My Fitness

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Rae Stroud's Introductory Post

Hey Homeschool Family!

My name is Rae.  I'm the new membership director here at DCHSA.  Which basically means I am the one woman welcome wagon! ;-)  Essentially, the best job ever!  

I'm the product of a homeschool family.  That fact alone has the power to either encourage you greatly or terrify you immensely. ;-)

My family liked to travel, so homeschooling fit us perfectly!  Like a lot of homeschoolers, I went to college early and was done by 18.  Degrees/Certificates: Biology & Theology.  Which turns out, in the real world, translates into jobs you will love, with a salary you will not love.  Unless you enjoy living alone, eating poke salad for every meal, drinking tap water, & living in a van down by the river.  Then never mind, you will love it!  I say do it!

Things to know about me...
I'm Verbose (describe yourself in 1 word - that's mine... the struggle is real)
My memory is iffy at best.

-Books (cannot. help. myself.)
-Board games
-Farmers Markets
-My parents (the rest of my family too & in-laws...they all pretty much rock!)

Not loves:
-Laundry (we may or may not have a laundry pile that when separated looks like a mountain range that we affectionately refer to as "Mount Neverest" because it resembles a mountain and it never let's us rest)
-Cooking/baking (I do them out of necessity only)
-Finishing the last page of the last book in a series :-/  (Boo!)
-Commercials (Last year when my youngest turned 4 we had to shop at the "As seen on tv" store... for every gift :-/ Advertising genius' lodging them perfectly between educational programs)  which brings me to...
-Kinetic sand (To the best of my knowledge it exists solely to fill vacuum bags and leave reminders behind for days of all the "good times" you had playing with it... like "Fun" residue)

I am also very decisive.  For example, I firmly decided we would not have any pets... Therefore, we have 4 hermit crabs, 3 fat tailed geckos, 2 neighborhood cats, and 1,000,000 birds, whom are free to leave the yard but do not feel it necessary...  But then again, I also said I would never get married & I would never have children.  18 years of marriage & 3 kids later, there is strong testimony to my firm resolve.  Yep!  Once I make up my mind, it cannot be changed! ;-)   Solid as an oak... who turned into a rubber tree. :-/   

Funny how you think you have everything figured out as a teen and then God gets a hold of you and essentially saves you from yourself.  I remember honestly thinking as a teenager that if I ever would get married, I'd be a real catch!  In reality, turned out I was/am quite a fixer upper ;-) Yep!  I thought I was the most patient person in the world... and then I had children, whew!  Thought I didn't have any hot buttons, then we started homeschooling and I found evidence that I may be wrong on several of these previously held beliefs...  Experience changes you... homeschooling changes you...   

I remember being so enthusiastic! So excited! I got the Cathy Duffy '101 top picks' and dutifully filled out the quiz... I read about learning styles, teaching methods, educational philosophies, I researched, & researched some more.  I was ready!  My oldest son was 4.  I just knew he'd be reading in the '100 easy lessons'...  A year later, I remember feeling behind, panicked even,  when I caught a glimpse of a "Your baby can read" infomercial.  My son was 5.  Here,  we'd already tried the 100 easy lessons, which proved to be not easy at all.  We'd tried phonemic awareness drills, 'Ready, set, read!' and a multitude of other programs.  We had now moved on to hooked on phonics.   But after months we couldn't get past the yellow book and there was no interest in reading at all. 

 My good friend/neighbor and I had kids days apart and her son was practically reading better than I could and he was 5.  It was then, that I started learning my first lessons on the importance of not comparing your children with others, letting your children develop at their own pace, and chilling out!  I asked my friend if I could come over and if she would show me what she was doing, how she taught her son to read... she agreed... I  had convinced myself that the reason her son was reading was because she was a former school teacher and she was better equipped than I.  But as I sat in her kitchen, she pulled out the things she was doing, I realized that, in this case, it had nothing to do with method, nothing to do with the teacher, or the curriculum and everything to do with her son being ready.  She had taught her son to read from a book that cost 9.99, a set of Bob books, and a handmade chart...  No fancy curriculum, no flashy computer program...  I deflated sitting there as I realized that I had spent hundreds of dollars trying different methods, months and months beating myself up, convincing myself that I wasn't good enough, I was doing it wrong, and feeling a little defeated.  I walked home that day praying about what truth the Lord was trying to show me... That I was enough.  In fact, every bit of enough.  My son was smart.  Super duper smart!  It wasn't the curriculum, nor the method... it was simply me having to realize that some things are truly out of our control and maybe it was time to try the one thing I hadn't yet...  and that was to wait... 

I had read many books on learning/teaching to read.  I had consulted several moms I considered mentors in the field of homeschooling and over and over again they would say "Wait.  Just shelf it for awhile and pull it back out when he shows interest." For some reason that notion seemed unreasonable, irresponsible even.  But with nothing else left to try and for fear of damaging our relationship, I waited...  Until one day, 6 months later, I heard my son sitting on the couch talking away.  As I got closer I realized he was reading - the yellow book... all by himself!   YYYEEESSSSSS!!!!!  The elation I felt in that moment!  VICTORY!  All of those authors, those homeschool veterans, they were right!  Go figure!  I am so thankful to have learned that lesson early on. I am thankful for other Homeschool moms & dads who were willing to share experiences and wisdom.  I am not sure where I would be without others who were willing to support, willing to share, willing to advise, willing to open their homes and say  this is what worked for us, this is what didn't.  Reminding me constantly that every child is different and no one thing will work for every child or family. 

I suppose that is why when we moved here 2 years ago we launched a "FIND OUR PEOPLE" family campaign!  HA!  We were on a mission to find our new homeschool community, friends, support, and in a lot of ways, our new family.   It took us awhile but we found you!  We are so glad to be here, we are so thankful for the opportunity to get to know you all, and we genuinely hope we get to share in your homeschool journey as well!  See you all at the events!  

School on!  We're cheering for you!!! 

The Strouds
Zach, Rae, Bubba(12), Sissy (10), DaiseyMae (4)
DCHSA Membership Director(s)

If I could describe Rae in one word, I'd choose "Sunshine" because she always brightens the room.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

rosh hashanah

Rosh Hashanah has always confused me since I'm not culturally Jewish. Or at least that's why I assume it's confused me. There's no mention of it in the Bible. And as far as "new years" go, the Jewish one is in Spring. So when I got this explanation in the mail, I finally started to understand.

So read on if this has ever puzzled you or if you are just curious about Jewish people:

Saturday, September 5, 2015

adopting lily and rose

I don't know where to begin writing. Many have heard this story already. I just needed a place to collect all my thoughts. I'll update as there's news. In all statistical likelihood, I will never see these girls that my heart calls my daughters. Luckily, I serve a God who dwells outside of "all statistical likelihood". It will take an absolute divine miracle beyond comprehension for these girls to join us in America. 

It all started with a blogpost I read on The City from a missionary doctor to Bihar, India. He wrote that the girls were born healthy and fine but that the parents didn't want them:
While this level of depravity seems unthinkable and is completely beyond my understanding, it's no different than the millions of abortions of the Western World. If that had been an option to this couple, I'm sure that's what they would have chosen and we would never have heard their story. So while we can sit in our cultural blankets and judge this callous couple, we need to remember the grace of God that has shrouded our hearts and likely our eyes from such hatefulness. Killing one's offspring before or after birth is always wrong, all the time, no exception. Think of these girls the next time you make an exception.

A lot of what follows you may have already read if you are friends with me on Facebook. 

I reached out to the doctor and asked about adoption. I can't imagine how busy he is and how big an inconvenience it would be to try to help us any further. But my heart is broken. I gave up for about an hour the other day and immediately sent him another request for help. 

Initially he replied, "Thanks for asking about the triplets. The girls were all taken home by the family and we are praying that they will take care of them. Adoption is a very difficult process in India especially if the parents are non-Indian. Keep praying for the families here that they might come to know Jesus."

I replied in the usual "thanks anyway" but couldn't let it be "anyway". There's at least two people's lives on the line. Girls are thrown away all the time and perhaps this is just a story to open my eyes are get me pursuing the adoption of someone else, but I can't give up yet. So I replied again:

"I can't seem to let this be the end of trying. I fear those girls are already dead. If you happen to run into the family in a supernatural coincidence, perhaps you can let them know there's a family interested in adopting the babies. We would be able to compensate them financially for the care they've given. I know this is crazy but if this is of God then things will work out and if not then simply asking you will result in nothing. So I ask because I don't see a downside."

And that's true- what harm could possibly come from simply letting this doctor know that if by some miracle he happens to find the family and they do not want the girls still, that we are willing to take them? I don't see a downside. I'm sure the doctor thinks I'm crazy to think he will ever see them again and that he'd have time to do anything about it. I know it will be terribly inconvenient and awkward for him to ask anything on our behalf. 

Adoption from India of orphaned and abandoned children is arduous. I don't know that they even have the equivalent of open adoptions in India. Looking at the situation it seems impossible: first we have to find the girls, hope that they're even still living, ask the parents to give them to an American family, and cross our fingers that their government would even allow it. 

This is impossible.

Ideally, the parents would choose to see their children as a joy and a gift, a blessing from God. But what if Satan's hold on their hearts cannot be undone? Then obviously, the next best thing would be to place these girls in a loving family. 

I understand how the Indian government has set up their adoption rules in an effort to get Indian children adopted by Indian families, but it just isn't happening. That leaves a lot of international families giving up because the government seems to enjoy spending money on unwanted children rather than getting money from families who do want them. 

My greatest desire for this situation would be that the parents find redemption through Christ. Dear God please touch this couple and draw them to yourself. Redeem them and sanctify them. Have them stand against the crowd and set the trend for love in their community. 

If I can't have the parents as a brother and sister (as Christians call each other), then I want their children as my own and eventually my sisters. Heavenly Father, please bless the situation, find the girls, bring them home. 

I was chatting with a friend who knew I asked about the babies. I let her know that I already chose names for the girls, Lily and Rose. At first I looked at some Hindi names but after the first dozen "a" names I realized I had no idea which names were good and which were bad. That's when "Lily" and "Rose" popped in my head. And I thought, "why these names?" And immediately I remembered Song of Solomon where the beautiful bride calls herself "the rose of Sharon" and "lily of the valley". And I knew those names were perfect because then one day when the girls are grown they can return to Bihar, find their parents, and use their own names to share the gospel with them. (I realize that many people think Jesus is the lily and rose, but that analogy doesn't make any sense.)

We are trying to provide for the least of these. I hope I've inspired you to pursue a sacrificial love too. 

I actually gave a name to the third sister as well but if I were to actually take her home I would change it. The name that keeps popping into my head for her is Corolla. Corolla is not Biblical like Lily and Rose although it is floral; corolla is the petal formation of flowers. Maybe we can name her Sharon. I like that much better. 

This is my raw heart that I know people will be rude and judgmental toward me for desiring children in a difficult situation while laboring with the delivery of my own fourth child. 

I was in a hopeless and helpless situation myself. Before I was adopted I thought playing with excrement was fun. I would even paint myself in filth and pretend I looked better than the other orphans. We were all so blind and dumb. And then my Father found me and he cleaned me and he saved me. How can I do anything less for any situation I come across? 

Maybe these aren't my daughters. Maybe you are reading this story and you know of someone who is thinking the same horrible thoughts about her own child. Tell her to contact me. I don't judge because I cannot imagine that situation. My house is a safe place. You don't abandon your child here; you give and love your child by giving them a hope and a future and placing them in a loving home. Yes, I'm crazy. I'm overrun with crazy affection for a God who saved me no questions asked. I'm crazy to want to share that overpowering love with everyone. I share it with the lost babies and by loving the babies we show love to their mothers as well. I'm simply walking what I preach: love. 

I hope that Lily, Rose, and Sharon's mother has been overcome with love for her daughters. I hope she feels silly for ever wishing harm on them. I hope they all live happily ever after. I cannot imagine culturally thinking their children are a curse and I cannot imagine that cultural pressure surrounded by PPD. Dear God please protect that mother's heart and mind. Give her supernatural peace and serenity. Have her find Christ. Have her lead her girls to Christ and use this story to help spread the gospel in India. 

I've already had people approach me with financial support which is amazing. I cannot describe the amount of awe that I feel to see people's reactions. To see the love that surrounds these girls, fills my heart with even more crazy love. 

Give your babies an extra kiss.

This may be the end of our part of the story. But God has other babies that need to be adopted and I am willing should another baby be dropped in our laps.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

unto us a child is born -seven feasts

The second part of Zola Levitt's The Seven Feast of Israel goes to an unexpected topic: gestation!

Two funny parts that annoy me because I dislike Ob-Gyns is his quote about this obgyn whom he interviewed. First he says she's a very good obstetrician "who has delivered over ten thousand babies." I have been pregnant four times and delivered three of these babies so far. I cannot imagine what it's like to be pregnant over ten thousand times. Surely, some of those must be duplicates. Unless of course this obgyn is taking credit for delivering babies when she merely caught babies that the mothers delivered.

Later she described that after an amount of time "it becomes a human fetus" and before that you wouldn't know if you're having a duck or a dog. Obviously she knows nothing about genetics and DNA. I believe she meant that if you randomly found several embryos laying out on a lab counter, they all look the same for the first few days. But you would most definitely be able to tell what the genetic make-up of any offspring is.

With those two caveats out of the way, what ZL and this gal shared was very insightful about the development of the human fetus through to birth. This gal's name is Margaret Matheson, MM.

MM told ZL that the ideal pregnancy lasts 280 days. Already we can see the easy division of 10 months of 28 days. Of course, lunar months are 28 days whereas solar months each have their own number; February with 28 or 29 and March with 31 and then April back to 30 for instance.

MM shared that the fourteenth day of the first month, the egg appears. Now really inside a woman the egg has always been there and is not visible, but she means it emerges and fertilization is possible at this point.

ZL reminds us that the fourteenth day of the first month, we celebrate Passover. Symbolically the Jews use an egg during the meal for the new life they were granted by the sacrifice of the lamb in Egypt.

MM shared how fertilization must occur in the next 24 hours of the egg will pass. ZL shares that the egg holds the idea of fertilization, that is the planting of the seed. This corresponds to Christ's burial and the feast of Unleavened Bread.

Next, the First Fruits feast is not on a definite time cycle, remember. And MM shared that the fertilized egg travels for any time over the next week and implants. And 50 days, Pentecost, the baby is distinguishable as a new creature and this is where MM claims to finally know if her patients are going to have a human baby rather than puppies.

Just like in the festival year and in human history there's a pause in exciting fetal development as things just further along the course they are going. But then at the beginning of the seventh month, just in time for the Rapture and the feast of Trumpets, the baby's hearing develops. For me, this is the most significant. [Previously, saying that at 50 days is when we have a new creature seemed ludicrous. But perhaps this is also apparent in Christian dogma where a Calvinist says that while regeneration started at the acceptance of Christ's sacrifice, the Christian's name has been written in the Lamb's Book of Life since before time began, whereas the Arminians would claim that until a person chooses to follow Christ they are nothing. Two heads of the same coin. I realize I didn't do either side justice, but I don't want to get stuck on this rabbit trail. We should simply recognize that this embryo was always human but the blood didn't form until this time.]

ZL asked if there was anything significant about the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement. MM answered that this is when the baby's blood turns from being solely dependent on the mother for oxygen to being capable of carrying his own oxygen. If that blood was acceptable, then there would be life, historical sacrifice, spiritually, and in fetal development.

And finally the feast of Tabernacles, where saved souls go on to everlasting and our spirits are saved, is the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when the lungs are developed. The Christian will readily recognize the symbolism here in that spirit is always symbolized as breath or air. The Tabernacle is where the Spirit of the Lord rested, and for the Christian his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. "The baby would live if born at Tabernacles. The believer will live once he enters the kingdom."

This shows that the Bible is not just somebody's poetry or somebody's mythology. We experience the seven feasts of God before we are even born. Then, we are born again and go through the seven feasts spiritually. That phrase of Jesus' holds deeper meaning now.

Helpful Links:
Anatomy of the Human Body

Fetal Development