do have to examine why my children do not even see that as a possibility. I have to examine why my children are materialistic. I have to examine why my children tend to be selfish. Mostly? It's because they're little kids and that's all natural and normal. But you know what I else I realized? They never see it.

My children don't know what it means to be giving. They don't know there are people out there who are hurting and struggling. They don't know there are kids with cancer or families struggling to find food each day. They don't know because I've never told them and I've never shown them. Because, as I mentioned earlier, I have the best of intentions, but I am not a giving person.

Once I made that realization I began to make some immediate changes. I realized that I don't know what God is calling my children to do. But I do know what he's calling me to do. He's calling me to be a servant. He's calling me to show love and generosity and kindness to strangers and people I love. He's been calling me to do those things since I was a little girl. But I always found ways to simply not follow through. And I'm never going to be perfect. There's going to be missed opportunities. There's going to be excuses. But I at least have to start. Because Jesus came and he did some pretty incredible things. And he was not selfish. He did not tell the leper, "I will pray for you" and then walk away. He healed. I cannot heal ailments. I cannot fix poverty or cancer or divorce. But I can pray and then do something more to help a friend. I can pray for a family and then find a group of friends who can help give presents to that family. I can do small things. Why? Because God has done huge things for me. He has moved mountains and calmed raging seas for me. He has sent his son to be born to save me. To ensure that I am forgiven and can receive eternal life. And the very least I can do is be a servant and pay his love forward.