I Hate Waiting

(I know, the title is ironic, given I made you wait so long between posts. I’m sorry for the wait.)

God has me in a holding pattern. My youngest is off for the summer to Cambodia and then home only for a couple of weeks and then off to college. The oldest left years ago (even though he’s only 18). Both boys will be studying together at New Tribes Bible Institute in Wisconsin starting in August (One of them as a 2nd year, the other as a 1st…I’m so proud).

We started at our new church today. It was kind of exhilarating to try something new. I feel a fresh perspective on being with God. The church is only 150 big (or so) and I’m excited to be part of something so intimate.  I was brave and claimed my usual happy spot in the front row (so I can focus).  I feel peace about this change.

I tell you these things, because my newest adventure with God is waiting…I hate waiting. The hubby and I LOVE to serve in our church. We love to serve in our home. Now we have an empty home and a new church. Every time I ask God about it, he asks me to just wait. This is definitely a new experience for me. Patience? It’s really not my strength. I keep coming up with ideas and things we could be doing (“my” ideas, not God’s…not a good way to go).

God keeps reminding me I’ve only been at the new church a day. It’s only just this month that we became empty-nesters. He wants us to rest in Him and wait on his plans.  Maybe there are things we need to mourn (like not being full time parents anymore).  Maybe there are things we need to be observing and learning (like how our new church functions).  I honestly don’t know right now.

So here I am taking a BIG deep breath and waiting…and waiting…and waiting. In this time I plan to pray a lot and not come up with ideas. Pray for me to learn big things from this experience and that I would grow in obedience to God.  (Now I’d like you all to imagine me just “zipping it” to listen to God…This will be exciting).

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*Note – Video taping has started. A Steph Vlog is coming and it’s going to be awesome (I hope). Wait for it!

Yet Another Letter From Inside My Brain

Twice I have written letters from inside my brain. You can read those letters here… “Girl Teen in my brain” and “Spaz in my brain“.  Today  I have a new letter…

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Dear Mrs. Iles,

I know this is going to surprise you; I am a junior high boy living in your brain.  “What?” you must be asking.  “What does that mean?”

You raised two boys and spent a lot of time with them during the homeschool years.  As you tried to relate to them, I grew to be a part of who you are.  I am the part of you that thinks fart jokes are funny and really enjoy fire.  remember that time at Starbucks a guy did a lean and fart and you texted your son to tell him…that was my work.

It’s true.  You can pretend to be a grown up if you want, but really I exist and I love things most middle aged women don’t.  The best part is that I like to laugh at inappropriate times.  I know you hate this, but it just makes me laugh more knowing you are uncomfortable when I show up.

I’m the one you argue with when you see someone in public that is different or dressed strangely; I want to judge and make loud comments.  I know you usually win these battles and I’m kept silent, but you know I’m still there and this is a struggle for you.

These are the areas I often win.  I’m the one that snorts at You Tube Videos that your sons send you.  I help you find humor in the things they find funny (like coconuts in a book about Captain Cook and Charlie Bates in Oliver Twist – that was for the boys).  I’m the one that gets you hooked on video games occasionally; there was that year we played World of Warcraft together (so glorious) and got you the high score in the family on SSX Tricky.  I am the one that loves Superhero movies, Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings (you have a dog named Bilbo, you’re welcome).

We will continue to work together.  I know we battle, but it’s almost always fun.  See you on the roller-coaster of life.

The Teen Boy in Your Brain

a.k.a. Etienne (French for Steve and your grandfather’s name)

My Own Elderly Hunger Games

My friend pointed out to me that I have offered to all my parents (my mom, my estranged dad and his wife, my mother in law) that when they get old, they can stay with me if they like. She wanted to know what I would do if they ALL took me up on it. This made me think of some funny scenarios.

I would basically have a Elderly Hunger Games on my hands. I will be a responsible daughter and take care of family, but it’s not my problem if they don’t get along. They may attack each other for dominance in the space or just a bit of peace and quiet.  I’d fill a cornucopia with walkers and canes so they could battle it out.

I also pictured Elderly Brady Bunch. I’d get some bunk beds in there and a little night light. They could stay up late talking about their aches and pains. We could get a live in nurse that would be like our Alice.  I’d pay to watch that TV.

I could have the Elderly Scooby Gang. I’d have them take care of my dog and give them little mysteries to solve every morning to keep them busy. I could hire a dude to drive them all around in a van. Maybe they could find their missing social security (or marbles).

What shows do you imagine happening with this motley crew?

Going to a New Church

Well, some of you read a previous blog where I wrote about a transition our church went through and how I handled choosing what church to belong to. The hubs and I are finding ourselves in a new transition time.

A big part of our previous decision to stay at the church we were at, was our son was so plugged in at the High School Group. The youth ministry is just so impressive there and his youth pastor, one of the best. The hubs and I also agree the importance of keeping the family together at the same church until the boys become adults…that time has come. Our youngest is leaving in a few months to go off on his next big adventure (college in Wisconsin) which leaves the hubs and I empty-nesters.

Another reason we stayed is we felt we owed the leadership of our church to give the merging churches a healthy effort. We trusted the decision our elders made (and still do). I can honestly say the new church is thriving. The sermons are great and I’ve never loved the music more (I’m always dancing and singing along now). But, and this is about my walk and who I am, it isn’t the right fit for me right now.

What I have come to realize over the past few months is that I am not really a mega-church/multi-campus person. It’s the same reason I don’t like going to Disney (even with friends); the large size and milling crowds overwhelm me and I crave intimacy.  I often feel lonely.  I know this sounds strange coming from this uber-extrovert, but it’s how I function. Like Disney, the mega-church is loved by many and for good reasons. However, at this point in my life, I just crave intimacy more on Sunday morning than anything else.

I have prayed LONG and hard about God releasing me to go seeking in other churches. I have prayed this in the past, always getting a “NO”, but now I feel a freedom to go.

I will miss Westgate Southhills and especially all the amazing people we know and love there.  This was not an easy decision and there are many layers to it all.  A lot of discussion and prayer went into this and it was not a decision made lightly.  If you ask, I will just tell you I needed something smaller and more intimate.  I know that sounds simplified, it might be, but anything else is gossip and my own issues being worked out.

My priority right now is to finish strong at Westgate.  I have a couple months left committed to my youth group (and to my son who leaves in June).  I want to continue to give 100% and leave on a good note.  I hope I will always be welcome on the Southhills campus and be remembered fondly.  I pray they thrive even more and continue to positively impact their neighborhood.

If you are a praying sort, pray for the hubs and I and our new adventure.

The Microscope I Live Under

I was talking with a good friend recently and she pointed out that I often talk about how I want to be known for being different than others at how I do things. For example, when I talk about my homeschool years I often say, “But we weren’t your typical homeschooling family.”

The thing is, some aspects of my life are choices that often end up under the microscope. What is even odder, is that I like to point out how we did it differently, but really we aren’t that different, we just might be different than the stereotype.

Homeschoolers as a group are often put under a microscope. People see it as different and they think it’s a statement of some kind on the school system. There is sometimes a belief the homeschoolers think they are better than people who go to school.  For us it was just a choice we made for our family.  It was about my son who acted up in preschool and I needed to be his guide a bit longer (and then I fell in love with homeschooling – so we did it until college).

As a homeschooler we were actually very typical. We did all our classes at home (except music and sports). We sometimes took days off to go to the beach. We read a lot and my kids had a lot of free time to explore things they loved to do on their own (like drums – 2-3 hours a day). The boys graduated at 15, which is also not unusual in the homeschool world. They dress normally (mostly), they have friends, they adjusted beautifully to college. That’s it.  Most of the negative stereotypes are a myth or based on “that one family”.  We actually are the typical homeschooling family.

Christians are often put under the microscope as well. People see us as judgmental and all about moral codes, and that we care most about how everyone around us is behaving. We are seen as people who think they are better than everyone else.

Oddly enough, most of the Christians I know humbly admit to their flawed lives.  I’m certainly no peach 100% of the time.  They try to love everyone based on the rule to love your neighbor as yourself.  The fellow Christians I know work with teens (even the troubled ones), the homeless (even the ones doing drugs), serve in prisons bringing music and compassion…Again most of the negative stereotypes you run into are those handful of people that are just too extreme, and most of the Christians I know would say those people aren’t getting it.  I like to think I’m redefining Christianity for more positive stereotypes, but the truth is, I’m not alone.  Most of the Christians I know are amazing, serving, humble people.

So, yes, I like to think I’m doing it differently.  I like to think I have a cool and social homeschool family and that when people hear I’m a Christian they will understand that is why I love them so much.  But really, I’m just like a lot of my friends who made the same choices in their lives to teach their kids at home and love Jesus.

Good News/Bad News

OK, the bad news first. I had planned on starting a Video-blog project, but my videographer and I have busy lives and can’t seem to match up. It’s been 3 months and it’s obviously a no-go. Sorry. Maybe I’ll try again at another time.

The good news is I’m now committing to get back on track with my once a week posts. I will see you this mid-week.