Faith

God’s Great Story, and Where You Fit In

This article is longer than a blog post is “supposed” to be. But if you’re new to the faith, if you’ve forgotten or were never taught some of these concepts, or if you’re just curious as to how your own story fits in with God’s story, this article is for you.

Human beings crave stories. From very young childhood, we’re entertained by them, cautioned by them, learn from them, and willingly pay good money to be mesmerized by them (i.e., taken out of our own story and immersed in someone else’s) for a few hours—whether in a book, a movie, a play, even a video game or a painting.

I’ve been thinking a lot about story lately in terms of the best-selling book of all time—more than five billion copies sold, and still the best-selling book year after year—the Bible. (The fact that these statistics are still true will hopefully cheer believers living in a post-Christian or nearly post-Christian America.)

The greatest of all stories.

Long before video games, movies, and even books as we know them today, Jesus, knowing the  effect that stories have on us, used parables (short stories that illustrate a spiritual lesson) for teaching purposes throughout his three-year ministry. From their clueless reactions to many of the stories’ lessons and meanings, it might appear that his disciples were not always the sharpest knives in the drawer, being pretty obtuse when it came to understanding what Jesus was actually talking about. But to be fair, they were mostly unaware that they were in the living presence of the Savior of the world, God’s own Son, and who’s to say what our responses would have been in that situation? It’s human to be skeptical, even when witnessing miracles right in front of our eyes. We might view the parables as not terribly difficult to understand, but Christians today have the benefit of two thousand years of commentary and analysis, not to mention a firm knowledge of who Jesus is and what he came to do, so comprehension comes a little easier to the modern listener or reader.

But beyond the parables that Jesus told, the Bible is filled with story after story after story. The stories of creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, the tower of Babel, Abraham and Sarah … and that’s just the first 15 pages of my 1,260-page Bible. The story of Jesus’ own life, death, and resurrection story takes four entire books to tell, over and over. The history of Israel and the early Christians are told in story form (Exodus, Ruth, 1 Samuel, Esther, Acts). The poets and prophets are storytellers (Job, Daniel, Hosea, Jonah). End-times visions are told as story (Revelation). It’s no wonder we teach children about the Bible using books with titles like The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Big Picture Story Bible (my favorite), Baby’s First Bible Stories, and so many more.

What’s the purpose of God’s story?

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Other Topics

“If You’re Vaccinated, Why Do You Still Wear a Mask?”

Over the past seventeen months, my opinion on certain virus-related issues has changed from time to time based on new developments, new information, and new experiences I’ve had. For instance, I originally was vaccine-hesitant but later changed my mind on that and was gratefully vaccinated in April of this year. And very early on in the pandemic, I wondered about mask effectiveness but both scientific and anecdotal evidence led me to fully support the use of masks to greatly limit virus transmission.

Do I love wearing a mask? Well, no—who does? But I will absolutely wear one when asked to, when others would prefer me to, or when I feel more comfortable doing so. It honestly is not a big deal to me to do any of this.

Even now. Even though I’m vaccinated.

A few months ago, the highly contagious Delta variant began ramping up considerably, and we’ve also learned that vaccinated people can still transmit the virus. Now, in August, Delta is no longer just banging on the proverbial door but is in the house, affecting more of my friends and relatives than I could have imagined. That’s more people—real-life people, not statistical people—who are catching COVID, getting very sick, and staying sick for a long time.

All of that brings me to a question that I know some people have wondered about, and one that I’ve asked myself over the past few weeks. I think it’s a fair question:

“If you’re vaccinated, why do you still wear a mask?”

In my particular county, elected officials are arguing, flip-flopping, and even suing each other over whether or not masks should be required, and the recommendations of frontline medical professionals are largely ignored. So it’s a personal choice, for the time being, at least. I’ve thought a lot lately about why I’m wearing a mask again, and here are my reasons, along with a few ideas as to why others may be doing this, as well.

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Homeschooling

Welcome to the Annual Mid-August Homeschool Mom Freak-Out

Every year for many years now, my August experience has been the same.

I start the summer joyfully (as do whichever of my kids are being homeschooled at the time, even the poor older guinea pigs I subjected to minor “summer math and reading” in early years—sorry, kids). I’m full of hope, relaxed expectation, and plans for catching up on all the things I had no time for during the school year. I even have a list of what I intend to accomplish in all of the “free time” I’m going to have.

During June and July, I continue my work as a freelance writer and editor, but with more flexibility than during the rest of the year. I begin my work day at 8:00, 9:00, whenever I want … and end when I feel like ending. Afternoons are spent with appointments, catching up on paperwork, visiting friends, fun family activities, trying new recipes, or writing for this blog. Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and flip my days, doing the fun stuff first and working later. But every day is full, and in a good way.

And then August arrives. Even now, when I’m down to just one high schooler, I start feeling little twitches of anxiety during the last week of July. Then the calendar rolls over and I’m officially facing the Final Weeks of Summer Vacation.

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Homeschooling · Parenting

Homeschool to Public School … and (Sometimes) Back Again

Tips on making the transition when you’re considering public school

We’re an 85.9% homeschool family (I did the math). We started out intending to be a 100% homeschool family, and in my heart I’m a 100% homeschooling mom, but Child #3 and Child #4 required different approaches to their education, so we’re going to end up at 85.9% overall. Kids will throw you a curve ball like that sometimes.

During the time that I was considering other schooling options for my two out-of-the-homeschool-box boys, I searched in vain for real-life experiences, examples, walk-throughs—anything to guide me in uncharted territory or even just encourage me in taking these huge steps into the unknown. I couldn’t find much, so now that I’ve walked this path myself—twice, in two different ways—I decided to write about it in order to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

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Faith · Parenting

Finding Hope When You’ve Made Mistakes with Your Children

Many years ago when I was a young mom with an intense and challenging preschooler, I was getting coffee at Bible study next to an older, well-respected woman in the church. She had heard through the church grapevine that I was having trouble with my son, and  she casually said to me, out of nowhere, “Isn’t it great, Rebekah, that we can get all the parenting help we need right there in the Bible?”

That out-of-the-blue comment really threw me. Even though I was a fairly new Christian, I was pretty sure there was not a lot of direct parenting advice in the Bible that dealt with my specific issues with my young son. I honestly didn’t have a clue what she was even talking about. Feeling awkward, I smiled and nodded, and she went on her way, never mentioning it again.

To be honest, I didn’t take her comment very well. Her well-meaning advice had no follow-through, so it felt a little like I’d been the victim of a hit-and-run. But as the years went by, and I grew in spiritual maturity and Bible knowledge, I found that God did indeed offer parenting hope and help to me in his Word. I just needed to learn how to recognize it.

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Faith

On the Longing to be Seen, Heard, and Known

“We all desire to know and be known.”

“I just want to be heard.”

“I feel seen.”

The desire to be seen, heard, and known is universal. We all want to feel significant, worthy of attention, and validated by others. It’s painful to feel ignored, anonymous, or irrelevant.

Yet we often find ourselves in situations where we feel exactly that:

“No one understands how hard this is.”

“Why am I even doing this?”

“Does anyone even care?”

The need to “be seen” is so great that the multi-billion-dollar industry of social media has built itself around posts, clicks, and likes that provide people with solid, measurable evidence that they have indeed been seen and approved of by others.

We all have this desire to one degree or another—which isn’t surprising, because we were created to know and be known by God. He has made seeing, hearing, and knowing him easier for us in so many ways:

  • through the person of Jesus Christ
  • through his Word
  • through evidence of his saving grace in our lives
  • through the beauty, majesty, and intricacy of his creation

Wanting to be seen, heard, and known isn’t sinful in itself (it’s part of our human nature, given to us by God), but as with everything in life, sin has tainted it in a big way. It turns out that Jesus had some things to say about being seen, and it’s what’s going on in our heart that’s actually important.

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Parenting

Blue Star Mom, Times Two

I’m a blue star mom. This banner on my house means that I have a close family member who is currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. It was on my house from 2014 to 2018, had a break for a couple of years, then went back up again in the summer of 2020.

It’s uncommon to have a son or daughter serving in the military. Only two percent of high schoolers choose to enlist or pursue officer training. Each spring, when the rounds of “So, what’s [your son/daughter] going to do after graduation?” begin among moms, if your answer is Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, whether officer or enlisted, eyes will open wider and jaws may drop.

Marines boot camp photo / Army basic training photo

Back in 2014, when I began telling people that our oldest son was planning to enlist in the Marines directly out of high school, the most common reaction I got from other moms surprised me. The look of concern, the furrowed brow, the leaning in to quietly ask, “And how do you feel about that?”

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Faith

Already Saved … Not Yet Finished

My first grandchild was born last year. What a wonderful day it was when she finally arrived! She is delightful in the way that only babies can be. But even though she’s already here and I love her sweet baby self, I have great anticipation for the future, because truly knowing her, seeing her grow into all she is meant to be, is still yet to come.

She’s already here, and is so precious … but she is not yet who she will become.

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Faith

The “Temptation of Affluence” and the Lord’s Prayer

Give us this day our daily bread.

It’s been a long time since I’ve wondered where my next meal was coming from—about 40 years, actually, since living in an apartment or trailer with a mostly empty refrigerator or no heat. I don’t specifically remember reciting the Lord’s Prayer back then, but if I did, I’m sure I understood the phrase “give us this day our daily bread.” Even as a child, I would have seen the direct correlation between a prayer for daily sustenance and the fact that God somehow provided for my needs each day.

Of all the elements in the Lord’s Prayer, “give us this day our daily bread” seems very straightforward: Please provide for my daily needs, such as food, to survive. It often gets overshadowed by other, seemingly more pertinent or lofty phrases such as “lead us not into temptation” or “forgive us our trespasses” or “Thy will be done.”

But God has a remarkable knack for continuing to teach us new truths even when we think we thoroughly understand something as familiar as the Lord’s Prayer.

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Parenting

Love You Forever … Or Hate It Forever?

Still polarizing after all these years.

I thought the controversy was over. I thought that surely by now, moms were no longer arguing over this book. I thought emotions had cooled, invectives were no longer flung about, and we were at peace with (or at perhaps had just forgotten about) this little children’s book.

But no. The debate rages on.

Love You Forever was written by Robert Munsch and first published in 1986. If you’ve ever seen it, you’re not likely to forget the image of the toddler on the cover, sitting next to an open toilet in the middle of a toddler-made mess, gleefully contemplating what to toss next into the commode. If you’ve read it to children, they’ve likely pointed out the toilet to you each time you’ve read it, while (depending on the child) giggling in embarrassment or snickering in naughty delight.

In short, it’s the story of a mom who sings her baby to sleep with a certain lullaby every night (“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be”), and as that baby grows, she continues to love and sing to her son, even as he becomes a man with his own home and family. At the end of the book, when the mother is old and sick, the son sings the song back to her and then goes home and sings it to his own baby girl.

So from that brief synopsis, you can maybe see why Love You Forever is on its way to 35,000 Amazon ratings, 94% being five-star reviews. In 2001, fifteen years after it was first published, it was in its 63rd printing, and who knows how many times it’s been printed by now, 20 years later.

So people really like it. That is, except for the people who hate it. And I mean, HATE it.

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