Friday, December 27

Our Christmas

When I started this blog over 5 years ago (WOW!), my purpose was simply to provide pictures and stories of the kids and our home life for our extended family to enjoy. Typically, I attempted to include some sort of lesson or devotional thought to accompany our photos. But, the MAIN purpose was to share life with family and whoever else was interested.

Clearly, the blog has changed direction. There's less light-hearted humor and MUCH, more real life lesson sharing. But, this post will be a little closer to original posts as I just share our Christmas for family and whoever else is interested. :)

Last weekend we went to Clinton for the first of our Christmas experiences. On Sunday, we visited Pine Lake for church. It's been a while since we've been able to go back. But, EVERY time we are there, we are astounded that God seems to orchestrate THE perfect message for us to hear. The sermon series was called, Miracle. Oh how I would love to retell that whole message, because it was so good. I won't. But, Chip ended this sermon urging people to pray for a miracle... to realize that, just as the Christmas story is full of miracles, God is still in the business of performing miracles. Then, with much sincerity, he closed by saying, "some of you may be standing by your miracle." Well, I certainly was! This Christmas was FULL of reminders that we are a miracle. All five of us were standing in one row, worshiping together. No doubt, Scotty & I could have been divided, each of us sharing Christmas with our children separately. But... God chose to do a miracle. And, that realization made every moment of Christmas very special.

Christmas Eve was full of activity. Scotty painted our bedroom (which was the end of painting for a little while), the kids stayed busy with various activity, and I prepared for cooking and baking. Late afternoon, we began our pajama birthday party for Jesus' birthday. We enjoyed breakfast for dinner, sang "Happy Birthday" with cupcakes, the kids opened their one, small gift of pjs & games, and we ended the night playing those games and watching a movie. It was a simple but sweet Christmas Eve.

It was a great night. 

Our kids have demonstrated so many changes this year. We've enjoyed watching them grow up and develop. Each one has grown physically, and that growth has been obvious and visible. But, they've grown in many other ways as well. Caleb is REALLY growing up! It's very fun to watch but also hard on this Mama. This Christmas, he was a very protective older brother. His heart is so sensitive, and he HATES to see others sad or hurt. The cutest thing to watch from him this year was his seriousness in making sure Collin still believed in Santa. Apparently, one day Collin touched our elf to see if he would move (because Dad moved him) or if he'd stay put, because he was real and had been touched. Caleb pulled Scotty aside during the day to relate the story. So, the next morning, when the elf was still sitting in the same spot, Collin was quite surprised. And, Caleb was quite proud!

I love that Caleb was not  "too old" to decorate a gingerbread house and other Christmas traditions. I know it's not obvious in the bottom picture, but he's opening a Coke machine. He has always had at least one gift on his list that is just a little bit odd. But, he wanted a Coke machine in his room. He plans to charge 75 cents per can and make a little money. :). What an awesome kid (almost teenager)!

Collin is still a character.... in every way! He is experiencing some "growing pains," and we've all had some difficulty adjusting. But, there are still so many things about Collin that fascinate me. He's just Collin.... unique in every way. Fun! This year, Collin decided that he LOVES electronics. For so many years, he just wasn't interested. Well, he's making up for lost time.

 Collin was absolutely precious this December.... Trying so hard to still "believe." He made several comments about Daddy & me being the present buyers. But, then he'd write notes to send to Santa via our elf. And, Christmas Eve, without anyone knowing, he went in and tooks care of Santa's snacks and wrote out the sweetest note. Earlier, he felt the need to make himself look like a Wiseman during the Christmas story. He makes us laugh with very little effort. How blessed we are to have been the ones chosen to raise this child!

Claire is still J! O! Y! She is the happiest little girl. This year, she has provided much needed smiles as the almost teenager and middle child experiencing growing pains have struggled with some irritability. She is a caretaker! She takes care of her boys, her babies, sometimes her parents, and she is very responsible. The boy/girl differences have REALLY started showing up. She and I spend a LOT of time together, and I am beyond grateful that God gave us a girl after our two sweet boys. We DEFINITELY would have been missing out had we not been able to experience both genders. 

 Claire has talked about the Bitty Baby for SO LONG. She walked around holding her all Christmas Day and treated her like a real baby! She was just as excited about the Hershey Kisses in her stocking as she was the baby & stroller. What a precious, sweet girl! She can absolutely melt a heart.

So, our Christmas was pretty special, a miracle! We enjoyed each other tremendously! Scotty and I are
looking forward to an even more wonderful year in 2014. That's the great thing about our miracle! God just keeps giving and giving. So, as long as we are open to His plans, we KNOW that family life will just continue to get better and better.    

Tuesday, December 24


It's Christmas Eve.... I'm reading, I'm thinking, I may be a little overwhelmed. And, I'm confused!

It sure has been a week! I know it's been crazy in every home as we prepare for Christmas. Having little ones in the house is exciting, but it really amps up the anxiety and preparations for Christmas morning. Expectation runs high, and there's a lot of pressure for parents wanting to make Christmas special.

That's not really what's on my mind this morning, though. My mind is a confused and jumbled mess as I think back over events that have taken place in our world this week. We've experienced a social media disaster. Now, I'm NOT writing about this disaster today.... don't worry..... I'm just saying it's on my mind, while I read, while I study, and while I prepare for a Christmas Eve.

My reading this morning finished up 1 Samuel. But, after that, I went over to Matthew and Luke to read the Christmas story, and I've been struck by a theme. There are a number of them throughout this story. Any one of them could speak to my heart each day of the year. But, this morning.... I'm contemplating the fact that SO MANY during Jesus' time didn't "get it".

There's Joseph, for starters. Matthew's version records Joseph's distrust for his bride to be. He's clearly an honorable man... committed to doing right. However, he's in the process of backing out of God's plan. Why? Because, he doesn't get it! Humanity clouds his understanding, and he's incapable of seeing the big picture plan UNTIL a messenger of God comes to explain it all. The angel (messenger) unwraps God's plan for Joseph, he "wakes up", and does as the Lord commanded. So, the message brought by God's messenger CHANGED Joseph's mind, his heart, his plans.

Then, there's the inn keeper. Luke's story records, "she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." The very next verses tell us that, close by, shepherds in the field heard the news of Christ's birth and decided to "go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened." The inn keeper clearly did not understand the magnitude of what was happening right in front of him. But, the lowly shepherds do. Why? Well, it's that messenger thing again. A heavenly host of angels (which means messenger) appeared and told them the news.They were changed. They HAD to go and see.

Today, I can only be overwhelmed by God's plan to send His Son into our world to save us from our sins, ourselves. I'm overwhelmed; because, on a regular basis, we don't "get it." Our humanity clouds our vision, our understanding, and we are incapable of seeing the big picture. Like children, we regularly lose sight of what is important.... "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

The Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us! Christmas! And, my ONLY response is to behold HIS glory. Because He came to Earth, and ONLY because He came, we have hope.

Because Christ came, my life was saved for eternity and my heart can be changed in the midst of a difficult moment.

Because Christ came, miracles happen.... marriages are restored, lives are transformed, the impossible is possible. 

 His coming changed everything for everyone, but we won't experience the change unless we BEHOLD the ONE who changed! And, just like Joseph and the shepherds, we have the ability to behold AFTER being presented with the message by the Messenger. Christ's birth at Christmas is the beginning of God's plan for salvation.

Here lies my confusion! I understand that God paid a high price for me to have life. I KNOW that life only works when we live within His commands and His ways. I want to stand up for that Truth and encourage everyone to obey God. But, I live in a world that doesn't "get it." I live in a world that says God's Word is outdated. And, if I apply the message of the Christmas story, God's messenger (Spirit) is the only One that can draw those who are blind to His purposes, to seeing belief in Him. I don't have this power! I don't have the ability to make the blind see. 

So, what do I do? Do I just carry on with my own life, my own agenda, because God will send the Messenger to the lost world when He's ready? I don't think I can do that. I think that would make me apathetic in every way. 

Do I wear signs, shout from megaphones, use the Bible as a weapon on every avenue of social media so that the lost world will know where I stand and never be able to say that they didn't hear "the gospel?" I know I can't do that. I truly fear this creates such callousness of heart among those that are blind to the knowledge of God. It becomes harder and harder for them to experience the love that caused God to send Jesus into the world. It's God's kindness that draws us to repentance. Scary signs, megaphones and weapons don't really depict kindness. 

BEHOLD! This is what I believe we do. We behold the glory of the ONE AND ONLY! In our daily lives, in our relationships, in our problems, in our own sin..... we stand in awe of a FATHER who loved us so much that He sent HIS only son to save us from our sin. And, let me be clear.... ALL sin is looking at God's glorious plan for our lives, shaking our fist and saying, "I can do better." This attitude leads to bitterness, promiscuity, unforgiveness, homosexuality, lying, adultery, unkindness..... and these are all the effects of our distrust. I can't look at any one of these sins as greater than another. Distrust has many faces, but it's the same sin. 

It's Christmas Eve! My mind is jumbled, and I'm a little bit sad that our world is missing Christ this Christmas. I'm not angry at a network or a left winged political group. I'm not shocked at all by their response. I'm a little disappointed in myself and in my family of believers. We are so easily distracted. We so easily lose focus. Beholding Christ changes lives! First, the life of the beholder. Then, when our lives, believers, are completely transformed by Christ, others notice. Calloused hearts begin to soften. And, the Messenger is free to do the job that only HE can do. 

Behold the Savior today! Let your mind and heart REALLY focus on what He did for you. Make it personal, because it is.

"Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2: 10-11

Personal transformation will always spread outward into all relationships. When we are truly changed, others notice.

Merry Christmas! I hope you & your family enjoy beholding our Savior's birth.

Tuesday, December 17

Homeschooling Update, An Elf & A Calm, Christmas Holiday

The Rogers have officially completed one semester of homeschooling. We began our year pretty early... August 4th. I did this, because I had NO idea how long it would take to get through our lessons. I also did not know if TOT would create school distractions and get us off schedule. And, finally, I knew that this week would be crazy. So, I wanted our school to be finished.

Last year, I nearly had a nervous break down (literally!) during this week. I like to do special "happies" for my TOT directors allowing TOT to be part of their schools, so that takes up time. On top of that, each child had Christmas festivities at the school every day, we were preparing Christmas gifts for each of their teachers, I needed to be at the school for several events, and their we multiple parties as the week came to a close. I COULD NOT keep up! I quickly became Scrooge! It was all too, too much!

Seriously, there's so much frustration this time of year over what is a distraction of Christmas. Every year, it seems we (I'm definitely including me here) choose one, specific Christmas "extra" and rebel against it! This year, it's obviously the Elf on the Shelf. I agree that it can get out of hand. As I said on Facebook, we DO have elves. But, we've never put much thought into them. Scotty moves them to a new location each night. A few of our spots are "favorite" for the elves, because they land their repeatedly during the Christmas season. I've been so intrigued, though, as people rebel openly on Facebook and other social media outlets about the unnecessary time waste of the elf, but these people never question the other crazy things we do for our children during Christmas. School events, gifts for teachers, parties, etc. I'd venture to guess monopolize so much more time that moving a crazy elf. But, those things are just accepted as things we HAVE to do.

Well... I just couldn't do it one more year. This particular week last year WIPED ME OUT, and it took EVERY BIT OF CHRISTMAS BREAK to get over it. This year, I can breathe. I spent all day yesterday getting TOT gifts together for the week and ready for teachers while my children enjoyed their first day of Christmas break. And, after I teach my last class of TOT on Thursday, I'll start my break and get ready for another semester. As this one comes to an end, though, I'm thanking God for freedom. That will forever be the word that summarizes my experience this first half of our homeschooling experience. I've been extremely convicted for 5 months now about all of the things that I did for so many years, because "it's just what you do". I've realized that I didn't HAVE to do those things. But, in choosing to, I gave up my freedom to make decisions that are necessary for MY children and MY family.

There have been other lessons to be learned that haven't been as fun to learn. For instance, a messy house exposes every, single one of my flaws. And, when you homeschool children, the house is never completely clean. When I would take the children to school, I could leave it nice & tidy. It would stay that way at least until they got home. Now that they are home, we clean up after breakfast, but everything gets yucky again as we prepare for lunch. Then, we clean up AGAIN! But, once school is done, they begin to play (which is good) and the house is messy again. This may seem small. However, a messy house exposes my flaws. So, this one little area has greatly increased my prayer life as I strive to get a grip so that my children aren't permanently scarred over cups left on a counter top.

Another lesson... a schedule is GOOD; but, sometimes, flexibility is BETTER! Ahhhhh...... The Lord has stretched me here. I love a schedule! I love boundaries, and I just feel much more secure when a good, workable schedule is in place. To some degree, that is a strength of mine. Chaos is NEVER good. A basic schedule with homeschooling is necessary.... The kids have to get up, shower, get completely dressed, eat breakfast, etc. every morning. We start school close to the same time each day. But, beyond that, circumstances arise that can't be planned for, and that's O.K.! God has shown me OVER & OVER that I am consistently trying to move past and miss the lesson of the moment, because I can't adapt the schedule. This one lesson has been the catalyst for God showing me I must LET GO of my agenda. Do I NOT plan? Absolutely not! But, I'm more aware of the blessings all around that I could never plan for. They are gifts (not burdens), and I am learning to expect the unexpected and trust The Lord to guide me through it.

There's not a whole lot of "meat" to this post. However, I promised I'd update on all of homeschooling adventures. And, I haven't done that very well. The semester has brought about some tough moments and tough days. But, overall, it's been way more positive, much easier and more freeing that I could have ever imagined. Again, I say, I don't know what the long term future will hold for us. But, for now, I'm just grateful that The Lord called me to step out and then provided confirmation after confirmation that we'd made the right choice.

I don't know where you are this week and what is going on. If you're in the rat race with more events and more gifts to give and more parties to attend than you know what to do with, I know how you feel. I'll pray that you can breathe..... And, I'm not saying yank your kids out of school and home school :). But, maybe prayerfully consider what doesn't HAVE to be done and what doesn't provide a meaningful Christmas experience. I'm doing the same. I'm asking the Lord to show me what I can cut out of the schedule, so that I can breathe and focus on Him. For me, it was and is much, much more than an elf!

Monday, December 9

An Update from Scotty...

I've spoken openly about my marriage in this blog. I've shared the steps Scotty and I have taken together to rebuild our marriage and heal our family. However, I'm not sure how much of HIS journey I've shared from my blog.

I've been very proud of the way he's handling recovery. More and more, I'm confronted with the truth that MOST people (male & female) prefer to belittle their mistakes. Even when mistakes are HUGE and have WIDE RANGE effects, it seems that most individuals want to throw out a quick apology and move past it as quickly as possible. It's sad, really, because that's not really MOVING past at all.

Anyway, over a year and a half ago, Scotty wrote a letter to the MFT Board. Because his marriage failures originated in ethical failures in his practice, he did not want to move on and pursue counseling as a profession without being COMPLETELY open with this Board about those failures. I know that was hard for him to do. But, from his perspective, he'd been living life in secrecy for a lot of years. He was ready for secrecy and shame to be over. He did NOT want to pursue counseling and spend the rest of his days worrying if THAT would be the day that the Board found out and confronted him. I applaud the personal responsibility that he took in that area. And, what a risk! These men and women could VERY well have said that he could NEVER practice with a license again. Honestly, they would have had every justified reason to make this decision.

They did not! We are so grateful. They've given consequences. These consequences will be a challenge to work through. But, Scotty believe (and I agree) that they will only serve to CONTINUE the healing work God has begun in him. I wanted to post his blog entry from the weekend here, because he gives his own thoughts on this process. On Friday, he made a personal appearance before the Board... it was a big deal both outwardly and inwardly. But, it's done! I thank you for your prayers along our journey. We appreciate you!

Saturday, December 7

Be The Change!

Have you noticed that our society does not advocate personal responsibility? Ugh..... it's SO frustrating. As a whole, we are a people that refuses to accept responsibility, denies fault, and insists that we could do better IF people acted as they were supposed to or IF circumstances were different.

I KNOW you know what I'm talking about. Relationally, more times than not, we "take off" when times get tough. We're sure we are justified in our choice, because our significant other (spouse, friend, child, co worker, etc.) isn't holding up their end of the deal. In business, how easy is it to do LESS than we're asked to do, because no one else is doing their part either. And, politically, as a nation, we have willingly handed over a multitude of our rights by making our personal responsibilities the government's responsibilities. So, even though our government hasn't proven to do many things well, we continue to give it more and more responsibility, because requiring individuals to accept some responsibility is considered negligent, uncaring, and downright mean.

Here's what is on my mind today.... it seems that it has become extremely uncomfortable to look inwardly and see what I should be doing differently and way too comfortable to look outwardly and name what everyone else should be doing differently. I see that this has created a lot of finger pointing and "preaching". That would be fine and good..... even wonderful, IF anyone was in the business of taking personal responsibility or interested in looking inward for changes to be made. We are not! So, all of our attempts to change people (posting rants on Facebook, taking scripture out of context to prove our own point, and giggling behind a jab) have only created more dissension among our community of believers. And, I won't even speak of what it's done between us and the world where we're called to minister.

So, here's what I'm proposing.... let's REclaim personal responsibility. What if, when faced with a situation we wish was somehow different, we determined to BE the change that makes it different?

I know, I know.... it's crazy. It's absurd! It's soooo last century!!! Why in the world would we consider changing ourselves when we can just run away from the situation and be perfectly justified to do so. Or, why make any changes in me when I can get online, find a number of people that believe the way I believe, and use social media to blast whoever believes differently.

BUT.... let's just play with this idea for a moment. I'm so tired of living in a world of UNhappiness and discontentment. Everywhere I look, I'm faced with downcast faces, lack of joy, and weariness with life. Every! Where!! I am confronted with so many people (believers) that are unhappy with their life. It may not be spoken. But, the countenance, the complaints and the disgust are clear indicators. I want to see JOY. I want to see HAPPY. I want to see LIFE. So, what if I become those things? What if I quit being tired and start being the change.... I can BE joy! Then, possibly, my joy will spread in MY house, to MY circle, and then out to their circles.....

There are certain areas of my life that I'd like to see improvement. I think we probably all have those areas... whether it's in relationship, in business, in finances, etc., I'll bet everyone could name one area we'd like to see an improvement. I feel like my religious background has taught me to accept what is, pray, and if God doesn't change it.... just be satisfied. But, what if my dissatisfaction in that area IS the Lord saying, "I've got something better, but you're going to have to get up and cooperate." I'm not saying this is the Gospel. I'm just asking, "what if?" What if I'm using prayer as an excuse to sit still and wait for SOMEONE ELSE to change when the Lord is clearly telling ME to BE THE CHANGE!

Now, believing family, this is heavy on my heart. Our world is in trouble! Our world is missing the TRUTH of the Gospel. Our world is dying without hope of salvation. We desperately need a change! However, I honestly feel that most of our efforts for change are backfiring and causing this dying world to harden their hearts even more to the TRUTH that we know. Every time I turn on the computer, I see an update or a blog or an article posted to scream a point of view. Obviously, I'm not against speaking our minds. Here I am speaking mine. What I'm saying is this.... changes that we want to see made in our world aren't going to be made with a wholesale BLAST of opinionated theology over the internet. They are going to be made in LIFE... living a Holy Spirit directed life individually, then guiding those closest to us to do the same. That will create a ripple effect that spreads. It may not spread as fast as we think it would if I just loaded a quick, one line post against a given lifestyle or activity. But, it's not working! Why not DO the things that work and impact lives in a way that "sticks"? Do we want a change.... Then, let's BE the change!

Here's an example of ONE things that is burdening me right now. It's Christmas! "The most wonderful time of the year." And, it's true, I'm seeing and hearing the Gospel spread well in many cases. But, I'm also seeing that SOMEHOW we've managed to allow ALL SORTS OF THINGS to distract us and the world from what we are celebrating during this season. And, I'll bet that my perspective is different from what you're expecting....

WHY are we arguing over "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays"? Distraction! It's CHRISTMAS. I'm celebrating the incarnation of my SAVIOR.... the fact that God so LOVED the world that He sent Jesus! So, I want the word CHRISTmas to be used A LOT during this time of year. So, I will use it! I will BE the change.

WHY are we in division over Santa or no Santa? Goodness... I know I'm causing such anger among even my sweet, believing friends. I know this is HUGE to so many of you. And, if the Spirit has convicted you in this way, I say follow that lead. But, WHY are we arguing about it? We do Santa at our house. We don't celebrate Santa. We don't worship Santa. And, when my oldest figured out that there was no Santa, there was disappointment. But, not a whole lot changed about how we celebrate this time of year.... the majority of our Christmas discussions aren't much different. We all do things differently. I will not pretend that I know what is 'right'. But, I know this.... we will never figure it out through arguments. We will never see a change in our world towards a Christ focus during December in dissension. So, I'm gently suggesting that if you feel we've lost the right focus during Christmas, BE the change. Focus on the main thing.... Jesus. Celebrate HIM in a big way in all of YOUR festivities. Honor HIS name by making Christ the center of ALL that you do (not JUST in December by the way) and watch how that catches on. We CAN be the change! I WANT to be the change!

I continue to be drawn in to the words of Christ to His disciples. ....

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

I am choosing to believe that, as believers, we have "good" motives behind all that we do. It's SO hard to know what is right and what is wrong when dealing and operating in this world we live in until Christ calls us home. Yes... we need to stand up for our beliefs. But, once we are aware of what God, through His Word and the Spirit, says is a change that needs to be made, I believe our ONLY course of actions is to BE THAT CHANGE! In my own life, I'm much more likely to be persuaded to change something in me when I SEE it working in someone else. So... what would YOU like to see this Christmas?

Peace in our world? BE peace.

Christ, high and lifted up? BE the lifter of His great name.

Joy & Happiness? BE happy NO MATTER the circumstance.

I know it sounds a lot easier than it really is. Personal responsibility is hard. But, at no point in life am I responsible for what someone else says or does. I'm ALWAYS responsible for the way that I respond. I believe we can CHANGE OUR WORLD! But, I don't believe we can do it in one, big swoop, by mass social media. If it's going to happen, I believe it will happen in one relationship at a time, one person at a time... and the first on my list is ME.


Here's my disclaimer.... I KNOW that we are also called to confront. It's uncomfortable. But, in our relationships (those who are close to us in life, NOT just a FB friend), my driving force for change in that person has to be LOVE. Jesus knew His time here was short. I'm sure He chose His words for disciples carefully. And, He said our LOVE would be THE thing that showed others we are Christ followers (true disciples). That tells me that when I LACK love in any of my actions, I'm demonstrating that true discipleship is not my focus. It's a fine line. And, that's the reason that I need to be consumed with Christ, ferociously focused on His will for MY life. That takes A LOT of energy and doesn't leave much time for finger pointing outside of my very close circle of relationships.... I'm forced to leave the rest to pastors (those called to lovingly point out and shepherd towards the TRUTH) and the Holy Spirit.