Halfsies – Mixed schooling at its best

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At the end of every summer, I get education anxiety.

When I first had a baby, people told me my sleep would forever be changed, my heart would walk around outside my body, and all kinds of information about breast is best, child led weaning, and cloth v. disposable. #weuseboth

No one ever told me that education was going to be my biggest concern. No one told me that I would lose countless night of sleep, not to hungry babies, but to endless mind rants of the educational choices available to my child. #firstworldproblem

When we carefully selected a private Lutheran preschool for my oldest child, I thought,

“Oh good. Educational choice made. Check that box!”

I mean, that was hard enough. We toured schools, we googled what to look for to find the best education, we prayed and prayed and prayed some more.

Three years later, we discovered it wasn’t working for us. It wasn’t working for her, it wasn’t working for our family.

We solidified our homeschool philosophy, figured out a system, and did something new, something alternative. It was good for three of us. Three of us were miserable. #backtothedrawingboard

I internalized every single article I read and every voice of the external debate…

Homeschool, public school, private school, some of each – the choices abound. #againfirstworldproblem

I wanted every member of our family on the same page. I wanted one system that would just work for everyone, for the love of Pete! Is that too much to ask?!

“Just give me a system, God! Give me a system!”

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I think so many of us, whether in schooling, parenting, our marriages, goodness, even life itself, want a system.

This is what God has taught me…

“Do you believe in individuality, Heidi? Do you believe that I, your Lord and Savior, value each and every one of your children, as individuals, knit together carefully, lovingly, tenderly?”

Why, yes I do, God. Yes, I do.

So, this year, we are going rouge. One in homeschool, with maybe some public school classes, three in private Lutheran education.

This may work forever. We may need to change it up next year, or the year after that, or not at all. As much as I value stability, I’m beginning to learn that there is no life system. There is only Jesus.

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.   Psalm 18:1-2

He is our rock. He is our stable ground;Christ Jesus for us, and for our kids. When we walk willingly into the unknown and imperfect, resting in Him, we stand as witnesses to His strength and not our own.

So, here’s to no system!

I still have some education anxiety, but at least I know where to turn. Casting it on Him, who cares infinitely.

Praying over every momma, every child, and every teacher. May His faithfulness pour out to each of you as you go along your way.

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The Great Lunch Boycott of 1996



Day 4 – A time to speak or the Great Lunch Boycott of 1996


I really enjoy a good protest. Not unnecessary protest, mind you, but there is a whole lotta joy in standing up for something you really believe in. I feel like it’s a blessing to be a part of the process.

When I was a junior in high school, I was involved in my first large group protest. It was a quiet but mighty protest, which strikes me as maybe the best kind. And it all started around a school lunch table.

School lunch menus and nutrition were not the activist’s dream team that they are today. Back in my day, because I’m so old evidently ;), there were squares on a lunch tray that were filled with what they served or you could bring what you would like. That was it. Pass the tray, pick it up, or pack your lunch. This worked for me most of the time… until the day I wanted an apple.

Apples, yum! Who doesn’t love ’em?! An apple was $1.00. I could buy a Snickers bar for $.50 at the student council store 4 steps away…hmmmm, what to do, what to do. You can guess the terrible health decisions that occurred based on this ridiculousness. And for some students, who had limited funds and no access to healthy food otherwise, I became incensed. So did a few of my other lunch table cohorts and so the wheels of change began to turn with a handful of high school students.

We organized a large and successful lunch boycott. This was so life changing for me, stepping up, in a massive way, and refusing to overlook injustice (laugh if you will), that I wrote about it in my entrance essay for graduate school. My early social work self relished that moment when my principal called us into his office and said, “Shut down the boycott, or you’ll find yourselves suspended.” Ok. Just try me.

The next week, “You’ll get suspended” turned into “what do you want.”

I want a world where apples are served in one of my squares. I want edible green stuff on another square. I want Thanksgiving lunch more than once a year. I want…
wait for it…a salad bar.”

What my requests really meant were,
I want to be listened to.
I want to be valued.
I want my opinion to not just matter, but have an impact.”

Girls, we have a God who says, “Yes! You are worth listening to. You are valued. Your opinion matters. You have an eternal impact.”

And all this about stuff that matters so much more than what sits on my lunch tray…
Topics like 
abortion
destructive sexual relationships
abuse
human trafficking
poverty
violence
prejudice
hate

And more…I could list more! 

God’s work is done when we bring light to the dark places, and often that means speaking up, speaking out, and speaking with.

Proverbs 31:8-9 tells us –
Open your mouth for the mute,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.


Ephesians 4:15 simply says –
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…

In addition, check out:
Psalm 82:3
Isaiah 1:17
Zechariah 7:9-10

These are all verses that ask us to stand against oppression, to stand against the darkness, and to speak for justice.
We can speak because we have someone who pleads for us every day – Jesus Christ. He intercedes for us, forgives us, and renews us for every good work. He is the voice of the voiceless in the heavenly places and through us on earth. It’s just so praise worthy.

All to You, Lord. All to You.
Lord, speak through your children. Use me. Direct me. Mold me to be ever speaking Your Truth, in Your love, to Your people. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Discussion questions:
What topic do you feel most passionate to speak up about?
What avenues do you think go unnoticed when it is time to speak up?
What pitfalls and benefits come with speaking up on social media?

Cast Away, a lesson on change

Photo overlay made with the vrsly app 🙂



Day 4 – Cast Away, a lesson on change


I love throwing stuff away. It’s an actual problem. One time I threw away a small pile of bills that Dave had set on the counter to pay. He was not very happy with me and several years down the road, my family still reminds me to “check first, throw away later.” Thank you, family. Thank you.

The idea of simplifying, as you can probably tell, then speaks to the inner me. What can we get rid of? What around me is piling up and creating internal anxiety seeping in from my external world? The question I am not so great at addressing is not what needs to go then, but what is God calling me to keep? We need to be aware of both of these questions before we begin casting away.

The two stories that comes to mind when I think of the word “casting” are as different as night and day, at first glance. I think they can help us begin to delve into these questions in our own life, what is God calling me to keep? What is God calling me to cast away? So keep those two questions in mind as you read below.

First, read Luke 4:31-37 –
And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching themon the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
Jesus calls us to cast the things out of our lives that are in opposition to Him. Jesus, himself, casted demons out of people, because he cared for them. As the body of believers, we have the difficult responsibility of helping one another identify and cast out the “demons” in our own lives. Addiction, selfishness, greed, lust, hatred, bitterness, slander, gossip, envy, hurtful words, discontent. This list is not exhaustive. The problem is very complex, this casing off with our neighbor, because we constantly also need to be doing this in our own life for any of our good intentions with one another to be heard. Verse 36, above, is not to be missed, “They were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is this word?’” What is this Word? Who is this Jesus that we have to share with one another that casts out the hurt and the wounding words, the resentfulness from our lives? When we testify about His Word to one another, this work of casting out is done together, in Him.

Second, let’s read John 21:1-12 –

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.  Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”They answered him, “No.”  He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.  That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.  Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”  So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.  Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.


Highlight or underline the word “cast” within this passage in your Bible.
Read those particular verses again.

This is an invitation to change something up.

The Hebrew word for cast away in Ecclesiastes 3:6b can also be translated to throw or to fling. It immediately brought to mind the men casting out those nets, throwing them into the water and continuously coming up with nothing. Hearts confused after Jesus’s death and resurrection, searching for answers, and deciding to go back to the same ol’, same ol’.

Many people have this experience in their walk of faith, in the searching. We know that we have a God who finds, who seeks us, but that doesn’t stop us from casting our nets out into the world, searching, hoping, waiting, seeking. While that sounds negative, I don’t believe that it necessarily has to be. God has placed that internal desire to seek and search in us, because we exist in this recepricol relationship with Him. We live as found people, able to move to the other side of the boat, to throw our nets of fear, and struggle, and doubt into other waters because He is the same God on both sides, and the same Jesus is waiting on the beach to rejoice with us over breakfast at the miraculous catch of His work in our lives.

Praise Jesus! Praise Him! Can you see the nets, stretched taunt with the fish of His faithfulness, His goodness. Be warned, that abundant catch may look a lot more like struggle from the world’s perspective. Our catch that we await isn’t necessarily a bigger house, or a brand new BFF that adds sunshine and joy to our daily lives. It might be, but in God’s economy, it might also be a challenging new ministry opportunity, a new insight that causes us to change something that prunes us, or time spent on a relationship that takes time and energy.

How do we decide when something needs to be cast away or our nets cast into different waters?

We pray. We read His Word.

There is this therapeutic idea called “giving it space.” This is when something in life is pressing in, a decision, a relationship, a discussion. Sometimes we don’t have an answer, a solution, and God calls us to wait. We can give it space, give it breathing room. We can pray and seek His word. We needn’t press down on the issue and squeeze the life out of it, as I am so often guilty of. We can let it sit. God has is in His hands, and He will alert us when the time comes to cast away. And when that time comes, let’s do it! Let’s be faithful and strong in heart in the Lord.

In it together, sisters, whether in the waiting or in the casting away. In it together.  

Discussion questions:
Are you a keeper or do you easily throw things away?
What was something you have gotten rid of that you wish you would have kept?
When have you had to change something up in life, and it wasn’t easy?

*All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV translation. 

A pastor’s wife that changed my life…

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.                                                                                                       Ephesians 4:16


When I was growing up my pastor was larger than life in my eyes. He wore these special outfits, could fill a whole church with his voice, and just knew so much! Once confirmation hit, he patiently listened to every argument I had about women in the church. And he never once made me feel like I was a heathen (even though my teen years were rocky at best). All of this made a huge impact on my life. I understood forgiveness and mercy and grace because it was extended to me, not just through the booming voice from the pulpit on Sundays, but through the man I knew as Pastor.

All of this matters, but there is a piece of the story that could easily go unnoticed. When I was 17 and trying to pick a college, it was a major ordeal. I was at a crossroads. I visited no less than 20 different schools; state schools, private schools, all girls schools, huge schools, tiny schools. I knew somewhere deep down that whatever I chose had the power to change the course of my life, and I hated that. I was frustrated and scared and too immature to know that God would work in my life no matter what path I took. 

One Sunday, after returning from a particularly daunting round of college visits in Chicago-land, my pastor’s wife found me in the giant post-service crowd. 
   “How did it go?” she asked.
   “Ok. Blah. I don’t know.” I replied in my teenage angst.
   “Have you ever thought about Concordia?”

Freeze frame…at this point I had never heard of Concordia, and I didn’t know that there were 10 of them. I’m kind of thankful I didn’t know, because it wasn’t Concordia in that moment that mattered. 

It was my beautiful pastor’s wife, reaching in. 

I was lost and struggling. My parents were awesome, but I needed other people invested in my life, caring, loving, and encouraging me to stay the course. Honestly, I’m 100% positive that life would have looked a whole lot different for me without this conversation. In her Concordia question, Mrs. Sharon Fraker wasn’t just asking me if I wanted to go to a Lutheran school… she was telling me I had value enough to contemplate life with, that whatever path I walked, she’d help me search it all out. And she did. That question opened my eyes to the reality that I mattered to the Church and her people. That God had a plan for me and there were people who would help me discern it. I wasn’t in this alone. 

My pastor’s family did other things. They came to the plays I was in, they showed up when invited to our big, loud family celebrations, and they invited me into their home to babysit for their precious children. All of these things made life together real for me, it helped me to understand that the Church isn’t four walls and a steeple, but people invested in one another, in and out of trials.

I went to Concordia, found the deaconess program, met friends for a lifetime, devoured the Word, and married my hilarious husband, who happened to be pre-seminary. I turned out just fine and I am forever grateful to one pastor’s wife who took a little time to invest in me. 

How many of us have been impacted by the woman who happens to be married to the pastor? I want them to know, they make a difference. Whether in quiet conversation or overt leadership, these women have an impact, and I, for one, am grateful. 

*Orientation week exploring at Concordia Chicago 🙂

Let’s share our stories! Tell me about a pastor’s wife that had an impact on your life. You can share in the comments or contact me for a guest post. Blessings, as you bless those around you, friends!


My New Year’s “Things I Don’t Do” List

My friend gave me a book recently, called Bittersweet:Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist. The book was really helpful to me during a really difficult period of my life. But…this isn’t a book review. 🙂 One of the ideas the author shared, in a later chapter of the book, was that she started a “Things I Don’t Do List.” The author talks about her struggle with comparing herself to everyone around her, trying to “measure up”, and do all things well. Oh boy, did this strike a cord with me.

I have perfectionist tendencies to say the least, that have gotten better (I think!) with 4 kids, graduate school, and life happenings that leave me well aware of the complete lack of control I have in most things. However, when I became a pastor’s wife I had a sneaking suspicion that this would be just one more role I would be lacking in. Surrounded by expectations, mostly of my own making, most days I felt a bit harried, under appreciated, and outside the Body.

Again, maturing in my Faith has done a lot for me. Letting God’s Spirit fill where I lack, knowing full well I am completely and utterly a sinner, but completely and utterly forgiven- that’s a beautiful thing. It causes me to pause and say, “Thank you, Lord, for always being enough.”

All that said, the “Things I Don’t Do List” sounded just like a good idea of celebrating doing what I do well, and leaving some stuff out that just isn’t me, and that’s O.K.

Things I Don’t Do:
1) Make delectable potluck dishes… It’s a fact. I can cook, I love having people at my table. I just can’t get it together for a potluck. I bring chips, multigrain. Yum.

2) Act as my husband’s secretary… I don’t take messages. I know it may seem easier, but I will forget because a baby will need their diaper changed or someone will hit their sister or a youth group member will share about a life changing event. I just am no good with messages.

3) Ask my children to be completely quiet in worship… I don’t believe in this. They are loud children. Sometimes I wish we were quiet people, but that’s not our strength. I will ask them to be respectful of others, participate fully, and give their whole heart to worship. They will not always sit and stand at just the right time, they will ask lots of questions and I will remind them to ask more quietly, and they will belt out “This is the Feast” even when they don’t know all the words.

4) Read less… I love books. I love them like no one’s business. I carry a book around for stolen moments of quietness. I’m not going to judge myself for spending time reading. 

5) Debate my educational choices with strangers…we make the best decisions we can for our children, regardless of other’s opinions. We take the church into account and society’s general opinions, but beyond that, it’s us and God, and moving in the direction we feel He points us.

6) Eat mediocre chocolate…I need to stop wasting my calories. I love dark chocolate, good wine, yummy food, and good friends to share it with. 

7) Hide my testimony… I come from a lot of dark and difficult places. God has brought me from the pit. Redeemed it. Made it Holy. Given it purpose. It’s meant to glorify Him, nothing more, nothing less. May it be so.

What would be on your “Things I Don’t Do List”? I’d love to hear your thoughts, silly, serious, or anywhere in between!