That Moment When

I remember when my oldest child, Ethan, who is now 17 years old, was a tiny thing and I thought about everything I was going to teach him. I was going to do it right, too, I tell you!

I’d armed myself with all my books by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore. Books like Better Late Than Early and the annotated version School Can Wait, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, Home Grown Kids, and many more.

I was ready!


And, wait I would. Because I wasn’t going to force my children to learn to read.

Then, while I was waiting, Ethan did something unexpected.

He taught himself to read.

But, seriously! The only thing I did, quite selfishly, was purchase a LeapPad for him to play with in the car. In fact, I wouldn’t let him play it anywhere else other than in the car because I didn’t want him to a) lose the parts (there were books and cartridges that went together) and thus have nothing to do in the car, or b) get bored with it and thus have nothing to do in the car.

After playing with the books, he would ask me these questions – out of the blue – like, “Mom? Why don’t you pronounce both these letters [referring to vowels]?” Pointing to the A and the E in the word SAVE.

“Oh, that’s because the second vowel is silent so that the first says its name.”

Several days later, he’d challenge, “Mom? This word doesn’t follow the rules,” pointing to the word SIGHT. “The letter I says its name even though there’s only one [vowel].”

“Nope,” I’d answer. “That’s because there’s another rule that says…”

Or, “I guess that one breaks the rules,” in the case of most of the sight words.

We walked our way through the phonics rules in this manner — me explaining one, Ethan identifying either one that followed a new rule or a rule breaker. That’s what he called them, “rule breakers.”

And, just like that he was reading! Before the age of six! By not-quite-eight years old, he was reading chapter books.

Boy, did I think I was good.

Actually, I kind of felt like a fraud at this homeschooling thing. I was supposed to be teaching him, but instead he was managing quite well without me.

In retrospect, I was so glad that he was my first child and not Lowell.

Lowell was a completely different story.

Lowell wasn’t reading by the time he was eight. He showed no aptitude by the time he was 10. At 12, I started second-guessing myself, second-guessing my methods. And then I would look at my son who, had he attended traditional school, would have been diagnosed as having ADD/ADHD, SPD, with Asperger’s and dyslexia.

And, instead of being labeled, instead of believing himself to be “disabled” or stupid or a whole host of other less-formal labels, my son was a little oblivious — blissfully oblivious to what others thought of him. I was the one who fielded questions or looks from those who thought he should have been reading long before then.

My poor mother was almost beside herself. She’s a very in-the-box thinker, and she was not so certain about this whole homeschooling thing, at least not the way I was going about it. Unschooling, indeed!

And then one day…he was reading.

I don’t know how it happened. It wasn’t because I sat him down and worked with a curriculum. It wasn’t any one specific thing I did. Except that I waited.

I waited for him to find a reason to learn to read. And write. They came hand in hand since his motivation to read – and write – resulted from playing games on a server with his friends. The only way they could communicate was by a rudimentary instant messenger program.

My oldest daughter, four years younger than my youngest son, wasn’t reading at the age of six, or eight.

This child! Oh, I have to laugh. THIS child was the one that the other homeschooling mom at our church — one of the leaders — had to corral and explain to her that it made homeschoolers look bad when she went around announcing that she didn’t read because she was homeschooled!

My kids are long on confidence, short on nuance.

And so I waited with her too. Of course, it didn’t help that our youth pastor’s wife is a fifth-grade school teacher…who doesn’t appreciate the fact that my children are late readers…and that I do nothing about it.

Waiting has had a different feel to it this time. It feels a little like a subtle chess game punctuated with awkward silences where conversations aren’t had. Even when it’s just she and I, standing there, pretending that we aren’t not crazy about each other. It’s the silence instead of the “Good morning,” or “Happy Sabbath.” It’s dodging into rooms off hallways and seeing her do the same.

And, I smile. Because fundamentally, I know that she believes strongly in what she does. And, I know that I do too. I guess as long as I avoid the pitched battle, I should be thankful, no?

Until one day, my daughter knew how to read. Just like that. No fuss, no muss.

I used to tease this daughter, “Wait a minute. You can’t be texting. You don’t know how to read!”

Predictably, she would just roll her eyes, smile, and say, “Oh mom…”

I have one last girl child who is almost 10 years old. She’s not reading.

Since we now live in a neighborhood replete with little girls her age and younger who are all reading with ease, she’s made lots of noise about wanting to learn how to read. And so, I do what I’ve done with all my children. I encourage her. I purchase reading programs, just like I did with Ethan all those years ago. And, I’m not above bribery!

I’ve told Laurie that once she learns to read, I’ll start her in voice lessons. She was interested and excited for precisely one day.

I guess I’m just sitting here writing with a firm knowing in my chest that, one day, I’ll look up and this girl child will be holding a baby of her own. She’ll start on a journey where she’ll decide to allow her children to learn at home. Or she’ll homeschool them. Or they’ll head off to school each morning.

But, one thing I know: She’ll be reading long before then.

And, I’ll wait. I’m not in a hurry.

A couple of months ago, I took the kids with my mom up into the mountains to look at the fall colors. We went over a pass called “Guanella Pass” just outside Denver.

As we were driving, Mom and I were chatting about the name, wondering if it were an early explorer to our state.

“Lowell. Google it on your phone.”

Several moments later, he began reading about the history of the area.

In that moment, I had one of those times of clarity. I liken it to the commercials where the action stops. The man or woman has leapt in the air during a rainstorm and everything freezes. The raindrops hang suspended as does the main character in the scene.

Suddenly the camera swings around to a different perspective — from the side and behind to directly in front — and a second later the action continues.

I had one of those moments, with my mom, lately a believer, and my three younger children driving along a pretty mountain pass.

“Mom,” I said quietly as Lowell paused mid-sentence, “Lowell’s reading.”

Call Me Pastrami on Rye

I have now officially joined the ranks of the sandwich generation.

It’s been three years since my dad died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The nurses contacted me that morning; perhaps my mom hadn’t answered their call. I was the backup contact.


We arrived at the nursing home mid-morning; he died around midnight. In the intervening hours, my mother, who has been, throughout her life, solid and stoic, grieved like I’ve never seen anyone grieve. At one point, she had no idea where she was. It was shocking.

My mom was a nurse who became a director in two hospital systems. She was masterful at managing her departments and actually getting rid of ineffectual union-protected employees (at a certain point, they would start transferring when word went out that she was coming in). She was a powerhouse.

That day in December of 2013, I remember watching her sob, so frail after Dad passed away. In that moment, I said to God, “It’s okay. She needs to grieve. But, at some point, I want my mom back.”

It was a prayer that would go unanswered.

My mom has never been the same. It’s like she doesn’t have the same drive or focus. One week prior to my dad’s death, his mother also died. Mom had been primary care giver — despite them both being in facilities — to both. Soon thereafter, she also quit her part-time nursing job that she’d had since she’d retired.

Now she had no reason to leave her apartment.

And, in the last three years we’ve watched, helpless and sad, as she declined physically and most recently mentally.

And so last month, my sister began talking to her about the necessity of her giving up her own apartment that was a financial drain. She has three daughters, and combined with her family and friends and the visiting possibilities, there’s no reason she can’t live with my sister and then travel a bit.

It sounded like a fantastic idea — until she unexpectedly gave notice at her apartment, necessitating a move in with my family until she leaves to live with another sister out of state for several months before finally settling back in with my older sister just north of me.

While it is only a temporary arrangement — Mom will live with us through the first of December — I find myself squarely in a sandwich between the children I’m raising and my mom who needs me.


With everything going on with my oldest son during the last year and especially this summer, I’ve felt like I’ve lived in such emotionally upheaval! I’m dealing with physical manifestations of my stress; ironically, my shoulder has developed a condition called adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder.

Isn’t it interesting that it’s my shoulders that are suffering? The pain is excruciating at times. And, there’s no reasonable explanation as to what started it. Unless it’s the weight that they’re carrying around.

My kids have mixed emotions about Grandma moving in. I think they’re still mostly excited, and I’m doing my very best to encourage that. I’ve read accounts of other homeschooling families who had unexpected situations come up that have turned out to be huge blessings despite it interrupting schedules and plans. Heaven knows she might bring a bit of structure and routine to our sometimes-crazy household!

My mom was my rock as I was growing up, and now it’s my turn to be her soft place to land. She’s got health challenges that seem daunting, and I’m already praying for wisdom and strength. I guess it’s time to start leaning, even more so, on my real Rock as I face this new situation!

The Prodigal

The Prodigal Son’s father.

I hadn’t spent much time thinking about him, the role he played in the story. We read so little about him, his part limited to giving his son his part of the inheritance and then, at the end, running down the road welcoming his son.

The postlude has him explaining to his oldest about his reasons for celebrating, inviting his son to join in the festivities.

It seems like the story takes up much more than the 31 verses that it does. It’s a well-explored and oft-preached theme — a favorite.


And yet, I hadn’t thought much about him. The father who had failed.

Wait a minute. Failed? The father is rarely portrayed as a failure! He’s typified as forgiveness in human form! Representing God Himself who waits for the sinner and welcomes him back with open arms and a party!

But, that’s skipping part of the story. Perhaps the most important part of the story.

What kind of a father raises a son who turns his back on the values he was raised with? A son who sleeps with prostitutes? Much more severe than simply a son who has premarital sex with even a few women! Prostitutes?! This son does everything that those who sit on the sidelines deem far from “normal” or even “acceptable”!

If we could go back and watch this family…or perhaps bring this family forward into our times, we wouldn’t be so magnanimous, looking only to the end of the story and calling the father “forgiving” or “wise.” Oh, no! Because, fundamentally, we believe that a failure of a child to live by certain standards, within certain norms, is even more a failure of that parent.


Even if we don’t assign it to those around us, when our children take their inheritances and walk away from us, we take in into our hearts. We hear the whispering of failure and believe it. Sometimes it’s whispered in the looks and overheard conversations of others. Other times it’s the voices we hear in our own heads in the dark of the night when we can’t sleep.

The inheritance.

Having very little inheritance for my children, I never really identified with this part of the story. If given their portion of our wealth, our children wouldn’t get much more than a Builder bar and a box of CapriSun pouches, let alone prostitutes and partying with friends. I’m safe there. And yet, the parables of the Bible never only apply literally. What inheritance do I have to give my children?

I’m a homeschooling mom. I have amassed hours and hours spending time with my children, talking to them about life, about my beliefs, about what I believe to be important life skills. This is the inheritance I have to wrap up in a beautiful box with an ornate bow on the top and give them as they leave to start their adult lives!

In all the times I’ve read about the Prodigal Son, or heard sermons on the topic, or read books that broached the topic, I’ve never — not once — considered the father’s relationship to his sons. I guess I just skipped over that part. I must have assumed that this father wasn’t around for his sons’ first steps. I assumed that he never read books to them when they were little…not there for bedtime rituals. As the sons grew, it would have seemed obvious to me that the father was absorbed in his work, too busy at night — if he was even home for dinners — to engage in discussion with his sons about life, relationships, right and wrong.


There’s no way that a successful parent could have raised a son who left home, way too early, and completely rejected the lifestyle he’d been raised with, the God he’d been raised believing in, the values of the father.

No, that spoke of a fundamental failure. A loss.

Almost a month ago, my 17-year-old told me that he’d made the decision to move out. Told me that he’s doesn’t want to live the lifestyle we’d raised him with. While he loves us, he doesn’t want to live within the boundaries required by our family structure.


Even on good days, when I know that I did everything I could as he was growing — spent hours talking to him, teaching him stories from the Bible and how it applied to him, showing him every way I could my two basic principles for life: love Jesus and love people — I am vividly aware that others look at my son and see failure…my failure probably more than his.

My inheritance. His inheritance. The box crushed and bow ground under foot. Wasted like the money of the Prodigal Son.

In the last month, I have identified more with the Prodigal’s father than I ever thought I would. Suddenly I see him through different eyes. Knowing everything I poured into my son and our relationship, I start to glimpse a new possibility. Perhaps that father did everything right! Perhaps he was involved and interested! Perhaps he spent hours teaching his sons about God and the blessings they enjoyed — at the very least about his business and the commerce he was involved in!

Maybe the father was just as shocked as I was when the relationship seemed sour, quite despite the overwhelming love he felt for his son…that I felt for my son.

Like the father in the story, I didn’t fight my son’s decision. I didn’t try and dissuade him, knowing that it would only cause a deeper rupture in the relationship, driving him farther from me.

Unlike the father, I know that my son’s still alive. I have cell phones and texting. When I text, he responds. The father of the Prodigal had no such reassurance. For all he knew, his son truly was dead, lying in a ditch from accident or from criminal activity, or dead from over-consumption of drugs or alcohol.

My hope? That the father represents God. It’s been pointed out that although He’s perfect, his children — Adam and Eve — rebelled. In parable, the Prodigal Son rebelled. Why do we look at families in crisis, children in rebellion, and assume that there was a failure on some level of the parents?

Those of us who are disciplinarians assume that the parents were too permissive. If we tend toward a looser parenting style, we assume that the rules were too rigidly enforced. I’ve been guilty of it myself. And, at the same time, I convict myself…blame myself.

At one point, during that fateful conversation, my son spoke words that broke my heart: “Mom, I’m not as bad a kid as you think I am.”

Oh, my heart hurt! I didn’t think he was a bad kid! I thought he was making poor decisions! I knew the consequences of those poor decisions! But, at the same time, I knew that fundamentally he is a good person!

Far from believing him to be bad, as my son was saying those words, I was only aware of my heart squeezing. I just loved him so much! My response was, “Son, my love isn’t dependent on your behavior. There’s nothing you could do to make me love you more right now, in this moment. And, there’s nothing you can do to make me love you less. I just love you.”

This is exactly the heart of our Father God as we stand in rebellion to Him. Intended or not, we all stand in a place of rebellion. And now, I understand it on a profound level: He will never love me more; He will never love me less. His love is not dependent on my behavior, nor on my choices even if they’re poor ones.

And so, I’m living the story of the Prodigal Son. I hope and pray to see my son coming home some day! I don’t expect it to be soon! But, I strive only to show my son the love that he craves, even as he does things that hurt me to my core… Every day learning to be more like Jesus.

Summer Trip Tips

For my last post of the year, it’s only fitting that I share with you a few things that I’ve done as I prepare for and begin our 6,000-mile, six-week expedition across the United States. Driving. With three small people.

My traveling companions are my youngest son who will turn 15 the second week of our trip, precluding his helping me drive (no chance to get a permit), and my two younger daughters, aged 11 and 9 years old.

Our route will encompass the states, beginning in Colorado, of Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario (Canada), New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico — not quite half of these 50 United States.


We will leave Colorado before the last snowfall of the year, and hope to get out of Florida before the oppressive heat begins. The race is on!

Fortunately, we won’t be traveling long, brutal hours on the road. Our trip is split up into mostly bite-size stretches of Interstate. We either have family, friends or hotels to allow for a stop of a couple of hours for a meal or even overnight for a brief sleep.

Yes, the kids have electronics but at some point even that becomes incapable of passing the miles and hours. What to do…what to do!

I thought I would share some tips, perhaps a couple of games that I have gleaned from experience and the internet that have been a big hit so far.

So far our favorite game so far is “Cows on My Side.”

I figured the girls would enjoy this game, but as it turned out even my 15-year old got into it and became quite eagle eyed!

Observation is key! What you’re looking for is cows on your side of the vehicle (teams are allowed). The rules are as follows:

When you see a cow on your side of the road, you have to yell, “Cows on my side!”

Every time you call a cow, you get a point. If you see cows on the other side you say, “Cows on your side!” If you call, “Cows on your side,” before the person sees them, you steal a point.

If anyone sees a cemetery they call out, “Ghost cow,” stealing all the other side’s points.

We added the rule that if you called “Cows on my side!” and it turned out to be a horse, dog or clump of dirt, you lose a point.

We also began looking for other unusual animals such as llamas which counted for five points. You could add in other animals that would count for various high-scoring-points depending on the rarity of the animal.

My kids were on the edges of their seats looking for bovines throughout a stretch of Nebraska that was BORRRRRRR-RING!! I couldn’t quite believe that they were engaged with the outdoors and each other instead of their noses buried in electronic gadgets!

For each of the states we will travel, we are referencing the website and reading the 50 facts about each state as we are driving in it. This activity doesn’t last long but it provokes some interesting conversations that maximize teachable moments focusing on history!

The other thing I did was prepare several “bingo” cards. The bingo cards were either for restaurants (makes of vehicles (logos for Toyota, Honda, Fords, etc.) or road signs.

Restaurant bingo

I printed these sheets out two to a page and cut them in half. Then I went to Walmart and got three storage clipboards (to store the bingo sheets and other print outs), a package of white-erase markers and three “Scotch Display Pocket” which is like a page protector on steroids. Basically it’s glossy and is heavy duty (vs. the page protector which I was afraid might get beat up).

display pocket

The kids would take a sheet of bingo, place it in the display pocket and could write on it to their hearts content and I won’t have to print out a bunch of colored sheets! Woot!

Then a second benefit of the white-erase markers became apparent: the kids could write on their windows and it was easily cleaned off!

{jaw drops open}

When my oldest two were toddlers, my husband came up with the brilliant idea of letting the boys put stickers on the back seat windows to keep them entertained.

Yeah. That was sarcasm. Worst idea ever.

I had thoughts for which I had to repent as I did my best to get those stickers off the windows with Goof-off and razor blades.

So when I realized that the girls were drawing on the windows, I about had a heart attack! But when I looked back around ready to reprimand, I saw Laurie sedately erasing her beautiful drawing leaving behind nothing more than a few ubiquitous finger prints on the windows…that probably pre-dated said drawings.

Now that was brilliant!

If you’re taking dogs along on your trip, (yep, I have two Italian Greyhounds), keep in mind that you can now find dog parks within a matter of moments on your phone GPS unit. This saved me and my dogs both enormous mental stress!

I was able to locate a beautiful park in Iowa City, Iowa, that had a separate area where small dogs could play unmolested by the large dogs whose area shared a common fence.

That common chain-link fence was amazing! It allowed my little dogs to see and bark at the big dogs then race up and down said fence with the big dogs expending lots and lots of energy without becoming the running squeaky toy of every dog in the place!

When you get to somewhere and the weather is nasty, may I suggest a fantastic way to pass the time!

Also at Walmart, I grabbed Elmer’s glue, fancy yarn (I got much fancier than what is pictured), cheap spray adhesive and colored paper to use as a backing (or matting), making them bigger circles than the circles you cut out of travel pictures and/or maps printed of the major cities where we’d been. You can add glitter – the confetti with shapes – or any other decorations you can think of!


Map craft

So far we haven’t had a chance to work on these, but I figure that if nothing else it can be a project for when we get home. Compile all of our pictures, print them out and go to town!

There’s a few ideas from what we’re doing! There’s much more out there than simply the Alphabet Game – always a family favorite.

If you’re inspired by these few little offerings, may I suggest you go to Pinterest and search “travel games.” Prepare to be sucked in for hours at a time!

Have a great summer, y’all! May God bring us all back again this fall from our various wanderings and activities this summer!

Keeping It Real

If you’ve been following our family’s story, you know four things about us:

1. My husband and I separated in 2010 and narrowly missed divorcing. The fact that our marriage survived is nothing short of a miracle of God.

2. My husband and I are “unequally yoked.”

3. Our family worked our way into radical unschooling.

4. Our oldest son decided to attend a traditional school this year – a charter school.

I thought I would give you an update on Ethan. Because of a couple of those four things, our path has been anything but smooth and I hope to encourage – or commiserate(!) – with some reading this blog if your journey be similar at all to mine!

I just firmly believe that many times we, as human being and especially as homeschoolers, tend to hide our warts and exaggerate our medals.

There are some families who really do just excel, and I wish them the best and continued success!

However, that leaves some of us feeling like failures, not sure where to go to get encouragement, because if we admit to struggles to some family members or friends, they will obviously or subtly blame the act of homeschooling itself. Or our family dynamics. Or our personal faults.

It’s scary to be vulnerable. It’s scary to be honest. And yet, I’m going to be both on this blog today.

You see, Ethan is struggling.

The first semester of high school he did great! Got good grades. Enjoyed his classes! He’d finally gotten what he always wanted!


Now reality has set in. He struggles with personality conflicts with two of his teachers — thinks one just isn’t adequately teaching the subject matter.

A couple of days ago, I got a letter from the teacher he doesn’t like, his chemistry teacher. He’d gotten caught cheating.


Failure. My heart convicts me!

How is it that we take our children’s missteps so to heart, as if everyone doesn’t struggle, especially in their teen years?

That day, I met him at school to take him to work, and we ended up in an hour-long conversation. It started with him doing his level-best to push every button that I own, trying to make me angry. When that didn’t work, we moved into a phase of more productive communication.

Just to give you some background, once he got his driver’s license, we’d told him that we expected him to get a job to help pay his own expenses: car insurance and cell phone. He went out and got a job working at Burger King working 20 hours a week.

Working practically every Sabbath.

Another failure felt deeply.

Within the first week or so, I expressed my concern that a $9-an-hour job not jeopardize his education. He seemed more concerned with work and socializing than homework. Then I got the notice that he was failing a class (the teacher who wasn’t teaching right; “no one” was doing well in her class).

He assured me that he’d worked it out with her and turned in missing assignments.

Then came the email about the cheating (the teacher he had personality conflicts with).

The one thing that I wanted him to understand is that we don’t have all the answers. This is the first time we’re dealing with the issues of balancing work and school and his social life. Yes, Thomas – our son from Whitney’s first marriage – had lived with us during his high school, but his mom was perfectly willing to pay his insurance and give him spending money, so he didn’t have to work.

Thomas paid the price – and continues to pay – for that on many different levels once he was “on his own” as an adult…still expecting Mom to help pay for things.

We wanted better for Ethan, and one of the lessons we wanted him to learn is how to be responsible, how to manage and save his money.

But at the same time, our family’s finances did not rise and fall on him paying his portion of the now crazy-expensive insurance premiums or his cell phone. His father makes good money and we could do it; we just don’t believe that we should.

That day, the conversation veered back and forth. At first he denying cheating, blaming me for being forced to work; according to him, he’d been led to believe that if he weren’t working we wouldn’t be able to buy groceries because of the insurance costs {rolls eyes}.

When I proposed that he quit, suddenly he wanted to work, enjoyed having the money. And, once he’d calmed down he admitted that yes, in fact, he did cheat, but “everyone in that class does it.”

…{takes a deep breath and lets it out}…

This son of ours is an oldest child in every sense of the word.

I don’t know, perhaps your firstborns are responsible, willing to listen to advice, thoughtful and careful about the decisions they make. If so, you are blessed indeed!

I am the youngest child, and while I did my share of stupid things as a kid, I was still just not even a blip on my parent’s radar. I didn’t give them any cause to worry about my decisions (what they didn’t know couldn’t concern them, and I shielded them from many of my shenanigans). I never broke curfew. I listened and many times heeded their advice on grown-up issues.

So, I don’t understand this innate drive to go contrary to conventional wisdom! This need to make every mistake and jump off every cliff just to learn his own lessons! Why go SPLAT when you can observe and talk to those who have, and learn from their mistakes?

It has seemed like every single thing that I ever wanted that kid to do, he would subtly go the opposite direction. Sometimes not so subtly. While we have a really close relationship, there are times when I feel like I have very little chance to make a difference for him. He won’t let me.

He’s picked up every subtle, and not-so-subtle, cue about what I want him to do, and gone off in some other direction.

I guess that brings me around to this question, the question that probably haunts many of you.

What to do in the face of it?

I don’t know what you’ll do, but based on many conversations with my sister, who was the oldest, and her daughter, also an oldest, I am convicted that the only thing I can do is keep loving my son. Draw boundaries where I need to, but trying to “force” him to do anything – manipulate him into doing anything – will, in the end, drive him further away.

What I need to do more than anything is to show him that regardless of his decisions, regardless of his mistakes, regardless of whether I agree with any of the above, I love him and will be his safe place.

He’s 17 years old now. If I haven’t taught him my values (remember, I have a husband who doesn’t share them) and even more so lived them, then it’s way too late to try and force them on him.

And so, I do my best. Some days failing, some days succeeding. But the only hope I have is to show him God — the Father in the Prodigal Son parable who allows the son to make his mistakes, to go completely contrary to what he’s been taught, and who still loves, accepts, and welcomes his son back.

Hopefully my son won’t go completely away from “home.”

But in the end, if I don’t show my son that “religion” and God are all about relationship, then I’ve experienced the ultimate failure. I don’t want for him a shell of observance and rules. I don’t want an empty and dry heart sitting in a pew, following every jot and tittle. I would prefer a heart that has learned life lessons the hard way and been drawn back to a loving God to be in a living relationship.

And so, I man the oars and fight the fight.

To be continued!