The Homeschool Issue


I read this article with interest this morning. While this court case is, in my opinion, more about divorce than homeschool, the precedence it sets is disturbing to me. I’d love to hear how you weigh in on the matter. I really have no opinion about homeschooling myself. I’ve seen it done well and I’ve seen it done in ignorance but we can say the same about traditional school.

We sent our children to a private religious school and found that by the third grade they were 1.5 years behind in their learning. Basically the fees we paid were to ensure that our kids were at the right school for social reasons. Thankfully, with public school and special tutoring we were able to get them back on track and now they are scoring well above their grade level. A good education and a bad one can happen anywhere.

I have never considered homeschool simply because I am not patient, nor do I feel equipped or that I have a home set up for homeschooling. My kids probably are breathing a sigh of relief for that. I admire parents who can do this for their child. All this being said, I do have serious doubts about the un-school group. Maybe because I just don’t get it.

Anyway here is the article!

Life Lessons

Written By Regina Brett, 53 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio (written in 2006)

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolled over to 50 in August, so here is the column once more:”
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good..
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God.. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about..
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ”In five years, will this matter?”.
26. Always choose life.
27. Forgive everyone everything.
28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
29.. Time heals almost everything.. Give time, time.
30. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
31. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
32. Believe in miracles.
33. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
34. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
35. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
36. Your children get only one childhood.
37. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
38. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
39. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back..
40. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
41. The best is yet to come.
42. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
43. Yield.
44. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
(don’t know what #45 is!!!)

Eating Poison

I was running errands for the church yesterday and I got a chance to listen to an hour of uninterrupted Dr. Laura on the radio. A mother called in to ask for advice with her children. She said that her teens hadn’t learned a life of responsibility. Dr. Laura asked what she thought the problem was and the mom said she gave them everything without asking for anything in return. Now, they didn’t want to hold their end of the bargain. Oh, I thought, the old you never value what you don’t earn philosophy is true.

The frustrated mom said she’d asked her 19 year-old to move out. Dr. Laura seemed to think this was fine as she asked the mother if she was still giving financial support. The mom sighed and said, she knew she had to stop. Dr. Laura sounded discouraged and said the mother was in essence feeding her child poison. Oh, I thought, so you move your child out but continue to pay the bills so, what does that do?

I listened intently and really got a visual for this. While we as parents have a responsibility to raise independent, respectful, productive citizens of the planet many of us, through overindulgence in many areas, we feed our children poison. It was sad.

I watch a young mom in our church as she struggles with her grade school child. I see her really trying to do the right things and get her child on track. I also see that she is met with opposition by well-meaning people. I try to encourage her and help her in her parenting as much as I can. I see her effort and her exasperation as she takes a deep breath, gets up and goes for it on a daily basis. She is working hard to feed her child the right stuff. Lord, I pray, let it work Lord. Let it work!

Sometimes doing the right thing is hard. It’s not popular in our society. I heard a mom say, “Kids aren’t afraid of their father’s disappointed looks anymore.” I remember wanting more than anything to please my father. Only, the problem is that as the bible says, there are many teachers but not many fathers.

After Dr. Laura’s comment about feeding your children poison, I sat back and realized that we do this in so many ways. When we don’t hold them to a basic standard of living. My husband flips out when he hears fathers who allow their daughters boyfriends to spend the night. He says to me, “Who does that? Come use my daughter. She’s free, hey we’ll even feed you!” It drives him crazy.

My child was caught doing something they had been forbidden to do last week. Of course their first response was to lie/deny. Their second response was to say they didn’t do it and blame “a friend” for the issue. Finally it was to confess and blame us for our “stupid rules”. Only we opted not to feed poison. We offered the rich meal of consequence. Was there hell to pay with the kid? Sure! Absolutely! Honestly, though as followers of Christ it is our job literally to get the HELL out of our kids life by whatever method that takes. And no I don’t mean leave the kid alone. I mean literally get HELL out of their life.

Feeding them poison can be in not giving them a bedtime so that they get enough sleep and can do well in school. Feeding them poison can be by allowing them to be couch potatoes who battle obesity. Feeding them poison can be not giving nutritious meals. Feeding them poison can be through our hateful behavior or being too busy to hang out with them. Feeding them poison can be by overcompensating for our guilt.

So while Dr. Laura was talking to this woman about how to stop financially supporting their child, I saw a bigger picture. One that explains how we get to where this mom is. Don’t let this be us Lord! Please, don’t let this be us!

Street Children


During the rebuilding of our church’s building after the fire, we are leasing a store front. Each day there are three boys who play in the parking lot, in the dumpsters, running down the sidewalks, annoying the other offices in our shopping center. They run into our office each time they pass by, “We came for candy and Coke”, they say. Each day that they come by, we give them candy but we don’t drink Coke often so all we have is water which is disappointing to them and they decline.

They generally wreak havoc in the office and then go on to the next office. Today though was different. I was working in what is now the sanctuary. They had found a shopping cart and they were taking turns getting in the cart and running as fast as they could go, before letting the cart go as it ran into cars, windows etc… They got in trouble so they had to let that activity go and they were running around looking for something to get into.

I leave the sanctuary to get a stapler from the office and as I was walking out of the office, I hear the drums and they boys screaming in the sanctuary. I lock up the office and run next door. The scene went like this:

“HANG ON! DON’T RUN! SIT DOWN RIGHT NOW!” This is my best mom voice!
All three of the boys stop dead in their tracks and sit down.
“Now, I’m calling the police because you guys are trespassing.”
Three boys begin to look really scared.
“Too bad! You guys need to learn a lesson. You can’t just run into places and do whatever you want! There are a lot of expensive things in here and you can’t just go banging on stuff without permission. You have to learn to respect stuff and you have to learn manners.”
A couple of the boys begin to get teary.
“So, here’s the deal I’m willing to make. You have to promise never to do this again. You all can come and play drums and stuff but you have to ask first and you have to be supervised. If you do this again, I really will call the police. Got it?”
“Yes! Thanks! So we can play the drums if we ask permission first?”
“Yes. You can play with permission and with supervision.”
“Okay, and we’ll walk Lulu if you want.”
“No, that’s fine. I want you guys to have stuff to do but we have to have some ground rules. So let me show you how to play the instruments and what you can mess with and what you can’t touch.”
“Do you think we can be in the band?”
“When you’re in 7th grade you can.”
“They’ll let us? Are you really sure?”
“Yes, they’ll let you be in the youth band. I’m really sure. Just use your manners in the house of God.”

In about 15 minutes they were trying to coordinate a song and trying to drum to a beat. The song? We Will Rock You by Queen.

I know the story of two of these boys. Their moms are stay at home moms and on drugs. The third boy lives with his grandparents but I’m unsure about where his parents are. They basically fend for themselves and no one ever comes to check on them. Ever. They eat whatever we have around the offices. They are generally unclean and unkempt and they have gutter mouths, but you know what? They are little boys. These aren’t big kids. The oldest one is a third grader. Hopefully today we struck a deal. I needed to get their attention and I needed to give them a place to go. You know something? After we made rules, they were sweet. Boys nevertheless, meaning they ran around, they yelled and they played. I wish their parents could see that with some boundaries, care, love and concern they’d have some really great future men to lead our country.

He Is Rich And Powerful

This is the fifth installment in a series, the fourth is here.

Silvio Berlusconi  Image by © George Steinmetz/Corbis
Silvio Berlusconi Image by © George Steinmetz/Corbis

The Lord owns everything and is the Almighty, He is rich and powerful. When it comes to choosing a man for your life is that a prerequisite? The world says that in the monetary sense it is, but I believe rich and powerful is not necessarily about money. I believe it’s important that a man have a passion for his work. He has a powerful sense of who he is and how to command those things that aren’t as if they were. Let me explain.

God is rich in mercy. More than money you are going to need this in a man. The man who never offers clemency, kindness or forgiveness is not for you. Imagine doing or saying something stupid and the punitive punishment of deciding he isn’t going to talk to you for several days. A man who is always out to punish is not a man in which I want to dedicate my life. Instead a man whose heart is like God’s sees the mistake and realizes it was a mistake. It’s not a weakness not to punish, in fact, punishment is easier, mercy is hard because it allows you your will and doesn’t demand it’s own.

God is rich in compassion. He hurts when you hurt. He has an innate sense of your pain and desires to help you. A man without compassion is one in which his life is too busy to see a person in pain. He is too self-absorbed to help you with your problems. I don’t really see living a life with a man who can see the pain of others and has a failure to respond. It shows me that in times of trial he won’t be much help to me.

God is rich in love. I know I don’t have to explain this one. The man who fails to see the beauty of the life within you, isn’t for you. The man who is not content will always strive for something more and that includes love.

I think you are getting the picture of a rich God. He is both rich in resources and rich in the giving of himself to help you. While in our humanity we can’t be perfect, these are basics for living a fulfilled life. Look at these things carefully because a pocketbook will not sustain you emotionally and eventually you’ll need more than the superficial.

God is powerful. He is able to do whatever he desires to do. I want you to notice something though. This power has never been abused. Powerful yes, abusive never. Power is not brute force. Power is being able and capable of doing anything he sets his mind to do.

When I was a little girl I thought my daddy was the most powerful man in the universe. What made him so to me? Back then it was his size and my little hand in his felt protected. I noticed that he was charming and could captivate a crowd. Plus, when he came home the whole house was happy. Yes! Daddy’s home. Daddy had the power to turn negative to positive. Now I see the other parts of what made me feel he was powerful. He could come home and cook dinner when my mom had to work late. He could sit on the floor and play dolls, he could learn to fly a plane and put a band-aid on. He never taught me that there were male jobs and females jobs. There were only jobs that needed capable people. Power is the ability to get things done no matter what they are and regardless of your position. No job should be beneath anyone. It’s also the ability to realize when you are not the one for the job! God is rich and powerful. Take your time to find someone like him.

Kingdom Kidz

Last weekend we had Kidz Day at church. It was a hot summer day and the water slide and bounce house were a big success!

The line to sign up and get your goody bag with prizes was longer than expected!

The children waited patiently for their turn to slide!

Even the high school kids got in the mix with some wrestling and horseplay.

Yes Vikki, that's your Robert!
Yes Vikki, that's your Robert!

Over 200 hot dogs and chip plates were served! Fun was had by all and even when it seemed a little scary, Angie was not deterred by getting back on!

On this day, Oasis was a place of refreshing and fun for the entire community! A great big thanks to Gesia Valencia our Children’s Director and all of our volunteers who made this day possible!

Taking Back Our City


Psalm 17:4 I’m not trying to get my way in the world’s way. I’m trying to get your way, your Word’s way. 5 I’m staying on your trail; I’m putting one foot In front of the other. I’m not giving up. 6 I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer. So – answer! bend your ear! listen sharp! 7 Paint grace-graffiti on the fences; take in your frightened children who Are running from the neighborhood bullies straight to you. “The Message”

Each month a small group from Oasis goes out to combat the graffiti in the city. Each month we are given pages of addresses of buildings that have been tagged. Most are gang symbols and names and they make our city look terrible. This month our task was a wall that ran two blocks. As you can see, this isn’t artwork, but merely gang symbols that are crossed out and replaced with more gang symbols. There was a lot to paint and this was only one place on a list of many.

Adrian Jurado one of our church elders owns AJ Painting, a local company, so he came out to help us.

We have a lot of fun out there and this time was no exception. A lot of heavy topics of conversation are on our minds as we paint. This month it was the San Francisco 49ers line up (a godly team, I might add) vs the Oakland Raiders line up (there’s a little sin in each of our lives).

Pretty soon a good deal of one of the walls is painted. We paint God’s grace-graffiti on the wall as we clean up our city and make it a place we can be proud of again.

Thanks to our volunteers and thanks to our city who allows the privilege of service!

I Have A Secret

Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone but I have a secret thing I do each Sunday night that no one can know about. It would ruin my pristine image. I don’t know what the fascination is, well, actually I do know. Do you want to know what it is? I don’t think it does anything for my “cool factor” but I am going to confess, since it’s good for the soul. Every Sunday night at 9:00 when no one is looking I watch Gene Simmons Family Jewels. My daughter Casey, gasps and says she can’t believe I watch it and says that makes me a nerd but I like it!

I wasn’t raised as a follower of Christ so my very first concert in sixth grade was a KISS concert, Cheap Trick was the warm-up band and it was at the LA Coliseum. My dad took me and I was thrilled to go I wanted to join the KISS army and rock and roll all night and party everyday, even though at that age I wasn’t quite sure what that meant and I knew my parents probably wouldn’t let me anyway. They were my favorite band I just knew that underneath all that makeup Paul Stanley was the cutest one (uh, not so sure now). So to say that I don’t know the KISS songs or to pretend that I am so transformed would be untrue. It’s nostalgia. And to counter the nerd factor of my confession, I haven’t yet to this day heard a KISS song transformed to elevator music. So there!

The show is funny because Gene Simmons lives anything but the rocker lifestyle I imagined at all. He is a workaholic who lives in a beautiful house (the parquet floors are to die for) with a normal family (okay, in today’s society normal not Christian normal) and he talks to his dog and loves his mother. He is savvy business man who is always making deals and yet he has a soft spot in his heart for his family. I cried when he visited the Vet Hospital and talked to the soldiers who were there being treated, and laughed out loud when he tried to do Marine training. I watched through my hands at his plastic surgery and smirked at his recovery. Last Sunday was the season finale. In that episode his 16 year-old daughter had a sleepover, got an emergency call from a friend and stole the family car to go get her. Gene finds out and sets out to find her. It struck me funny as just the night before I had asked my husband, “Where are the fathers? We need dads to stand up for their daughters.” I found one. They may call him demon but he shows a lot more godly principles than a lot of us Christians out there. He doesn’t drink or smoke nor does he promote it. Plus, he loves his dog Skippy who looks a lot like Lu!

In a world full of scandalous behavior and bad examples, I have to say this family is doing well. We see a Hollywood family who looks very normal. So today, I am confessing that I am a Gene Simmons Family Jewel fan. I am not, however, like his number one fan AT ALL. I saw that episode. Now that guy was a total nerd.

Who Told You That

miss mariana lee
miss mariana lee

On the eve of Pastor Doug’s 40th birthday he sat quietly bummed. I thought it was about age but instead he said, “I had a pastor tell me once that if you didn’t have a big church by the time you were 40, you failed and weren’t gonna have one.” I was wondering where this came from because this had never been his line of thinking. He had never felt it was about numbers. I sat beside him and in a brilliant moment of clarity and wisdom, I answered, “Who told you that, because I know that we, you and I, only receive the word of the Lord and God did not say that. What you have received was not God speaking.”

Be careful to receive only the word of the Lord. God tells you that you can. God tells you that you will. God tells you that all things are possible. So whose words do you receive? Who told you that you’d never buy a house? Who told you that your marriage would never be restored? Who told you that you couldn’t get that promotion? Because I am blogging here today to tell you that God never said that.

Remember the cartoon of the angel and the devil sitting on your shoulder and one would tell you to do good things and the other would tell you not to worry about it? Well, it may have been a cartoon but it’s real. There is a God who wants you to succeed in life and there is an enemy of your soul who tries to keep you from trying. The battle is held in your mind as to which one you are going to believe.

Then there are words spoken by people are often ingested and believed both positive and negative. Those words shape our lives when we decide that they are true about us. Those thoughts then become actions and actions shape our lives as they lead us down paths that are either right or wrong for us. What needs to happen is you have to have a sense of who you are and what your purpose is and a plan on how you will fulfill that purpose.

So the task before you is to determine which words are just idle words, in other words, words that don’t define you at all and are just merely a belief of the person speaking and which ones are words to live by. Notice that I didn’t write only accept the positive statements about you, there are some negative things that have been said that are true as well. You have to know the truth about yourself for in that truth will lie freedom. Many of the things that you are doing today and the way that you feel about yourself is not even close to being true about you! So ask yourself, who told you that? Why did you believe it? Now that you know it might not be true how you can you overcome it? What can you change today to undo the damage it caused?

Dogs Eat Vomit

Proverbs 26:11As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

As often is the case people like to complain about their situation but few are willing to find solution. It seems as though we’d rather return to our vomit than eat the food the King has set before us. So why do we do it? In some sort of bizarre way we find it easier than the work the solution will take.

Vomit although gross is familiar. We all know that person who refuses to try new food. They eat a steady diet of comfort, things that are safe. Doing things the same way feels like the safe way. Whatever you say about the human condition we are a creature of habit who doesn’t like change. Change is hard for us.

Complaining about our situation though is not hard for us. We are great complainers but why don’t we change? Change takes courage. Change takes coming up with a different plan and a step out into the unknown. Change is not safe.

I remember once, years ago, each week during our prayer time a man kept asking for prayer for a new job. The new job was just not coming his way and I kept asking God, why a new job wasn’t coming? I mean, we are all praying what is the deal? The following week, when it came time to pray for the specific needs of everyone, there he once again asked for prayer for a new job. I asked how many resumes and applications he’d sent out that week and where he was applying. He responded “none”. I said, then I don’t feel like praying for a new job because it’s not going to fall out of the sky. Yes, everyone gasped and thought the response was harsh but you know what? Why waste time? I mean here was a man who returned to his own vomit week after week expecting for it to taste differently and being bummed out that it was the same ‘ol meal.

Want a different result in your life? Then quit going back to the vomit and head instead in a new direction.