Tissues, Toilet Paper, and Trust

1957 Grandma&Grandpa1950s

I wanted to take a minute to write about a moment from this evening that will leave it’s impression on me forever. This won’t be the best example of my writing because their aren’t enough tissues or toilet paper in my house to dry the tears out of my eyes tonight. Some close friends know my grandma has been dealing with some tough health issues for the past year. We didn’t get good answers about why until a couple of months ago, and since then she has been through numerous procedures and two pretty major surgeries, and yet has found no relief. She is suffering greatly each and every day, and her pain is our pain too. She has been in an out of the emergency room trying to deal with fits of agony and finally, a week ago, they admitted her to her own room for constant care.

Let me back up a smidge. My grandma is no stranger to tough medical battles. When my mom was a kid, she took on a lot of responsibility to care for her siblings when my grandma was stricken with Multiple Sclerosis. Medical treatments weren’t nearly what they are today, and so my Grandma nearly lost her life. . . That is, until God heard the faithful, broken-hearted prayers of my grandparents, and healed her. He completely healed her. She still has the lesions on her brain to prove she had MS, but she has no MS, and hasn’t had a single symptom in over 40 years.

Then there was the time she got rheumatic fever as a child. It damaged her heart so badly that by the time she was 40 (I was a toddler) with three of her own kids still in her care, once again, she faced death. She told me her heart was working so hard she was dying. She cried out to the Lord, “Lord, please heal me!” And he healed her. He completely healed her.

And just like God left the lesions on her brain as a demonstration of his healing, we learned what he did about that heart several months ago (35 years after the healing) when her heart was checked as the potential source for some nagging chest pains. The doctor’s exact words during his report were, “Ma’am, you have the heart of a 40 year old!” A 40 year old. . The doctor told us it wasn’t her heart, but a hernia that could be treated with an operation.

She has walked through so many trials and has seen so much triumph with a beautiful grace and faith in Jesus Christ she could only have achieved after being tested time and time again to end of her being. And yet with each breath she remains faithful, hopeful and surrendered to God’s plan for the new day that He has given her. I could say a ton about my grandpa too. I could say a ton about my aunts and uncles and parents and their faithfulness to God and to each other through all of this, but this blog is about my grandma, who I am watching suffer, once again to the end of her being and still remaining faithful.

1982 Grandma, Grandpa

Today is my grandparents 58th wedding anniversary. These are two people who genuinely love and have great affection for each other. Even though bending over and standing back up, or even rolling into a kiss is an incredible feat for them these days, they still kiss when they see each other and when they part. They are effusive in their display of love and it stands as an amazing testimony to all who see them of the love of Christ and what it can look like when lived out like it should be.

Tonight, all local family went up to the hospital with balloons and cake to celebrate and praise the Lord for yet another anniversary we are never certain we will see, but grandma was struggling with many things. With the help of the nurses, we tried to make her more comfortable, and finally we all just gathered around her bed and lifted her up in prayer.


Then comes a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life and inspire my worship as long as I live. My kids step forward to read the cards we brought. Grandpa listened quietly, but intently and then expressed gratitude when they finished each card. Grandma, despite her pain, faced each child, and whispered praises to the Lord the whole time they read. “Praise you, Lord. I love you, Lord. Thank you for these children. Thank you for blessing me so much. Thank you for loving me through them. Praise you, Lord.”

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Let me say that during this emotional and challenging moment someone says to grandma, a bit tongue in cheek, “Well, I bet this is the best anniversary you’ve ever had,” and Grandma’s face goes from pinched with pain to downright pleasant and says, “Well, yes. It is.” Despite everything she is still grateful for each day with Grandpa and her family at her side through it all.


If you catch her in the worst of her suffering, and she isn’t responding to doctors or nurses or questions, you might just hear her praising the Lord for being with her through it all and for the strong sense of his presence all around her. She praises him for her wonderful husband and for generation after generation of believing children and grandchildren.

My grandmother has unconditionally loved and showed compassion to so many, decade after decade for nearly all 75 years of her life. She is a peaceful woman with a quiet, encouraging wisdom she has blessed me with time and time again. She has taken me around the world and back, literally, and picked me up when I was very, low down with no judgment. Just grace. And she has blessed me with the best extended family a girl could ever ask for. And so, Lord, please end her suffering with the same, Holy Spirit inspired peace that she has so faithfully shared with all of us.

1994Grandma,Grandpa,Rochelle in India

Me with my grandparents in Enore, India out side of Chennai.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

I love you, Lord. I rejoice in the hope and promise of your glory being revealed. I rejoice that my children are blessed to watch my grandmother “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:20), that they might live for you all of their days. You are with us, inhabiting our praises and lifting our eyes to the author and perfecter of our faith.


Grandma and Grandpa with all of their kids one year before I was born.

1998 Tynes wedding

My wedding day with all of my wedding guests except for my parents and brother. My grandpa performed the quiet ceremony at his precious, rural, central Minnesota church. (The grandparents on the left of the picture are my dad’s parents.) Both my grandmas loved Stephen from the moment they first met him.

2007-April, Carolyn Joyce and Julia Carolynn

My daughter, Julia Carolynn with my grandma, Carolyn Joyce. (The extra “N” is for my mother-in-law, Lynn.) She always tells me her love for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren goes right to the same spot in her heart.

2007Harry & Harry's Son

Grandpa Harry with Harrison, or as I like to say, Harry-pa with Harry-son.


Part 1 of “How the Heck Does a Georgian Homeschool Mom and a Software Consultant Keep Ending Up in Arctic Alaska?”


When I was discussing the idea of a blog post with my beloved cousin, Beth Ringsmuth, on how Stephen and I keep ending up on the arctic island of St. Lawrence, I told her I was having trouble with finding a place to start that wasn’t, “So I was born early the morning of August 13, 1978.” I can see God’s hand in making me the person that makes the decisions I do since as far back as I can remember. In fact, I can see it in my parents and my grandparents, and for generations before them. I was raised by people who were raised by people, who were raised by people who were committed to following the Lord and sharing his love with others regardless of where that brought them. It goes almost without saying that there were deviations along that path for me and for my family, but the legacy left to me by them is one of service and of using our blessings to reach out to the downtrodden of any kind.

So, I went on “mission” to India with my grandparents in early 1994, and then to Russia in the summer of 1994 with my family and a good friend. I’ve worked with kids in the inner city here in Atlanta, and supported local and foreign ministries through my church and extended family. Then last year I worked in Ethiopian slums with my cousin Jessica, and most recently, missions-type work (along with vacationing) in Argentina with Stephen over the last few years. Much of this work is just random stuff that pops up, and I have the major blessing of jumping in to fill a need. . .And then there’s the work we do in Alaska.

Three-and-half years ago this idea of Alaska missions was presented directly to Stephen and me. A pioneer trip needed to be made to one of two, small, Siberian Yupic (Eskimo) villages on the Island of St. Lawrence in the Baring Sea, quite near to Russia. We would fly progressively smaller airplanes from Atlanta to Nome, Alaska, and then take a bush flight out to an airstrip that ends in a village with no cars to bring us to the ancient church building we would stay in. Only 4 wheelers and snow machines are able to maneuver the difficult terrain of an island on which people still live off the berries and greens on the tundra, and its land and sea life. A few people from our church had witnessed the needs in Northern Alaska among native populations for handymen, carpenters, and community outreach to encourage women and children. Addictions and abuse of all kinds are rampant as a result of some tragic historical events I want to be careful not to exploit publically. A vision needed to be established for how our church could be used to build long-term relationships with the local people and kindle a flame within the local church to make it self-sufficient.

That first trip was bare-bones mission work in the village of Savoonga. We went in there with some food, and the clothes on our back. We used materials we could scavenge from the church or around town to do some light-construction on homes in great need of drastic repairs. We visited with and prayed for the local people who have endured a long history of negative and even horrifying experiences with missionaries and church leaders. God has been demonstrated to them as a purely angry, vengeful God who wishes to punish them into submission. They were mystified by these new missionaries who smile, hug, pray, encourage, feed and lend a helping hand. The hardened hearts of those who stood back and watched with great, and totally justified, skepticism, began to soften, and in the first trip, locals moved in for a closer look.

The following 2 years, Stephen went to the other village, Gambell, on the very tip of St. Lawrence Island. From it you can see the mountains of Eastern Russia where their ancestors came from and their cousins still live. Stephen and a couple of his buddies worked their tails off serving the people by making simple, but often life-changing repairs to their homes. Most on the island lack the know-how to make even the most basic home repair, but time is spend teaching and showing people how to become self-sufficient in their own homes. The children were loved with fruit (sent in by Stephen and I and others who donate to the cause from our church) and healthy play from trustworthy men.

I was unable to go on those trips because of the concern that I would be left alone while the men worked on homes. No other woman was willing and able to go those years, but this year God put it on the hearts of not one, but 6 other ladies to go with me, including an amazing, godly, heroic, local Eskimo woman named Dorcas we got to know on our first trip in 2012, who now lives in Nome, Alaska.

By early spring of this year 8 men and most of the women were committed to the 4th trip our church was doing on St. Lawrence. The locals largely live off the land, and the local store is hit-or-miss with an incredibly expensive assortment of items that make it impossible to plan consistent meals for anyone not accustomed to eating whale or walrus. With me able to go on the trip, we decided rather than hiring an Alaskan missions organization to prepare and bring our food for us, we could plan for and bring that on our own too. The logistics of 4 days just for travel to and from Gambell for a total of 14 people, bedding, food for 6 days, and the gathering and packing of tools and materials needed for home repairs, among about a million other details and pre-trip meetings and phone calls, had Stephen working with every moment he could give for months to make it all happen. The new influx of women on the trip meant supplies and plans had to be made for outreach to woman and VBS for children. Plumbing for sewage is not available in the section of town where the Gambell church building sits, so work went into arranging access to flush toilets for the women, while supplies for a home-depot bucket, bathroom situation for the men were also flown in. This is just the tip of the nearby iceberg, but hopefully the readers of this blog entry are beginning to realize the logistical miracle pulling this trip off was for those involved.

Let’s jump back for a minute and think about the lives we are leaving behind for this trip. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I can speak to Stephen’s career, limited vacation time, and our 4 young children among many other responsibilities that must be considered and closely managed. Our children sacrifice for this trip too. They have to give up some financial flexibility due to the cost of the trip as well as prep and travel time with Stephen and I without growing bitter or feeling sorry for themselves, and that requires visiting and revisiting the reasons why family sacrifices like these are worth it. When a child is pouting because they are told “No” to a new pool toy or day at a trampoline gym with their friends because Alaska must be paid for, or when they are having to entertain themselves at home for pre-trip shopping trips, phone calls and then ultimately two weeks without us for the actual trip, it takes time to walk them back through the reasons it’s worth the sacrifice.

Christ did so much for us in laying down his life for a world filled with hopeless failures, during such a brutal moment in history, in order to bring us redemption, hope, peace, strength. . . We must be careful never to feel sorry for ourselves for sacrificing Earth’s temporary comforts for an opportunity to share our blessings with a message of hope to those God puts in our lives. Sometimes that’s as simple as taking a meal across the street, but sometimes it gets more complicated. If you’re a “believer”, there is only room for gratitude that God puts us in a place to bless others despite our natural depravity. We struggle with depression, insecurities, a compulsion to lie or lust or have bad attitudes about this and that, and then God says, “Remember how my love and mercy are enough to cover for all of that? Go tell those people about my redeeming and perfectly, excessively overflowing love to them right where they are.” In consideration of that, giving into fear or a temptation to feel self-pity is a victory for the Enemy of any work of redemption or ministry to a world who is desperate to see the grace and mercy of a loving God.

If you ask my kids, they already get it. If you catch them when they are in the mood to talk about it, they will actually beam with joy over how excited they are to be a part of it all. We have them help pack and sort and pray. Oh, and do they ever take the part they play in prayer seriously. Just because they are children doesn’t mean they are impotent to help carry the message of love and hope to others. They are part of this with us. They are already empowered to serve and see the most satisfying fruits of their sacrifices.

Well, I think that brings me up to the actual details of this year’s trip and ends part one of “How the Heck Does a Georgian Homeschool Mom and a Software Consultant Keep Ending Up in Arctic Alaska?” The details of the trip itself knock my socks off. What happened there was so ginormously bigger than me or any of us on our team that it speaks for itself of a God who is so present in our lives that he could never be denied or argued away by any brainiac atheist. Undeniable. I am changed again. Till part two. . .

(Here are a few photos, but many more are available if you want to contact me directly.)


The kids helped a lot with food prep for the 15 people and numerous villagers who were fed during the trip.


Stephen and the other men play out in the open with the children we love so much on the island.


One of the houses Stephen and the men on our team built an extra, plywood room in the back section of this home that burned in 2002. A family of 8 has lived in one front room ever since.


Stephen reading a bible story and discussing it with an adorable child.



Headed out to pick arctic greens on the side of a mountain with our fearless and amazing Siberian Yupic friend for senior citizens on the island who can no longer do so.


Native Siberian Yupic, Dorcas, and I holding hands on our first, sobering unsuccessful attempt at getting into Gambell, Alaska in fog and storms on our bush flight.


The form of transportation on the island. In the winter it is snow machines.


We left the island in sea of hugs and tears. An epic moment.


Our team eating dinner. Only one native made it into this picture, but many other joined us.

Hurt People Hurt People

hurt people

I am a careful, deliberately, protective parent. Overprotective? Maybe. Whatever. Who cares?

The world is fraught with miseries and my main goal as a mother is to instruct my children on how to avoid falling victim to those miseries. To be clear, to me those miseries aren’t necessary a result of material poverties, a health epidemic, or even persecution. They are more painful than that, more desperate. They are spiritual, mental, emotional and relational poverties.

The bearers of these poverties are those who live feeling perpetually victimized by political policies, conspiracy theories, bad drivers, critical family members or coworkers. . . anyone who disagrees with or inconveniences them and their fragile senses of well-being. Oh, our society and churches are filled with these people. . . Sometimes it’s me. . . Might be you.

What am I demonstrating to my children if I pridefully ridicule another driver for mistakes or selfish maneuvers I am certain I have pulled at some point in my life? Am I making powerless victims of my children when I rant and rage and complain bitterly from my living room or blog from my office about political policies and societal ills? What am I teaching my children when I cast merciless judgment on the actions of our neighbors or fellow church members or our friends. . . when there is little to no faith or grace in my words and attitudes?

When I do those things, I am teaching them to feel like victims, to feel powerless, to feel self-entitled. I am feeding them anger and rage and fears and anxieties and bitterness. . .There is no shortage of these feelings and attitudes in the world. One does not have to look far, or even past ourselves to see them.

However, there is this passage in the bible that slays me and all my natural, self-righteous, self-entitled impulses. Gal:5:22-12, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

This is my inheritance, my yardstick for spiritual maturity, the support beams for my temple, built on my foundation of faith. These are my gifts even when the world is failing me. I can watch societies fall, let drivers cut me off, endure when governments strip my rights, bear up under ridicule and judgment from others because of these precious gifts. Others can sin with no regret and that does not have to leave me feeling unstable. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress. In Him will I trust, “ and no other. (Ps 94:22) It’s not the republicans, or the police force, or new legislation of any kind. This peace, this patience, this kindness, this goodness, this faithfulness, this self-control. . . It comes from the Lord as our gift despite our circumstances.

So I teach my children compassion, and overprotect them from those who cast self-righteous, merciless judgments. I want them to see the world through this compassionate lens that so compelled God to send His one and only son to die for us. . . for me. . . for homosexuals. . . for liberals and conservatives . . for selfish drivers. . . .for gossipers. . . We are not victims of a world set against us. Because of His love and grace, and NOT because our political party won or that bad driver was ticketed, Romans 8:37 says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

When people are hurting, they hurt others. It is those who give in to their compulsion to hurt and hang onto an entitlement to earthly comforts and validation from others, and deny forgiveness, mercy and grace to others who need it just as much as we need it for ourselves, who end up hurting others and perpetuation the problem.

The power goes to those who can break that vicious cycle with compassion, mercy, grace and all of those delicious and liberating fruit declared in Galatians. The victors are those who see imperfections in others and the world and offer them the same grace, compassion, mercy, and fruit that we ourselves crave for our own imperfections. Since we live on earth and not in heaven we cannot achieve heaven or perfection in ourselves or others or our circumstances or societies. We can only seek the Lord and his sufficiency to bless us with spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational health in the midst of external suffering.

One last thing, this is not a call to sit cross legged in compassion circles and sing “kumbaya.” Action is needed. Actively reaching out and serving others is key. Sharing our hope through Christ is cornerstone. This is simply call to stop complaining, stop raging, stop with demanding our self-entitlements, and start nourishing a starving world with the nutritious fruit of the Holy Spirit it needs in order to see Christ in us. . .

Lord, I surrender every part of my life to you. Use me that others might see the liberating, victorious truths of your Word in my life.

Romans 8

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Blogging About My Issues With Blogging

Oh, friends, would I ever love to get back into blogging on a regular basis. Here’s the problem that repeatedly stalls any progress toward actually doing it; I can’t find a single topic that meets my ever expanding set of self-imposed rules for writing things I don’t end up feeling terrible about. I have started many blog updates and have subsequently deleted them all when I realize they offend one if not all of my ideals. I’m stalled. I’m stumped. I have a passion, but it’s got major problems.
So, I’ve decided to open myself up to the thoughts of others by posting these self-imposed rules of mine and potentially hearing what others think of them. I would also be curious to hear what, if anything, people would read of mine if I did go back to writing more regularly.
Self-imposed Rules for Blogging:
  1. I don’t want to portray myself as a perfect, super-spiritual, know-it-all, intimidating, stay-at-home-mom. I’m not, and no one should subject themselves to reading stuff like that.
  2. Conversely, I don’t want to throw myself, my children, or my husband under the bus by posting about our many shortcomings, even for altruistic reasons. That kind of stuff makes me do what I call a “compassion cringe”. My heart goes out to the families with moms who air too much before children are old enough to consent, or wives who don’t realize how poorly husband bashing reflects on themselves. . . Though, I know I am personally guilty of having done some level of this before. . .
  3. I should not act like I am an expert on anything since I am not an expert on anything.
  4. I don’t ever want my children to feel like they have to comply with some kind of ideal simply because of how I have portrayed them or our family to others. I don’t want to post “Here’s how to be a happy, loving, creative, God-centered, family” blogs and then have to figure out how to handle a kid making decisions that fly in the face of that image. I also  don’t want to give a rebellious child the power to destroy any image I’ve built up.  Chances are one of my children will at least temporarily do things their own way, and I need to feel free to let that happen without feeling like I’m yet another example of “good parenting gone wrong”, or “posers get exposed”. I’d just rather be an example of “I tried my best even when there are no guarantees” parenting.
  5. It feels to me that everything there is to write about, has already been written about, and not only written about, but beaten to a bloody death all over the ground. Anyone can just share their every thought, however unhealthy, however amazing, at any moment of any day, and so, many, many of us do. If I googled it, I am sure I could find a blog or fifty about this exact same topic floating around not too many clicks away from my own. What is left to say?
  6. I won’t blog for self validation. Oh, that feels so egomaniacal, and I’m really, really trying to break free from viewing the world through the lens of my own insecurities or selfish wants and needs as an individual. The world is bigger than me and my problems, blessings, or giftings, so I should write like it.
  7. Several times in the past I have found myself enjoying a situation or even creating a situation simply because of the blog post it would make. EEK! I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to blog about life, not live to blog.
  8. I don’t want a post to make me or my family feel vulnerable to painful scrutiny. Is avoiding that even possible?
So why would I bother blogging at all?
  1. I love it.
  2. It motivates me sort through my thoughts.
  3. I think it’s cool when others benefit, at times, from my ramblings.
  4. I love reading back through them to see personal growth I might not have noticed otherwise.
  5. I love the record of moments that should never been forgotten.
  6. Others sometimes ask me to.
So, with rare exception, I’ve spent the last few years sorting through my rules rather than writing and now I’m opening them up to you if you care to contribute. Many thanks to my beloved SIL, Natalie, beautiful cousin Jessica, and dazzling new friend Elizabeth, all fellow bloggers, for their wise insights into this topic already.


2013 Christmas Newletter Review while we work on 2014.

I wanted to take a minute this morning to back up something that is very precious to me in yet another way. I want these files to be saved everywhere they can be saved so I never lose them. While the kids and I work our 2014 Christmas newsletter, we reviewed last years. We all laughed as I read through their articles, and I also cried at points while the kids looked at each other awkwardly. There are several typos in this that never got corrected in the JPG version, which is unfortunate, but we all get the point. I absolutely can not WAIT until our 2014 newsletter is ready to publish. Blessings on you and yours!!




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The reasons I homeschool my children when I don’t have to, and they’re probably not what you’re thinking

Aaaahhh, summer “vacation” is here. It is 10:28 in the morning, and I am not forcing bits of unwanted academic information down the throats of my free-spirited offspring. I can take a deep breath and look forward to a summer free of constant structure and rushing to cram in so many things everyone wants out of typical day. I can clean out the clutter and disorder that happens during the busy school year and get things back in order for the next year. We can go to the pool or take a walk through the woods to find wild berries or drive over to help my grandparents without feeling like I have to push a mountain sized list of commitments out of the way to do it.

A reoccurring thought I’ve had from time to time pops into my mind which causes me to reevaluate the fundamentals of a major life decision I made even before I ever really considered having children. My brain says, and I quote, “Why the heck do I put myself through the emotional and psychological rollercoaster that is homeschooling my children when I don’t have to?” Good question. Good question.

Is it that I think homeschooling children is what makes a life meaningful or is part of what makes a good parent? No. I honestly don’t. My parents were amazing, and they sent me and my brother to public schools for most of our childhood. In fact, I make a habit of evaluating parenthood under my own, self-constructed, “Third-World-Parent” paradigm. In a situation where a parent has nothing to offer a child but love, as much protection as they have the power to provide, and as many basic necessities as they have access to, where all extracurricular activities, academic choice, travel, fashion, luxuries and entertainment are unknown and impossible, can they still be a good parent? Well, of course. Of course. If something in our first-world parenting habits can be stripped from it, and you can still picture an amazing parent out there somewhere without the ability to provide those things, then they are not a fundamental part of good parenting. They are luxuries, extras, things we should feel grateful for and not entitled to.

So, then is it something I do for my own ego and self-image? Is it something I do to prove something to myself about my own worthiness as a woman or as a parent? Is it something I do to look amazing or super godly to the world around me? Am I doing this to project an image of myself to others or maintain an image I want of myself? Well, if I’m not careful, then honestly, yes. Sometimes I fall into that miserable and insatiable trap, but is that why I keep doing this homeschool thing? Goodness gracious, no. Certainly not, because even when I’m reasonably certain I couldn’t feel any more insecure than I do about the success of my children academically, socially, spiritually and all the other “ly’s” that I could add to this list, I push passed my damaged ego and press on. Even when I’m lost in a sea of homeschool critics at a neighborhood pool party who find my choice very uncool and disturbing, I don’t waver. Neither self-image nor public-image could not possibly be the foundation of my choice to wake up 180 mornings a year and drag my precious, but typically short-sighted children to the school table while they take every opportunity to make it clear they would rather do anything else, (except get up before the sun and ride a bus to a full day of school and still have to come home to do more schoolwork. That they know full well from their friends.) If self-image and public-image were my priority, there are far more self-glorifying choices I could make with my life.

Is it because I am a religious, control freak who fears the influences that come with sending my children to private or public school? This is something I have turned over and over in my mind to make sure I am being very honest with myself about, and here’s why. I am a person who never, ever wants to make decisions based on fear. I am rebellious against fear, and I seek the Lord for complete faith that He can work and move in amazing ways in the midst of any situation that comes our way. Fear is never a good foundation for any decision. Fear lies. It controls. It steals life. In fact, if I am truly afraid of something, I do my best to face it every time and strengthen those muscles that make me cowardly. Do I believe there are influences in an institutionalized school system that I do not want engrained in my children’s hearts and minds? Yes, and I will get into this aspect of my decision later, but do I believe it is fear of those influences that drives my decisions? No. It is not fear.

Is it because I can’t afford private school? It’s not that either. I could go back to real estate and work hard to make the money I would need to send my children to private school. I could scale back my life now and afford to send my children to private school if that was something we decided to do. Homeschooling my children is not something I do because private school is not an option.

Is it that I don’t want to get a job where I am held accountable for my time? In reality, I have a husband that values my flexibility to be available to skirt off with him to this country or that state whenever the opportunity arises. He values my attention to our family and to his career. He enjoys having someone at home he can call on to take care of things he can’t while he’s on the road. He values my ability to volunteer for a good cause whenever there is a need without having to work around a demanding career. Even when the children are grown and gone, I think he would still rather I choose a lifestyle that allows for those flexibilities, so it’s not like he’s itching for me to get a job and start accumulating wealth. I could, if I wanted, send my children to public school and spend my days sipping coffee, shopping, sun tanning, and traveling on a whim with a very basic “to do” list to occupy my time.

“So what the heck? I mean, really?” I ask myself. “What the HECK?!” My kids can still grow up and do drugs and/or get knocked up just like other kids. My kids could grow up to be lazy quitters with loads of issues they blame on me and my flawed parenting. They can and will question all of my parenting decisions, and I will stand accountable to them on some levels for the choices I made with their lives. Gosh, I love my parents and I think they did the best job possible, but I still went through a very critical period where I blamed them for my problems and very judgmentally went about structuring any of those issues out of my own parenting style with reckless abandon. But while I was occupied with structuring out one problem, another one was created behind my back. The attempt to make life perfect is an exercise in futility that could drive a person insane.

The honest reality of why I homeschool when I don’t really have to comes down to one simple truth. I can, so I do. I don’t have to work to earn money. I have the resources to pull it off. I have the intelligence, health, energy and desire to be with my children as much I can for this ridiculously brief period of time called childhood. I have the support of my husband, family, and friends. I do believe there are many benefits to homeschooling my children or I wouldn’t do it. However, the number one reason is simply that I can, so I do. And considering I think there are amazing parents who can’t, so they don’t, there is no reason to make it more altruistic that.

Now, here are the reasons I feel crazy blessed that I can homeschool. There is this issue of influences I mentioned above. Every parent who cares at all, considers the influences in their children’s lives and tries to mitigate the ones they view as bad. Now, what those bad influences are considered to be is going to vary greatly from parent to parent, but I think we can all agree that parenthood for the not chronically aloof involves one quest after the next to seek “good” influences for our impressionable children over “bad” ones.

Here’s something I love. My children’s self-image does not come from, nor is it influenced by the actions or opinions of other immature, insecure children. They will never be the “nerd” in their class or, even more damaging in my opinion, experience harassing the socially ostracized without my immediate attention to teach them a lesson in love and compassion. They do not have to deal with peer pressure to make themselves worthy of love and attention by wearing the right name brands or having the latest fashions and trends. I don’t have to answer questions about elementary friends who one second say they want to be batman when they grow up and in the next statement claim to be gay before any child is even ready to navigate the muddied waters of sexuality. Actually, who is ever ready to navigate that? I am just grateful I get to put that off until I can’t dodge around it anymore. I could go on and on, but I’ll just finish this thought with the statement that childhood should be simple and uncomplicated by social pressures to conform to any image outside of their God-given, vivid, and uninhibited imaginations. It is the best possible foundation for them to achieve what they are driven to achieve for their own and God’s purposes, rather than for the conditional, ever fleeting approval and acceptance of others.

Do I think there is value to battling through some of these painful obstacles in order to build character? Yes, I do. Do I think homeschooling completely removes these pressures? No, I don’t. My children have loads of friends, play sports, go to church and play in the neighborhood with all sorts of character building issues to work through every day. Life is hard and necessarily builds character whatever route you take. But remember, I can live out my ideals with my children the way I want to, and so I do. I want to be there when my children are experiencing life’s hardships with a voice of reason, compassion, and healthy perspectives. I just don’t want to leave that job to a teacher with 30 or more students in a room and, let’s face it, not always, but often times coming from a damaged and unhealthy perspective themselves. I don’t have to, and so I don’t.

Oh, gosh, and do I ever love their curriculum! Every single day we read books together and on their own about individuals who lead amazing, family, community or even world changing lives. They work through difficult challenges and obstacles to accomplish what they are driven to accomplish. They stand up to pressures to compromise who they are or what they should be doing at all personal costs. It is a curriculum that views the whole world through a lens of love and compassion for all people, even those who have wronged us or who we disagree with, and encourages my children to never use life’s trials to excuse themselves from doing the right things. My children are not being raised to embrace prideful, self-entitled, American patriotism, but rather to be grateful for and humbled by all of life’s blessings including being born into a country where we are free to make choices for our own lives and then use those choices to bless those around us as well as the rest of the world.

I get to teach critical thought and basic values through which to evaluate the world around them. Though we don’t do politics around here, of course, my information is bias. However, we don’t bash or worship Obama or the democrats. We don’t glorify the republicans. We talk about all leaders and legislation in the light of those basic values and thought processes, and we teach respect for our God given leaders even when they do things we disagree with. We discuss all possible responses to legislation or bad leadership, and I allow my children to express their own reaction to each situation without forcing them to think the way I want them to think. I just pray that some of their reactions mature over the years, as I am sure they will. I enjoy being the one to lay a foundation of free, and critical thought, and so I do.

Then there are life skills. I can’t take so many hours a day to school the children and do everything else on my own, so it is necessary that the children pitch in and help. From a very young age they could handle their own breakfasts and sort their own laundry. We talk about how to construct a balanced meal, and then we make one. We run errands and they are with me, listening to me deal with cashiers, and learning how to compare prices and match sales with coupons. They can clean and reorganize their own bedrooms and help with yard work. We can babysit and they change the diapers and care for the children. We drive and discuss traffic laws and road rage and discuss all matters of life and living while we do. Satellite radio in the van becomes music class as I make the kids hold the melody in their favorite songs while I harmonize, and then teach them the harmony. At any given moment they have a zillion pressing questions that must be carefully answered, and since I don’t have to delegate that time to anyone else for any extended period of time, I don’t, and that’s wonderful to me.

And what about the life skill of being able to function as a family? We have to work through our issues or we’ll steep in them. There is nowhere to go to escape our feelings, so we all must develop communication skills, grace, unconditional love and forgiveness for each other if we don’t want to live with constant anger and frustration. I’d say that’s a rather important “class” I teach every single day.

I love having the flexibility to travel whenever we want to for however long we want to, schedule doctors’ appointments at times of day with no wait, and live life when it needs to happen rather than structure it completely around academics. A friend had to deal with the sudden death of his father, and then had to deal with Georgia’s family services at his door for pulling his children out of school too long for the funeral. A funeral is an unexcused absence in the public school system here, and that is a shame. In the end these friends did not get into any trouble with the law, but to have to defend themselves for grieving the death of a father. . . And since I’m so grateful that I don’t have to deal with that, I don’t.

I loved watching my children take their first bites, and their first steps, ride bike, swim in the deep end all on their own, and all the things most parents live to experience with their children. For me, that doesn’t end with enrolling a child in kindergarten. I love being the one to watch them sound out their first word, see their satisfaction with mastering math facts, connect two abstract concepts on their own, or write their first, complete sentence. I love being there to see them do something selfless for another person as that is as foundational to our curriculum as basic reading, writing or arithmetic. I could send my kids out to school and take life easier, but then I will grieve the loss of our 1:00 Monday afternoon “class” at storehouse ministries, packing boxes of food for the homeless, or feeding the homeless man we drove past on the way to our 10:00am field trip to the history museum.

Oh, yeah, and then my last point in a not completely comprehensive list of reasons why I homeschool when I don’t have to is related to the academics. To be clear, I am actually an advocate for public schools. Society as a whole benefits from a system where each child is engaged in compulsory education. If you don’t believe that, you’ve never been to the developing world. However, when I see my own children, I see that I’ve got that brainy, excessively academic child, and that creative, free-spirited child with learning disabilities, and that imaginative child who can’t stop talking or hold still for more than 5 seconds, and that child who can’t concentrate unless everything is still and silent. They are all typical children with unique needs and because they are mine and I have a vested interest seeing them all meet their fullest potential, I can tailor their education in a way no institutionalized setting can to meet those needs and work through their unique challenges.

I’ve taken many classes and will take more on how to manage it all and teach to their strengths and weaknesses and understand their academic struggles and brain functions. A world of help and support is out there for me and for them. Considering we have access to all of that, and I desire to navigate through it all for the satisfaction I get from giving something my all and seeing it pay off from time to time in my own children’s lives and even in the lives of those they touch, I continue to do it because I can. The day may come when I can’t . . .Well, actually, they will grow up and this time will come to an end, but while I still can, I reflect on these things to give me strength for the years ahead, and to remind myself to feel grateful for the privilege of living out my ideals the way my heart desires. It is a unique blessing that I fully understand is not available to all, so I try not to squander it or take it for granted or arrogantly make it a standard by which all should live. I homeschool my children when I don’t have to because I can, so I do, and that’s that.


SCHOOOOOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!! Evan completed 4th, Julia 3rd, Harrison 2nd and Eli completed kindergarten.


The kids show off their new hiking footwear for our big summer trip out west to Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

A letter to my Children

I am going to type through this to work out whether or not this analogy holds water. I was thinking of the parent/child relationship in reference to Paul’s verses in Galatians 3:23-24 about the Law being the guardian until Christ came that we might be justified through faith. It’s not  a perfect analogy, but our relationship as parent-children is something like it. Until you are adults/are acting like adults, our relationship is largely based on rules and boundaries to keep you safe and grow you up into a well rounded individual, equipped to be used by God however He sees fit.

Then when you begin to act like adults, the rules and regulations, boundaries and safety nets begin to fade away and in its place this relationship primarily based on faith and trust begins. At first we are all just testing the waters of it to see what you are ready for, progressively giving you more and more freedom. But then, suddenly, it’s all gone, and I have no hold on you or your life what-so-ever.

There is a part of me that wants to fear that. I love your sweet innocence and your untainted hearts to believe everything I tell you like it’s the gospel truth. I love that you trust my decisions so blindly and even your questioning of me is all for the sake of learning and understanding. I love being the one to make decisions on your safety and having the ability to keep a constant eye on you and on all of your decisions. If I let myself, I can dread and agonize over the loss of this power I have over 4 of the most important people who will ever be in my life, especially considering all the dangerous and useless life choices there are to make out there.

However, I also have loved every minute of watching you guys growing up so far. I love watching you blossom and grow and become your own person. I love watching you reason through things and come to an understanding for yourselves. I love that I can trust you to walk around the corner or run in the woods behind the house without my constant hovering. I love being able to take my hands off of your relationships a little bit and let you make your own mistakes to learn from. Every step of independence I have given you, you have thrived, made me proud. You inspire other people who you come in contact with, and your precious personalities and hearts for the Lord encourage people everywhere we go from your Sunday school teachers to the people who sit across from us at restaurants.

I LOVED my babies and I always wanted more, but they were so much work and responsibility for me. In retrospect, I think I almost lost my mind with the weight of it all. So, whenever I start to fear the future, I look at how far we’ve come! I’m just going to have faith and trust that it only gets better from here. I will get the pleasure of seeing you grow to make great decision, get an education, use it for the Lord’s glory, maybe marry and bring me grandbabies here and there and bring me more joy than I could have imagined while I am still spanking bottoms for swinging from the ceiling fans instead of getting ready for bed.

As our relationship based on rules and regulations, boundaries and safety nets shifts to one completely based on faith and trust, I am going to begin practicing now. I’m not going to worry about things that haven’t happened yet, and I’m going to keep pouring myself into training you guys how to think and act for yourselves, and then have faith and trust in God to do the rest. . . even if you guys take a redemption requiring detour along the way to getting to all God has called for you to be. After all, that’s what God demonstrated for us even unto the death of His one and only son. I love you no matter what.

Northern Exposure (Homeward and Alaska Bound)

Blogger totally fritzed out on me last night and is always rather a nuisance to me, so I decided to give this blogging site a try and I like it. Here is a link to the photo album that goes along with this blog update http://tynesclan.phanfare.com/5684391. I was able to move my whole blog over from blogger so it’s all available here! YAY!

I just have not been able to muster up an interest in my blog at all this year. It’s crazy. I will start to write about something, and then soon realize I can’t make myself care about that topic at all. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just couldn’t find a motivating thing to write about even though I have really come to love writing out my thoughts. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to get to it this week.

I was discussing my dilemma with my friend, Tanika, over lunch today, and she said, “Why don’t you write about your trip to Alaska?” Well, that was it. I do have a few thoughts about my trip I would like for my kids to remember, and so, in an instant, I had my motivation.

Late last fall my friend Cheryl Wolfinger who runs a missions organization began asking me to go to the artic tundra city of Nome, Alaska to minister to a precious group of people there who have a great need for some hope in this world, that, of course, I believe is found only in Jesus Christ. The more I heard about these people, the more of a burden I carried for them. Because the people I hope to reach out to probably have internet, I want to be SUPER protective about what I say regarding their struggles, but of course since we are making this trip to establish relationships, there is work to be done up there. I guess I can say because it is commonly known that in Alaska,  alcoholism, suicide and child abuse are at the highest rates of anywhere in the world. Anyone who knows me knows the cold and I are not friends. Definitely NOT friends. Yet, I truly love these native Alaskans for a reason I can’t explain, and I don’t even know them.

The next thing  I know, Stephen and I are sitting across from Cheryl early last spring to discuss the possibility of a missions trip to both Nome and Savoonga, Alaska in August. Nome is on the west coast of Alaska on the Bering Sea and Savoonga is on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Strait closer to Russia. It involves long flights on very small planes to extremely remote locations with no medical facilities to speak of, even potentially a bush flight, and completely different challenges and opportunities than I have ever experienced, but it seemed like a good possibility that we were going. I was so excited I could hardly stand it.

Then in an instant our world got flipped turned upside down when Stephen had a major, major blowout of his knee during a church softball game in April, followed by a major knee surgery with loads of physical therapy and very restricted mobility for 3 straight months. Plus, the work project he is on is very demanding right now and he had already lost a lot of time do to his knee issues. It is also a very expensive trip and will cost our family in more ways than just financial. As much as I wanted to go and see these people I carry such a burden for with my whole heart, I decided it was best to surrender the trip to the Lord and let Him work out the details.

I knew I didn’t want it on my conscience that I had manipulated this trip into being. I wanted this to be something Stephen and I agreed on and did together, and I wanted to see God’s hand in working out the financial, health, and work related issues to release us to go. I was tempted to stress the details when Stephen was struggling so hard with his leg, or when work seemed to be putting pressure on him, but I surrendered that stress to the Lord again and again and chose instead to trust.

6 or 7 weeks after Stephen’s surgery he began to get back on his feet again and with the help of his newest high tech leg brace, life is beginning to return to something that resembles normal again. Then work released Stephen  at the end of last week to take “vacation time”. We discussed it, and Stephen was a bit nervous, but still on board with taking the trip even though I repeatedly told him we didn’t have to if he didn’t feel ready. Even though I had really given the trip completely up just a few days before, Sunday night we ordered our airline tickets to leave just 7 days later. Now my head is swirling and whirling with all of the things that need to get done before we head out less than 4 days from now, the morning of Sunday, August 5th. We will spend 10 days away from home and return on the 15th of August.

All along I have tried to keep my children involved in this process. For starters they have saved some hard earned money from their chores to donate toward things we may need to purchase for the Alaskans while we are there. I also had them praying with us for the details to be worked out, and I now I have asked them to pray for us as we prepare to leave.

The kids all understand that someone needs to go up there and they understand that Jesus tells Christians to go and serve and love others so they can understand His love for them, but they are struggling with letting me go for so long. On one hand, that makes it very hard on me. I already struggle constantly against feeling guilty about everything, and now to leave them for what people in this area consider a potentially dangerous or at least very “unnecessarily” uncomfortable and costly trip. . . I can get sucked up into thinking I am doing the wrong thing by my children.

However, I have to remind them (and also myself at times) that God has made it clear to me that this is a trip He wants Stephen and I to take. I ask them how I can expect them to grow up and serve the Lord if I am not willing to do so myself. I read and teach and dwell on the lessons that focus on serving the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, regardless of what that means, and I’ve got to live that out in front of them if it is to have any meaning at all.

For me personally, it is extremely important that my life look different because of my faith. My husband has a very successful career and can provide for all of my wants and needs with relative ease. My life could be very easy and safe if I wanted it to be. I could look just like my non-Christian “neighbors” who are able to go through life thinking of nothing but fashion, travel, materialism, safety, and sensible decision making. I can’t tell you how much I don’t want it said at my funeral, “She had such neat shoes.” or, “She was so healthy and fit.” or “She had such a successful career”.  Even if no one in the world remembers me when I’m gone, if my life was used to show others Christ’s love and inspired other Christians to act on faith in love, then I will have considered my life to have been a great success, and chief among those I want God to use me to inspire are those in my own family. I can’t do that without truly acting on faith in love. The best thing I can do for my children is to set the example for them, even if God calls me to do something that costs me my life. I have to trust that He can care for my children and knows what they need in order to become godly individuals better than I do.

So, here I go. Off to Alaska and despite everything I couldn’t be more excited than I am. I can’t wait to take pictures and share with others about my trip. I can’t wait to do something I could not do without my faith. I love to be in situations where I could let myself fear or chose to trust and then get to chose to trust. I wanted to mention that I do not believe this trip to Alaska to be any more dangerous than anything else in life is. I am merely writing this based on some of the fears I have heard others express when I tell them about my trip.  Maybe the real person to pray for is my MIL, Lynn Tynes. She’ll have the kids the whole time  we are gone ;>)

Random Family Memories:

Things I hear myself saying during a typical school morning.
“EW!! What are you drinking? Take that dirty paper towel out of your cup!”
“<Sigh> I guess Hulk’s boobs are green.”
“Quit. Licking. Your math book.”
“It’s lunch time. Why are you naked?”
“Alright, who completely missed the potty?”
“OOOOOOH, precious! I love you too, my love”.
Wouldn’t trade this interesting/rewarding life of mine for anything, to-be-sure

We had our bi-annual trip to the dentist a couple of weeks ago and discovered yet again that despite having 88 teeth to care for besides my own, there is not a single cavity among us. Whew!

HERE is the link to the captioned photos of our year so far. You can see any other of our albums at this link as well including the full amount of pictures from our trips to MN and others. I no longer add the photos to the blog itself. It just takes too much time.



-has grown up so much this year, not only just going from size 8 to size 10 in clothes or from size one in shoes to a size 5, but also in maturity. He has suddenly become so much more self aware. He walks around with his hands in his pockets, trying to play things cool, taking in his surroundings, seeing where he fits in. In fact, soon I’ll have to stop the blog or make it very private on his account. He is started to get self conscious about the things I write, so I try to be sensitive to his feelings of privacy.

-is going into 3rd grade this year. He is 71.4 pounds and 55″ tall.

Evan:  Mom, why did that guy get pulled over?
Me: That is not something I could possibly know. Maybe he was  speeding or ran a stop sign?
Evan: No way! Running a stop sign is not illegal!
Me: Uuuuh, yes. It sure is.
Evan: No it’s not.
Me: Yes it is.

Evan: No, it’s not.

Me: Dazzling argumentation here. I guess you MUST be right.

Evan: Hmmmmmmm. Weird law. When did THAT happen?

Me: Like 100 years ago. WHEN did YOU become just like ME? Where’s my phone. I  need to call Grandma and Grandpa and apologize.

What I want to know, is why he thought I would know what was going on with a traffic stop we are driving by, but argues with me about basic traffic laws. I wonder that while at the same time seeing the same tendencies in myself.


Evan: Mom,can I have dessert?

Me: I thought you just told me you were super full.

Evan: I did. Buuut, I have 2 stomachs; a sugar stomach and a regular food stomach.



Me: Whoa! No. That would indeed not be OK.

Son: What about on the deck. I could make a trap door down to the yard.

Me: I, um. . . <sigh> How about if you ask your dad about this.

Son: What if I just build a cabin about the size our kitchen in the back yard for my friends and I to hang out in away from the other kids. I could build it by myself.

Me: Ooooh. . . wow. Um, I guess the first thing you’ll need to do is draw up the plans and take it to the next neighborhood association meeting for their approval.

Son: What? What do they care? It’s our yard!

Me: Then you’ll need to ask dad about using the tools and saving up the money for the wood and tools.

Son: I could just use the wood from his scrap pile. I know everything about building a cabin. I’m gonna put in a doorbell and a revolving door like at the hotels we stay in.

Me: Oh, I can’t wait for your dad to get home. This should be good.


Once a week we pray for a people group somewhere in the world who does not have a bible in their own language. Evan always volunteers to pray and my favorite line in his prayer each week is this. “Lord, these people need someone to come and learn their language so they can translate the bible into their language, and if you want it to be us, then let it be us”. It chokes me up every time.

I just can’t get over what a great team player he is on his basketball and soccer teams. He has such a great attitude about everything, even being asked to play for the opposing team, it just makes me beam with pride.

He loves, loves, loves fishing and has figured out how to be a very successful fisherboy even in the creek in our back yard. I posted some pictures.

Has SEVERAL wild and out-of-this-world ideas of things he can accomplish every day.

Has been learning to ride the unicycle, an important Ringsmuth tradition.He tries for a bit and then burns out. I thought if I showed him how I could ride it would encourage him, but it just frustrated him that his ol’ mom was better than him.  He’ll get there.


-got her ears pierced at the same place I did as a child while we were home last December for Christmas. Everything went so smoothly with it all. She didn’t cry and was very brave. The bummer was about 6 months later her ear grew around the backing on her earing  after a couple of weeks of not spinning it. It didn’t hurt her, but it scared her enough she wanted her earings straight out and has had no desire to wear them since. We can pierce them again when she’s ready.

For Julia’s birthday we got her box filled with girly colored legos. She loves to play with the boys, but our lego collection is very “manly”. We have been building a collection of pink and purple legos, flowers, girl people, lego puppies with pink leashes. . . You name it. At first we got her a couple of kits and she put them together, following the instructions carefully. Then for her birthday we just got her a large tub of them. There were several ideas of things to build on instructions inside the tub and she immediately set out to build them all. A couple of hours later I heard her sobbing, completely broken hearted, in a far corner of the house. She explained that pieces were missing from her box and she couldn’t finish building. I explained to her that her tub was full of random pieces, not a kit and she could be as creative as she wanted to be in building whatever she wanted to build. The tub wasn’t missing pieces, the instructions were just meant to give her ideas on several different things she could build, but not all at once. In fact, she didn’t need to build those things at all. She was stunned. She had no idea she could do whatever she wanted to do with the legos. She sprinted across the house and ripped every one of her completed lego projects apart, piece by piece and begin building ideas she had in her own head. She kept repeating, “I just can’t believe I can build whatever I want. Thank you, thank you for telling me I could build whatever I want”. She was so pumped to have a creative outlet with her legos. It’s so interesting the way kids’ minds work.

-is very self-sufficient in the kitchen when it comes to baking. She’s become very helpful when I’m prepare desserts for events.

-Julia is 47.6 pounds and 49 inches tall at 7 years old.

We may have figured out she has a little bit of dyslexia after speaking with an expert about some of her symptoms. The expert gave me several ideas to help her and it nearly over night changed several issues I had been having with her. I think she will learn to function very normally once I teach her how to manage it effectively.

She has been in piano lessons this summer and is loving learning to play and her teacher. It’s fun to watch her learn so much about music, something for which I was passionate about as a kid and am getting back into more as an adult.

-loves caring for babies. She can’t wait to get old enough start babysitting and says she wants to run a daycare when she grows up.

-is speaking in less and less baby talk all of the time after an intensely strong-willed baby talk phase I wrote about in my last entry. Whew!

-begged for a LONG time to baptized and after several discussions with us and our children’s pastor we have a date set for August 19th. She believes she asked Jesus into her heart with her daddy this spring.

-Is going into 2nd grade this year.


-has hit a major growth spurt this summer. He now weighs 44 pounds and is 46″ tall, which is 2 inches and almost 2 pounds this summer.

-learned to ride his bike this spring. Julia taught him how in the driveway in just a few minutes and off he went. I didn’t even know he could ride until I walked outside and caught him. He amazes me.

-even though both of his brothers are playing soccer this fall and Julia is taking piano, he is totally insistent that he does not do any extra-curricular activities. I am a bit conflicted about this, but I’m still going with it for now.

-loves to hug and kiss his mamma, and I love it right back. He is, however, affectionate with no one else that I know of.

-he is a bit of a loner outside of playing with his siblings and his friend Clay, who is going into 5th grade.

-loves to color and draw. LOVES it, but doesn’t want to take an art class.

-He lost his first tooth this spring before he turned 6 while pulling two Legos apart with his teeth. He just walked up to me nonchalantly with it in his hand and said, “Here, Mom. I lost my tooth”. I really didn’t even know it was very wiggly.

-was SUCH a trooper with all of our travels this year back and forth to MN. He loves to be at home, but he went with the flow beautifully.

-favorite things on earth are Legos, x-box, computer games, and anything Lego Ninjago, Batman, or Star Wars.

-loves to work to earn money.

-is going into first grade this year.


-This kid LOVES being the baby of the family and milks it for whatever he can.

-still has an adorable lisp on his “s” sounds.

-He is 41 pounds and 41.5 inches tall at 4 years and 2 months old.

-is going to play his first season of soccer starting next month and is very excited about it.

-I’m gonna start him out in school with me this year. We’ll go at his pace, but he’s going to have to participate in many of the classes now instead of being able to wander more freely like he did last year.

-We never know what he’s going to do next.

-after exclaiming that he doesn’t like bacon, Stephen joking says, “Eli, are you out of your mind!” Eli’s answer? “Yup!”

-“Mom, bees come from tornados. They just swirl the bees up into the bee hive.”

-After reading a part in a story where a missionary accidentally lit himself on fire, Eli pipes in, “Mom, if he stayed on fire, he would be a fireman. Then if a bad guy touched him, he would be like, ‘OOOH, OUCH!!!'”

-his favorite things to do are play with Legos and make enormous messes.

-can not be motivated by anything to clean up after himself. Money does not speak to him yet and he doesn’t care about TV, computer or x-box games very much at all.

Here again is the link to the online photo album with the captioned photos to go alone with this blog update. http://tynesclan.phanfare.com/5684391

What Kind of Pie?

I mentioned this in my last blog update (over 4 months ago!) that I have lost steam for my blog of late. However, I have been thinking a lot about a particular subject that I am no authority on, but have felt compelled to write about. So, for this update, I am writing to the future Rochelle Tynes regarding something I want to hypothesize on and then come back to in 20 years to evaluate how it worked out. I don’t think what I am writing about is a revolutionary new thought. In fact, I think it is one young families are doing more and more without necessarily even realizing it. Whatever the reality of it is, I want to get my thoughts out of my head and put them here to look back on sometime down the road.

In this update I want to spell out just exactly what my plan is for raising kids who grow up to truly live their lives for the Lord and have a desire to serve and reach the world with a community of believers/the church. Statistics these days are staggering, horrifying in fact, regarding how many kids raised in Christian homes turn their backs on the way they were raised and live their lives set apart from the faith. I have spent MUCH time in prayer and have even been caught up in fearful fits of tears over the idea that I could bring children into this world who do not grow up to live their lives for Christ. I admit to going through times where I had no real hope for them and felt overcome by my inability to compete with what this world has to offer.

I think in generations gone by, especially here in supposedly Christian America, behavior modification has been the name of the game for many people. “Good” Christian parents focused on making their children look, sound like, and act the part. They had the kids in church each and every moment the doors were open. They emphasized the diligent discipline of “quiet time” for prayer and bible study with the Lord. There was very much an “us/them” mentality with non-Christians and even Christians of other denominations where children were taught to fear those who were not like themselves. All behavior that could possibly be considered a slippery slope (drinking, dancing, movies, pants, haircuts, playing cards) were all judged sinful behaviors because they lead to even more feared behaviors like premarital sex, gambling, addictions, or rock & roll. Participating in those activities were evidence that someone did not have a personal relationship with Jesus or had backslidden. Only Republicans were Christians (based largely on the prolife platform) and it was our moral duty to vote so we could create more laws that structured the behavior of those not like ourselves to look less like what we feared. If a group of people at a church began to voice something we considered a slippery slope issue or expressed a desire to allow those into the church who did not have the sense to look and act the part of the Christian everyone needed them to be, then the church would just split in two and live in fear of the influence the newest rival church could have over the now badly wounded body left behind.

I mean, Gosh! Sign me up, right? And kids, get yourself a slice of fearful, judgmental, prideful, gossiping, legalistic, wounded, patriotic, Republican pie! Believe you me. It is SUPER DUPER easy for me to get caught up in this too. Thinking of myself as the righteous one and others as unrighteous slobs makes me feel better about myself. I grew up with parents who loved the Lord and always, always wanted to do the right things, but I got to experience all of these first hand as a child. If I have departed from buying into that garbage at all it is largely because I have watched my parents apologize to those they have hurt and reach out to those that once made them uncomfortable and give their lives over to serve and reach the lost, not to mention walking away from a life of Republican agendas for a life of trusting in God’s sovereignty over our nation and laws. (This is not to say there aren’t godly Republicans with faith-filled agendas. Please don’t miss the point here.)

So, I get back to my hypothesis. What do I do/am I going to continue to do in hopes that we beat the odds and raise 4 children who love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds and strengths and then, as a result, love their neighbor (AKA fearfully and wonderfully made humanity) as they love themselves? There are no guarantees in life to-be-sure, but I think it’s also helpful to have a paradigm to guide our parenting. Here’s mine, and it’s based on about a million scriptures that I am narrowing down to a few.

“Philippians 4: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.”

I have written about this before in regards to how I try to structure my thinking, but in relation to parenting, I ask my children to investigate what is going on in their hearts. Are they making decisions out of fear, or nobility. Are they doing what’s easy or what’s right? Do they strive for purity in their hearts and minds or are they acting out of judgmental self-righteousness? Do they focus on living a life that brings glory to God or to themselves? Is truth more important to them than ego. Are their hearts filled with gratitude or dissatisfaction and jealousy? Is their driving force a peaceful faith or a fearful reaction? Is their time in prayer and Bible study based in some legalistic check list that earns them godly Brownie points, or does it flow from a heart of love, faith, and gratitude for what the Lord has done for us? It’s not that children are mature enough to manage such complex ideas at all times, but it I do believe it is in their best interest to lay a foundation of self reflection so they can make decisions with an honest and surrendered heart before the Lord.

There are several verses in Romans 14 & 15 that make my next point, but the Bible is literally loaded to the gills with supporting passages that give me my next parenting paradigm.

Romans 14
1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.
4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 15
1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

And here’s one of my favorite Bible passages to-the-max.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

THAT is how I want to raise my children to think. I want the Holy Spirit to fill them with them fruit of the Spirit and other godly virtues of the heart so much so that they are compelled to love and serve others humbly with compassion, faith and trust in God to effect any change that needs to happen. I don’t want them to bare the burden of fixing society or their church or their neighbor or feel the fear or powerlessness of watching the world spin out of their control toward an end that the bible already says is set in stone. With Christ there is an eternity to live in a utopia we can not create now no matter how hard we fight.

So, as for me and my house (of course, Stephen is not only on board but leading the charge) we will not fight. We will trust and seek to flesh out the fruit of the spirit, teaching, instructing, guiding, encouraging with compassion, patience, and humility with each and every person that God puts into our lives along the way.

On a practical level, here’s how I use these passages when teaching my children how to relate to the church. The older the kids get, the more they are aware of issues like disrespectful or mean children, friends with divorcing or never married parents and blended families, kids who don’t come to church regularly or who have parents who don’t come to church. I know there was a time when I would have tried to structure out of their lives both the personal impact each situation could have on them and even the awareness of them. However, I am shifting my approach to be one that disciples them on how to view each situation and each person with the compassion we would want others to have on us.

There is a kid at church with a strong and not very enduring personality who frightens and frustrates my children. This child never does them physical harm, but disrespectfulness and unruly behavior upsets them (despite the fact that they can exhibit these behavior themselves at times). I have, in the past, tried to make sure they didn’t have to come in contact with kids like this. I was afraid of the influence they could have on my sweet children or of the damage they could do to them and tried to maintain control of the situation. However I have decided that someone needs to love up on this kid, so why not us? Stephen and I have since sat down with the kids at different points and discussed the sad family situation this child endures and why that would manifest itself in someone’s behavior. “Hurt people hurt people” is one of my favorite sayings. It easily breaks their young hearts to imagine going through what this poor kid has been through, and even though the child’s behavior still seems an injustice to them, I can see them trying to be brave and include unruly children whenever they can work up the courage.

When they ask about a child who does not have a Christian parent or one parent is missing or has run off, rather than casting judgment on the offending individual, we talk about the hurt that brought them to that point and pray for them that God would deliver them from that so they can make choices that free them up to live a glorified life. When I see my children’s hearts break for hurting people rather than shooting off some judgmental comment, tears fill my eyes. They are so little and they so easily get something that alluded me for so long. When I see my children look at people who are not dressed as they are dressed or colored as they are colored or are morbidly obese or super model thin or covered in pimples or missing limbs and realize that they already don’t make value judgments or fear or feel insecure because of their differences, then I know they are getting it. They are not filled with the frustration that I believe many church kids feel when they are raised by Christian parents to cast judgment on everyone around them (bless their hearts) in the name of Jesus. Why would they want to go to church where everyone stews in the frustration of the failings of those around them and lives in fear of how everything could possibly effect their own future? I know I didn’t want to, and if not for the love for the body of Christ I saw in my parents even to the point of humbling themselves in apology for their own mistakes on that road, I very well might not be where I am today. . . In a place where I myself owe apologies to those I have hurt, and where I strive toward doling out forgiveness as liberally as it has been given.

For the rest of my kids’ lives they will run across troubled people, Christians and non-Christians alike, homosexuals, pro-choicers, liberal democrats, rich, poor, ugly, beautiful, talented, paralyzed, immodest, tattooed, famous, unloved, etc., and I believe if we want the church to look like what the Bible calls us to, then we have to love all of the diverse people He sends our way and trust HIM to work and move in their lives as well as our own. By all means, teach, instruct, guide, encourage everyone in the truths of the Word, but with the compassion, humility and patience we want others to have with us. The day I knew I was on the right track with the kids was the day they came to me with a story about some friends of their grandma’s who had been robbed at a Zaxby’s chicken restaurant. They wanted to add the robber to their prayer list. It was honestly their hearts that the robber come to know Jesus so he wouldn’t be so sad that he felt he had to steal anymore. He’s still there, on our prayer list, right between the names of two loved ones they want to come to know Jesus, and that seems completely right to them.

On a more solemn note I want to state something more explicitly than what I have alluded to throughout this blog update. Of course, there are phenomenal, loving, godly, example setting parents whose children make the decision to walk away from Lord. Even our perfect heavenly father endures the majority of His creation turning their backs on Him. It’s foolish to believe there is a fool proof plan. I just want a plan, a paradigm to guide me on this journey based on what the Lord has been teaching me in His word.

It’s also impossible to escape the incredible importance of the most pivotal part of my plan. Prayer. It’s something I have been covered, bathed, lavished in my whole life by the generations of godly parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and one God fearing, amazing great-great grandmother who died when I was a child. Surely that has played more of a role than I know in my own life, and it’s what offers me the most hope for my children. It’s only through my faith in God’s ability to redeem all of these parenting mistakes I make along the way that my children have any hope at all.

Lastly, if my children do decide to go their own way, my prayer is that I will show them that same love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (based in my faith, hope, and trust in the Lord and His ability to complete the good work He began in them) that I have all along been teaching them to have for others. . . Where is the pause button on these innocent little creatures of mine?


-One morning during school when I was particularly sleepy, I accidentally fell asleep in my chair at the table while the kids where doing their reading. I don’t know how long I dozed, but when I woke up, the kids were gone. Before I got up to chase them down, I had a good laugh to myself trying to visualize the quiet, probably mimed out, plan they made to escape while they had the chance.


-Has become obsessed with earning and then showing off his money. The first words out of his mouth when someone comes to the door to visit is, “Hey! You wanna watch me county my money!”
-When asked, he will say his favorite subject is math, though I am certain it is break time.
-44″ or 3’8″ tall
42.2 pounds
-learned to swim and dive in the deep end this summer.
-is an amazing reader like his brothers. All three of my boys have picked it up with ease.
-LIVES to boss Eli around. It’s funny to see his bossy side because in any other context he is mostly go-with-the-flow and seeks drama reduction.
-takes no interest in structured, extra-curricular activities outside of our home quite yet.
-Still has a passion for Cars from the Cars movies.
-Does not like to be without his siblings. When he had to go to a friends house without them (the rest of the kids were being watched by others) he sat on the couch until I got there to pick him up. He wouldn’t play or eat lunch.

Evan: Mom, have you ever known anyone to pick their nose so deeply that they came out with some brain?
Me: No, Son. That is impossible. Your nasal cavities do not end in your brain. A drill would be necessary for that.
Evan: Well, what if someone didn’t know where their brain was and accidentally went into it with a drill?
Me: You mean if someone were picking their nose with a drill and it accidentally went through to their brain?
Evan: Yes.
Me: (Sigh) My love, I think I am going to need to have some adult conversation this weekend.

-Weighs 64.6 pounds.
-52″/ 4′ 4″ tall
-finished his first soccer season with style. I could not have been more proud of him. He went to every game with the best attitude, and even when asked to play for the opposing team so they could have a fair game, he did it happily. I watched other boys pitch fits and disrespect the coaches, but Evan stood out as being an extra great kid. I was so proud of him!
-his favorite subject in school is definitely science and would forego his whole future to never do another Math problem or hand write another sentence again.
-4 days before his 8th birthday asked for the first time if he could take a walk around the neighborhood by himself. We let him go. It was a proud moment for him. I know most kids are doing that younger, but we just wait for stuff like that until they at least ask.
-About 6 times a day I have an argument with Evan that ends with me exclaiming, “For the final time, Son, that doorknob/backyard rock/sparkly sequins/nut/bolt GI Joe hubcap is not real gold/silver/rubies. We are not holding out on you. We are just NOT a precious metal sort of family!”
-After a weeklong unit study on 9/11, I took my kids to see the 3,000 flags Kennesaw Mountain had set up to represent the 3000 people who died that day. After my heartfelt sermon on the profound loss of life the nation saw unfold in front of them on the news that day, Evan says, “Mom, I’m a lucky man.” I was so touched I said, “Ooooooh, Evan! That’s so neat, why do you say that?” Evan: “Well, because I was born in a month with 31 days instead of just 30”. . .Me: “Ooooooh, dear me. . . Let’s go”.


-“Mommy, when I hear that someone is hurt, my brain just can’t help but twirl around and pray for them”.
-About once a month Julia will come to my bedroom door in the middle of the night and ask me to pray that God would help her to stop having “bad thinks”.
-Loves, loves, loves gymnatics. It’s strange because last year she hated ballet despite an awesome teacher who adored her, but this year I could swear her young, indifferent, teacher is addicted to Meth and yet Julia loves it. . . I guess it doesn’t have to make sense. I’m glad she’s happy.
-“Mom, after you told me I could only have one piece of gum, Satan whispered in my heart that I should take two, and I just said, ‘No Satan, I will not obey you!’ And so I didn’t.”
-is going through a hardcore baby talk phase. More than half of what comes out of her mouth is baby talk and we are constantly on her case about it. Once I paid her 10 cents to quit for a day and it seemed to cure her for a couple of weeks, but it’s back hard-core.
-Julia likes school in general. She does not seem to have a favorite subject just yet.
-loves to help in the kitchen.
-finally worked up the courage to learn to ride her bike this fall.
-47″ or 3’11” tall
-44.8 pounds
-Something you don’t necessarily want to hear coming from your daughter in the bathtub down the hall when you are too sick to do much about it, ” ELI! I just baptized you!!”
-“Mom, when I’m old enough, I want to be the one who cooks while you relax.”

-Me: Julia, come up with a sentence that uses the word two. For example “I have TWO friends named John.”
Julia: OK, “I have TWO friends named Joy.”
Me: Why don’t you come up with a sentence that is completely your own, like, “TWO windows let in more light.”
Julia: Ok, “TWO windows let in more light in my room.”
Me: Girly, I need to hear a sentence that it totally and completely your own using the word “TWO”. Not just the same I said, but totally your own.
Julia: OH, OK, OK, OK!! “I have TWO friends who are my windows.”
Me: Let’s move on.


-I think I can officially say he is left handed. There are just so few left handed people in either side of our families that it makes him quite unique.

-carries a phone he made out of LEGO’s with him everywhere you goes so he can “play Angry Birds” anytime he gets the notion.
-While doing a pre-school lesson with his grandmother, he made her wait on him while he took a call on his LEGO phone. At the end of his imaginary conversation he said, “I have a project here that I am working on. I have to put my phone away”. He “hung up” and joined her again for his lesson.
-Does school with his Grandma, but would always rather be the master of his own schedule.
-“Daddy, when I grow up when I’m 5 I can break my nostrils in half.”
-Apparently “accidentally” unloaded an entire, new, bottle of his shampoo into the bathtub and “skated around in it” with all of his clothes on. Of course, the wild scream and laughing must have been an accident as well.
-39 1/2″ tall. 3’3″ tall.
-39.2 pounds
-loves to dress up as batman.
-Began reading this summer at 3 years and 3 months old and does amazingly well at it. I need to take an updated video of it.
-Has mostly outgrown his napping in random places phase, but every once in a while it still happens. There are still a few photos of him zonked out in the craziest places included in this update.
*Don’t forget that all of my photos are now posted to Phanfare, so to view them you have click the link below*p>

Click HERE to view the photos for this update on Phanfare