Life’s a Breeze…or Is It A Gust of Wind?

Repost from Jan 24, 2017

My last post was June of last year. Seven months ago. I feel like I’ve been to the moon and back.

You ever felt like you were caught up in a Kitchen Aid mixer set to medium high? Once turned off, life is a new mix. Am I truly back to blogging? I’m not sure, honestly. Blogging, editing, marketing take up a lot of time and head space that I find that I need to devote to my six children, ages 25, 22, 20, 17, 7 and 5.

What will 2017 be like for you? I don’t think you have any idea.

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Thanksgiving 2016

Can you guess how long it took all of us to get outside and how many shots my best friend had to take to get this one? My daughter Maria (fourth from left) announced after an Thanksgiving early dinner that we had a 20 minute window before the sun was in the wrong place. “Be outside in 15 minutes and look nice!” was her commandment. For outdoor photographers, it’s all about the lighting, I suppose.

You see that tall guy on the end? He’s our basketball player. Douglas is 6’6″. In fact, that’s one exciting reason why I haven’t blogged in over six months. He has an opportunity to be recruited to play in college. Basketball season is now year round for me and involves a lot of driving. We enrolled him in The Regents School of Charlottesville, where he had played basketball the previous season as a home schooled student. I began driving him down to “The Dell” at the University of Virginia to work out with Coach Geoff Reed, a former private school coach and other potential high school recruits. I packed up the two youngest boys and drove Douglas up to Pennsylvania to attend a HoopGroup Academic Elite Camp. It was an introduction to the new world of elite basketball.

Not only am I a chauffeur, but I’m now a videographer and video editor for basketball games! Check out this highlight film that I made of his December 2016 games. 😊

I never wonder if the time, money and sacrifice is worth helping someone pursue their dreams. As African-American poet Langston Hughes said, dreams are a “blue cloud cloth” that one must keep from the “too rough fingers of the world”. Do you have a kid with talent and the drive and desire to develop it? Help them. Do you have your own dreams on the shelf. Take them down. Sure, like me, you may have to put them back on the shelf sometimes, but if you live your life in the wind and trust that God has your best interests in his mind, then He’ll blow them off that shelf when it’s time.

I still home school my youngest boys and wow, do they have energy! For those of you raising kids under ten. Yeah, I know. It’s real. It’s realllllly tiring. It’s mental. It’s emotional. Some nights you sleep well; some you don’t. I’m feelin’ you.

But I’m not trading my days with those boys for anything else right now.

By the way, here’s a shout out to all of you young people learning about “adulting”, which is the choice phrase of my young millennials. I have a draft of a post called “What Is Adulthood?” Maybe I’ll get around to editing it, but I will say that watching the adult lives of my oldest three children is an education for me. When am I needed? When am I crowding their space? (#2 and #3 live with us right now) Should I share with them some suggestions without being asked? As a parent, am I still meeting their love language?

I’m grateful that my three oldest are still around so much. My oldest daughter, Christina, lives thirty minutes  away but spends many weekends here at home. God has given me spontaneous conversations with them that have shown me the the treasure-laden depths of their souls and the amazing dreams they dream. What can I do? Be their #1 cheerleader…well my husband and I share the #1 spot, Lol.

One last word before I begin my day as a home educator. Doug and I have been married for twenty-six years. We’ve had our highs and lows. My advice for all of you who are married and raising kids is: Be transparent. Be emotionally honest about your triumphs and your failures. Extend mercy and grace to your spouse, because one day you may need it yourself. Be an active listener. Take time to hang out and DON’T talk about the kids! Demand nothing and pray about everything.

Try to hold your future plans or agenda loosely. Life has so many shifts. If you grip too hard, you may fall when they fall through. That’s how I live my life these days cause’ I really don’t know where life’s wind is blowing me. It’s certainly not a breeze. But it’s a blessing.

Matthew 7:24-26  “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:

John 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Visit our other blog: My Father’s Crown
New Post: Value of Believing Pt. 3 by Doug Webb

Ages and Stages Pt 2

Who Holds the Trump Card: God or Me? (repost from May 26, 2014)

agesstagesadMy 15 year old is a talented drummer, and loves to play basketball. It has been a rule that each child must play any instrument as well as two years of piano/basic theory which I can teach them myself. As a result, this son has played the drums for almost 7 years. He has taken to beat making, composing via midi, and sound engineering in the past year. Lessons in music theory have begun, however, I sense the Lord telling me to halt drum lessons for a year.

“Say what?!”

This is a perfect example of trusting God and not trumping my wants, rules, and traditions over God’s plans for my children. As far as the drum lessons, I have wondered: Why God? But it really doesn’t matter. For me this is Proverbs 3 to a “T“.
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart; lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:4-5)

Every child is different, and as parents we learn not to “lock-in” what we decide is God’s route for them. I will graduate my third child, Maria, this month from our home school “academy”. At seventeen, she is a gifted musician and photographer with an entrepreneurial spirit. Although she took her college boards, I realized that she wanted to experience the real world instead of a college bubble immediately after high school. She will intern for a year at a local media group, work on the side, and begin her photography business: MNW Photography. I’m so proud of her.

I do know that there is a time in our children’s lives where they have to begin to “own” their future, their behavior, their desires, their faith, their education, and their talents and skills. For my children it has been sometime in their mid-teens…for some earlier, for some later. Perhaps this is that time for him when it comes to his love for music. I cannot “make” him practice forever. Maybe drum lessons was a stepstool to his passion for music composition/recording. There I go wondering again. It really doesn’t matter. I know the Voice of my Shepherd and the voice of the stranger that I will not follow. The Holy Spirit leads me into all truth. I put my faith that I am hearing God on this issue. No drum lessons next year. Okay. Family in art

I’ve always told my kids that although they have grown up with the Bible and God as a part of every day conversation, resulting in salvation (Romans 10:9) at a young age, that the time would come when they have to “own” their faith.

Our maturity as parents mirrors the quality of our own walk of faith in God. Do we really trust God? We should. He will keep them. After all He is the One who helps us learn how to train, teach, shepherd and steer them in the first place.

Every child goes through a “wayward” faze. For some, it’s complacency with school while others deal with issues from immorality to disrespect. One of the most difficult lessons we go through as parents is walking the tightrope of protecting our kids with biblical boundaries and rules, while also allowing them to make bad choices in order to understand and accept godly consequences.  A person cannot truly live if they do not have freedom. We cannot cage our children forever. At the same time, we must have a biblical understanding of permissiveness versus godly boundaries. The ages and stages change and shift in this regard, hopefully through our own wise discernment and not the trends and philosophies of contemporary culture. We must lean on God alone to steer us in this journey.

As I write this draft, I am also making dinner. I just reminded my four year old to go potty and I’m listening to my fifteen year old go from practicing his inversions for 8 minutes to playing around with the various sounds on my electric keyboard. Years ago, this level of multi-tasking would have made my fuse short. I would have harshly reminded my son that he was supposed to be practicing his music theory. I would have been stern and critical. However, I’ve grown up a bit. Even now I’m calm, as I fix this sentence because my 2 year old just grabbed the mouse while I was typing. Oh my.

Have you ever feel like telling your kids, “Gimme a break!”

I think our kids feel the same way.

2013 again 011So, rather than nagging, I’m letting my fifteen year old “play around” on the keyboard for fun, instead of practice his intervals and arpeggios. He’s done a lot of history and literature today. It was too hot at lunchtime to go outside to play basketball. He needs a break._MG_0612

This moment of “play” during school hours is a good thing. I know it is stimulating his creativity, which is necessary for any  talented person.  So I am glad that I’m older and wiser. God’s loving-kindness has matured me as a parent. I’m calm.

This is my life as a parent. And it is good.

So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”  But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. (Luke 2: 48-50)

Lord, help us to understand that sometimes our children will have a better idea of what You are calling them to do, than we do. Help us yield completely to Your route for their lives, never anxious, but understanding that You, their Heavenly Parent, ordained their lives for Your pleasure, Your purpose and Your glory.

Part 3: Potty or Parent Training

 

 

Ages and Stages Pt 1

As I transition out of my old blog site I will be re-posting old posts for new readers!’ This is the first post from the blog series: Ages and Stages.

May 17, 2014

Ages and Stages
The process of learning how to love well is one of the most worthwhile missions we can undertake.

Have you ever been so exhausted that you stood at the gas pump and stared at the instructions—as if you’d never put gas in your vehicle before?  I’m raising my hand.

Have you ever had to juggle working, husband and/or children time, domestic duties, and personal time and dropped not one, but all of them? I’m raising my hand.

Have you ever been in a season as a stay at home mom where your husband worked another job or long hours? Inevitably, you would get so tired that you entertained the thought of putting the kids in bed an hour and a half early? My hand is still raised.

What about this? Do you have a teenager who will be able to get their permit within the year, or an adult child who is faithfully praying for their future spouse? I’m raising my hand.

How many times have you been asked: “What do you do for a living?” If you are a parent,  your initial unspoken answer may be, “What do I do to stay alive?!”

I LOVE my eight children (two are in heaven due to miscarriages). I know that they love me back. If someone or something would come against them….ugh, I may end up in jail. Love protects and will sacrifice life itself to do so.

But loving isn’t easy. In both marriage and parenthood we learn that love is not just a noun, it’s a verb. And a tough one to live out at times.  But the process of learning how to love well is one of the most worthwhile missions that we can undertake.

My children are 22, 20, 17, 15, 4 and 2. We have been in a constant state of transition since my firstborn graduated from our home school and began community college four years ago.

Tomorrow, I will experience a sense of satisfaction that will be new and extremely encouraging. My firstborn will graduate from the University of Virginia. It’s a neat feeling that I’m sure every caregiver feels when they have worked hard to put a child in the best possible position for them to achieve their God-given dreams.

Sometimes I feel like I grow up more than my kids. I probably do. The birth of children reminds us how grateful we are but the stages that each child experiences, reminds us how clueless we really are.

The stages our kids go through teach the great value of takiI didn't do itng a deep breath and counting to ten. They teach us to laugh or at least try to smirk and not grimace when right after a cup of water spills on the table, a cup of juice falls on the floor. Maybe that three year old is just not ready for a no lid cup yet. Oh well.

As much as my children mature, I do too. At 44 years old, I’m a much better person now because these six extremely wonderful treasures have shown me my inadequate humanity and convinced me that daily I need to draw from the reality of God’s unconditional, unceasing, enduring, and tangible love.

12006621_964600196931027_7113312535531569814_oI hope that you enjoy this multi-part blog post: “Ages and Stages”. Even now, I chuckle as my four and two year old watch their early morning “Little Einsteins” show and my oldest gets dressed to go to the Valedictory Exercises at UVa with her dad.  I never would have planned for a 20 year gap between kids. But my God knew exactly what He was doing. He was saying, “Tina, study Me and how I have parented you. Then you will know how to parent generations of kids.”

“Okay, Daddy. I will.”

Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Matthew 5:41

Today, I pray that you will take God’s hand and arise out of whatever situation is stealing the abundant life that He desires for you. Our Father in heaven knows what you need and He will provide. 

The Shoes I Couldn’t Fill

Repost from  – Tuesday, March 22, 2016

IMG_4975The exhilaration of home educating my kids had dissipated. My husband and I were doing full-time ministry on a part-time schedule. The bottom level of our townhouse was being renovated to add a needed bedroom and the 911 attack was fresh in my mind. My outlook on life was grey.

As far as homeschooling, my kids weren’t the problem and teaching wasn’t the issue. My mentality was my problem. The noose of perfectionism was stealing my vitality.

When had I adopted the picture of the multi-tasking, never sleeping, Betty Crocker housewife? I loved everything that I did. Music, ministry, teaching and even learning how to frame walls tapped into my childhood fantasy of being a carpenter. But doing anything is hard when you are trying to live up to a self-imposed image.

My merciless inner overlord wanted to cry out, “I am woman, hear me roar!” Instead, most days all I could muster was a feeble yelp.

Perfectionism withdrawal took a few years. Self-condemnation had to be rooted out as did pride and concern for the opinions of others. I learned that my school day could be flexible. The kids didn’t have to follow a public school schedule. I could give them a two hour break in the afternoon and finish up in the evening or on a Saturday. As far as always being available to pray with someone in need, I had to learn to say, “I can’t meet you this week” with no guilt.

Having a Mary Kay face each day became a distant memory. Good bye “quick” beauty regimen; eyeliner and mascara could suffice. I still cooked each day, but cooking fed my creative mind. As far as the post-911 soberness in the American air, my future was in God’s hands and no terrorist could steal it.

Our days became more relaxed as I resisted those deceiving perfectionist demons. So what if I sat on the floor playing blocks with my three year old while rehearsing spelling words with my first grader as my elementary school kids read or did matmilkh? So what if a cup of milk spilled on the floor in the middle of a history lesson?

I breathed easier once the noose of perfectionism was gone.

No matter what type of labor makes up your day, make sure that you are not trying to live up to a standard that makes you driven, harsh, worried, or stressed out. I know that there are professional environments that are “dog-eat-dog”, but ask yourself, is the pressure worth your health and joy?

We all need to ask ourselves, “What are we trying to prove and to whom?”  As long as we are doing whatever the Lord had put on our agenda, then we can rest that he will help us and guide us and make up for any way that we fall short.

Lord, help us cast our cares on you. Remind us daily that your yoke is easy and your burden is light. Show us burdens that we’ve mistakenly picked up. Make us creative and innovative people, that can realize when we need to do something differently so that our wheels won’t keep spinning. Help us remember that the only shoes we need to fill are our own. Thank you Lord for your constant care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saying Goodbye to the end of life….

Saying goodbye to the end of life as I know it, or have known it, isn’t easy. My heart sighs. My breathing grows faint. Every cell in my body grieves the ensuing loss of the familiar. My mind races forward. What will life be like? Snippets of practical realities come before my eyes. I’ll have to keep their clothes organized. Get up earlier to make lunches. Different kinds of lunches. No more fresh off the pan grilled cheese. Or spontaneous lunch outings to our favorite pizza place. No more me being the first person to say, “Good job!” Or seeing their eyebrows widen when they’ve observed a science experiment. I’ll be sure to have my plate empty once they home so they can have mommy time. And so that I can have my boy time. I blink back my tears. Boy time.

FullSizeRenderMy energetic, whiny, brilliant, messy, ask-me-a-hundred-questions in a minute, cuddly boys. For the first time in their lives, and mine, they’ll be off to school. For the first time in 20 years I won’t be a home educator.

Well, I will in a sense. Who I am isn’t changing. What I do between the hours of 8 and 2:30 is. I’ll be excited to help them with their homework. We’ll still have our daily reading aloud time. During the summer months, I already have plans on future science and history field trips, books to read, topics to discuss…

I’ll always be a home educator. It’s been programmed into my motherboard.

While I’m glad that I’ve found a superb private school that will educate my young boys the way I’d want them taught, with the worldview that I uphold, within a small community that encourages parental volunteerism; while I’m still reeling from the undoubtedly divine way this change came about, I’m still sad. I’ll miss seeing those handsome brown faces from 8 to 2:30.

Allowing myself to fully grieve is somewhat new. I still fight off the guilt of entertaining sorrow. After all, this is God’s deal. I kept closing the door, but He kept opening it again. I should be grateful! I’ll be able to write for a few hours a day! Actually write blog posts and finish books! I’ll be able to grocery shop by myself! Be happy Tina!

I am happy. Inside I’m giddy with anticipation. But I’m also sad. And that’s ok.

How many of us allow ourselves to embrace the pain of change and hold on to it until it evaporates within our arms? Not many. However, mental and emotional wellness depends on us permitting ourselves to look our emotions in the eye and say, I’m feeling you. I acknowledge your existence. You are not evil. You are here for this season, for a reason.

After this sincere acknowledgement, my new default when sentimental reflection camps in my mind is to close my eyes and imagine the arms of Jesus hugging me from behind, leaning his head into my neck, and weeping with me. He is my comforter.

What I’ve learned is that one day, my heart won’t feel heavy when I think about the next school year because my soul would have absorbed and processed the memories in my limbic system as well as the maternal affections within the amygdala and this period of grieving change will be over.  The science of the soul.

I’ve decided that part of my grieving process is giving back, sowing into, and sharing: insight, wisdom, stories, and lessons that I’ve learned for the last twenty years as a stay at home mom and home educator. I love homeschooling. I love the fact that parents have this option in our nation that acknowledges the divine mandate of personal choice.

DPP_0040So while I will no longer be a part of the local home schooling community, and will be immersed in a private school culture for the next twelve years, I will always support and endorse home education for those that are open to it. I’ll also endorse my new private school. (smile) I’m embracing the reality of Ecclesiastes 3 verse 1.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven”

In another post I’ll tell the story on how God convinced me that my home schooling days were done after twenty fruit-filled years. He has appointed my next academic year to be something that I’ve never known.

Next posts: Homeschoolers are not Carbon Copies
Personal Growth: My Kids are My Mirror
The Flexibility of A Home School Program
“God, I’m Tired”
The Blessing of Co-ops

Tina C Webb has been a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia since graduated from UVa in 1991 where she majored in English and Music. Her husband, Doug, also a UVa grad and she have six children. Christina – Uva, 2014; Chris – VCU, 2015;  Maria – a student a Piedmont Community College; Douglas, who will graduate from the Regents School of Charlottesville in 2018, Jared – a rising 2nd grader and Drew – a rising Kindergartener. Tina home educated the first three from K-12 and Douglas K-10.  Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1969, she’s been an associate pastor, a worship director, an author and a blogger. Her hobbies are indoor and outdoor DIY projects and cooking.

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