My Struggle with Homeschool and Religion

burrowing owl 1 - WM2

Judgy much???

When we switched our children to a non-traditional schooling approach a few months ago, I understood fully that faith would be incorporated into some of their new classes. Prayer is no stranger in our home, and I am comfortable with my spiritual life. Given that I wanted our children to have greater familiarity with the Bible and its historical context, I actually looked forward to the addition of this into their regular curriculum. However I was worried, too. I wanted my concerns to be inconsequential, but that hasn’t felt true so far.

My issue is akin to this – If Jesus was to have a party, I feel certain that everyone in attendance range would get an invite. Being Jesus, He would already know that several of those peeps would decline, some would RSVP with bogus forgotten alternate plan excuses, and others would just straight up ghost the whole gig. But the door would have been open to them all anyway. Whether or not they ultimately decided to take it, He would have offered them a seat at the table. But that’s not necessarily how it works here.

In order to participate in the bulk of the homeschool co-ops that I have found or even to be a part of the social or educational clubs and groups for homeschoolers in our area, you are typically required to certify in writing that you are a Christian and that you follow the specific beliefs of that group. If you can’t or won’t do this, your family cannot participate or be a part of the community. The real irony of my issue is that we are Christians. My children have been baptized and all are up to date on their sacraments (If you aren’t familiar with those, just think of them as the big beefy spiritual shot requirements of the Catholic world). My faith isn’t in question when it comes to these assertions. However I do have a significant questions with regard to the exclusion of non-Christian families from the classrooms and events. Is this a Christian approach? Is this what Jesus would have done?

I completely understand the desire to filter out the insane crapfest of nonsense happening  around us all. It’s crazy out there. On a good day, social media is a total shit-show. On most of the others, it’s a frickin’ nightmare. People behave horrifically, and they prove time and time again why one should take time away from those wine glasses before tapping on one’s keyboard. In public school, the behavior that is permitted is atrocious and the administrators and teachers can’t do a single thing about it. The overt sexuality displayed by countless tweenagers is shocking, and the pervasiveness of drugs and alcohol is terrifying. Parenting is a scary stuff man, and the idea of being a child in today’s world chills me to my core.

I get it. Seriously. I do.

But does that justify shutting the doors on everyone else who happens to have a different set of beliefs in that moment? Does prohibiting a Jewish or Hindu child from sharing a seat at the table align with the way Jesus interacted with others throughout His life?

My very favorite part of the epic 1984 movie ‘Ghostbusters’ is when Winston says, “Hey, Ray, do you believe in God?” Ray responds, “Never met him.” And then Winston follows with these beautifully profound words, “Well, I do, and I love Jesus’s style.”

The whole movie is a damn funny classic, but this little piece of their conversation has always stuck with me on a completely different level. Even if someone didn’t follow Christianity, could they really argue with Jesus’s style or His approach toward humanity? Could anyone dismiss the Truth of His teachings of kindness, hope, forgiveness, and acceptance? And seeing the beauty and wisdom of those lessons, could we in good conscience turn someone away without even offering them a seat at the table if it was available?

Maybe someone doesn’t believe in Jesus in that moment. But what if allowing that same person to have an opportunity to hear those words and see that faith in action becomes the moment that reveals the Truth of it all? If we simply refuse to open the door, the opportunity to share and grow is lost.

This dynamic genuinely saddens me. As parents, my husband and I have spent years teaching our children the importance of being accepting toward others. I can’t fathom deliberately telling them to avoid or exclude others if their faith or sexual orientation is not in alignment with their own. It contradicts everything I was raised to believe and all that we have conveyed to our kids. But I feel like this is what we are being asked to assert.

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care if you are Christian, Jewish, Burning Man attendee, or anything else, you can hit the road if you are a serious jerk with serious jerk tendencies. But if you are Christian, Jewish, Burning Man attendee or anything else and you also happen to be a good person with non-jerk kids, your family will always be welcomed to our table when we have chairs to share. Expect it to be a raggedy scene with lots of noisy debate going on, but we’re comfortable with conversation and love learning different perspectives even when we disagree. It may not be the party you want to attend, but you’ll always get the invite anyway.

What do you think? Is exclusion for the sake of protecting your child a valid tact to take? I would genuinely appreciate your perspective and feedback on this. Please note that I will delete your comments without response or apology if you get ugly or cray-cray. I see enough of that on Facebook and have no interest in watching that unfold here, too.  😉

Best wishes to all.  Jo

A Million to One

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

My daughter has been asking me to write a book that she could then illustrate. I have half a dozen book ideas bouncing around my brain, but poems feel more like her style. I’m looking forward to seeing the fun collection my little artist and I can create together. Here’s the first poem that I am comfortable sharing. These are aimed at kids, but there are winks for adults, too. I just started these today, so the artwork is still in progress. ☺️

A MILLION TO ONE

Some people will tell you,

Don’t bother to start.

A million to one chance

That you’ll get the part.

Don’t waste your time writing.

Just put down that pen.

Don’t spend your years wishing

For dreams with no end.

Set free all of your hopes.

Just let each one go.

There’s no point in trying.

Stick with status quo.

But don’t you dare listen.

It’s your path to walk.

Their words have no power.

It’s only just talk.

Real magic can happen

If you join the dance,

‘Cause no matter the odds,

There’s always a chance!

– Jo Price

Never forget that impossible is not the same as improbable. Even the most unlikely of odds still means that it can happen. Aim for greatness and follow your dreams. Always. ❤️

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

Spreading Your Wings

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

I fall down when I walk. All. The. Time. Either my feet are mysteriously surrounded by unusually dense air or there is some kind of invisible trip wire system perpetually in my midst. These are the only viable possibilities as there appear to be no other culprits for my non-existent level of grace. Yes – having the inability to walk normally is yet another fabulous piece of the rockstar package that is Jo.

Given that the whole “one foot in front of the other” gig has proven to be a strangely complicated task for me, the idea of spreading my wings to give the wind a try is more than a little daunting. Admittedly I’m speaking metaphorically here, but I fall flat on my face in the figurative walk of life, too.

I worry about failure. About rejection. About judgement. I’m afraid that my time and effort will be wasted. That my words will fall flat. That I will flop. That I will crash.

These concerns afflict countless people. We focus heavily on endless negative “what if” scenarios that we conjure in our minds. Taking it a step further, let’s actually imagine what would happen if those worrisome maybes actually did turn into realities?

In the vast majority of cases, the world would keep turning, and life would go on anyway. Our personal anxiety or embarrassment would be a mere blip on other people’s radars and would quickly be forgotten. In the meantime, we would likely learn a lesson or two (or five), and we would then be that much wiser when taking a revised approach in another attempt down the road.

So what’s your worst case scenario? What if it (whatever your “it” might be) doesn’t work out the way you hope? What if you don’t succeed? Can you keep going? Does life go on for the rest of the world?

If we can say yes to those questions, (and in the universe of chasing your dreams, we almost always can), then we are our own obstacle.

You must overcome your fear of falling if you ever want to soar. Maybe we will find ourselves flopping back to the ground if we attempt to fly, but we definitely won’t be able to rise up if we aren’t even willing to try.

If you fall, you fall. But then you get up, you keep going, and you never ever stop trying.

Don’t allow fear to chain you down or keep you from sharing the beautiful gifts you were given. We are compelled to spread our wings for a reason, whatever those wings may be.

It’s time to release the fear, look to the skies, and give those divine beauties a run. ❤️

Big hugs to you all. Jo

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

Stop Waiting for Heaven

Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

I am not one to push my faith on anyone. Simply put, it’s not my style. Furthermore, I believe that we are all given a chance to have our own journey and that includes our walks (stumbles / face-splats) of faith.

However I have no reticence about sharing my belief that you do not have to wait for heaven to experience it. My halo has yet to exit the angelic assembly line nor have all those harp lessons paid off to date (probably because I never attended or signed up for any). But I know when I’m in a moment that is so surreal and spectacular that I can sense I beautiful imprint of that moment on my soul.

This can happen when I see something extremely special to me like watching my husband and children walk onto the same little island that I visited as a child and that my father visited when he was young. More often than not, it will happen in the most insignificant and unlikely of times. Being together for a low rent meal. Laughing hysterically during family game day. Being collectively thrilled at watching the raccoons squabble over peanuts outside our window at night.

It’s the smallest of the small stuff, but the magic is immeasurably great. I want to bottle up those feelings so I can access them whenever I forget. And I do forget. Constantly. By the hour kind of constantly. Probably more often than that.

But when I get out of my way and can see the beauty of the moment, I can recognize that it’s there all the time. Clearly I don’t have the full deets on what will happen once I discard this sweet meat suit o’ mine, but I sincerely believe that any version of heaven would have to incorporate these moments of tremendous wonder and feelings of boundless love.

Feel free to plan to take up permanent residence in heaven after you are gone. Just don’t forget to notice the divine perfection that is all around you while you are here, too. You don’t have to live a life of perfection to be able to find the celestial magnificence that fills every corner of our existence. I’m a prime example of utter imperfection in action yet moments of paradise reveal themselves every day nonetheless.

Notice them. Appreciate them. Allow them to remind you if the spectacular soul who you truly are. And if along the way you do happen to find a way to bottle them up, please drop me a line. We could all use a little more Heaven ready and waiting in the wings. 😇🐆

Much love to you.

Jo

Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

A Snowball’s Chance – Christmas Magic

Fulshear Run snow

My absence from writing has been a frustrating consequence of the incessant activities consuming me over the past couple of weeks.  We have been moving into a new home, prepping the former home for showings post-move, unpacking unpacking unpacking, and dealing with the countless other realities that come with working, parenting, and holiday-ing.  I have wacky stories to go with each of those items, but the current skinny is this – I’m just too darn tired to elaborate tonight.  To put it simply, the past few weeks have been extremely taxing both emotionally and physically.  I have been worn paper-thin, and it has seemed as though I have been unable to see the light behind the clouds.

But then came the snow.  The spectacularly beautiful and impossible snow.

When you live in the Houston area, Christmas weather typically means something below 80 degrees hopefully.  A few days ago, temperatures were actually above those levels.  Christmastime in tank tops and shorts – bleh – I loathe that.  But then there was a cold front.  A fantastically wonderful freeze your bum and your toes kind of cold front.  And with it came sheer magic!

As tired as I was, I stayed up most of that night watching the snow fall out my bedroom window.  It was too beautiful and rare, and I refused to miss it.  I woke my children up before the sun to make sure that we would have time to play in it before we had to head to school and work.  In truth I really wanted the whole family to play hooky all day, but it just wasn’t possible.  No matter.  We still found time to completely freeze our toes off and have a total blast.  It was utterly unexpected, incredibly special, and definitely a day for the memory books.

Seeing our new backyard transformed into a true winter wonderland felt like a refresher for my soul.  It reminded me that unexpected and wonderful magic is always possible.  We may feel like we are trapped in a situation we can’t change, but the truth is that we don’t know what spectacular realities are right around the corner.

Although I’m still exhausted to my core, I can sense the light behind the clouds peeking through once more.  At a minimum, I finally located the moving box that held the bulk of my underwear, so that seems like a good baseline for a turnaround.  If God can send loads of snow and undies my way in the same weekend, I’m hopeful that the miracle train is running in full steam and taking care of all of the things that I can’t.  I pray that my spirits will ascend in turn and that I will have the clarity to honor the beauty of this time.

I pray that you feel the magic of this season as well darling friends.  No matter what you believe, it truly is out there for all of us.  Sending prayers for your happiness and health now and always.

In love and light – Joanna

 
Ascend

Have Faith in Yourself – Remove the Mask

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I often tell my children that no one gives as much thought to their insecurities as they do. No other people are panicking about a blemish on someone else’s face. Nobody else stresses if another person gets a stain on their shirt during the day. Those moments of imperfection make my children feel like they are under the magnifying glass of their peers, but the reality is that those incidences are quickly replaced by alternate distractions and concerns of other people. I tell my kids all of this, and I remind them that no one is perfect. We all have embarrassing stuff, and we all carry insecurities. They don’t have to hide who they are ever. It’s solid mom advice, and I genuinely believe those words. But do I heed this wisdom in my own life?

The really short answer is no. The still short but not quite as short as the latter answer answer is not entirely, but I’m working very hard to change that. Putting my own challenges out there for public review isn’t the easiest task for me. Frankly, it’s extremely difficult, but I believe that it’s important. We share our lives with each other, and we should never feel isolated in our struggles. I have survived dark days, and I want others who are hurting to know that they aren’t the only ones to have ever felt that way.

To be abundantly clear, I don’t believe that being honest about yourself means that you have to share every heavy detail of your existence. Not at all. I also recognize that we reveal different parts of ourselves to various groups of people in our lives. But that is about discretion, not dishonesty about who we really are.

If you can’t own the reality that your life is not perfect, you aren’t alone. Sometimes I feel like I am walking around in a giant suburban masquerade ball. Fancy clothes and jewelry. Made up faces and unnaturally wide smiles. Peals of raucous laughter and endless bottles of wine always a-flowin’.

Maybe balls aren’t your style. Perhaps you would prefer the idea that we are all playing a giant game of strip poker. If you don’t play your hand correctly, you may find yourself peeling off those thin layers of protection that hide all of your unmentionables. Then again, if you aren’t into balls, strip poker is probably an even worse scenario for you, so back to the masquerade analogy we go.

We all wear masks. They shield others from seeing what is really underneath. Removing the mask would leave us exposed. The fairy tale would vanish, and a normal human would be revealed. The facade of perfection would vanish.

The problem with masks is that they aren’t really part of us. They may serve to shield us at times, but the clock will strike twelve and all of our coaches will turn back into pumpkins eventually.

We all have blemishes – imperfect marriages, parenting problems, body image issues, health challenges. We all have stains – choices that you shouldn’t have made, friendships that you lost, jobs that didn’t work out, addiction, mistakes. Everyone has experienced some version of that. If anyone needs you to be the kind of person who doesn’t have that kind of reality in their life, recognize that they are wearing a serious mask as well.

We have a path, and we are here to learn how to walk it. It wouldn’t be much of an experience if we arrived on the scene, already knew everything, didn’t have any ups or downs, and then left the planet again. What would be the point of that journey?

Choose to find the learning opportunities in your experiences. Know that you are allowed to be perfectly imperfect. Do good and be well as often as you can. Forgive yourself whenever that doesn’t happen as planned, and tackle the good / well dynamic once more with the next step you take.

And do all of that with honesty. Own who you are. It’s alright for others to know that you move to your own beat and that sometimes you miss a step (or if you are cool and graceful like me, you fall flat on your face). I can assure you that everyone else stumbles, too.

You don’t have to pretend to be someone else. You may need to work on your choices – we all do – but you must remember that you are an intentional and important part of the divine plan. You are a stunning piece of this beautiful design, and you are where you should be right now. If another person doesn’t get that, or more accurately, if they don’t get you, set their expectations free.

Your true light lies cloaked beneath those false layers. Release the fear of judgement and of not being accepted as you are. Have faith in yourself. Remove the mask, and reveal the raw beauty that lies within you.

Love and light always – Joanna

 

Cloaked

Brave

Take Flight

Stepping out of your comfort zone is disconcerting for anyone. If it wasn’t, we would call it walking. But leaving that place of emotional security while also anticipating that every person in your life will understand your perspective is not simply unsettling. It is unrealistic.

Very few people have the ability to openly embrace change. Even fewer have the capacity to actively seek it. When they see someone in their inner circle bucking the system, it rankles them and scratches their own fears to the surface.

While I am displeased with this admission, the raw truth is that I can most certainly be one of those inflexible and easily rankled buzzkills of a human. Seeing someone I care about do something that doesn’t fit their normal pattern concerns me. I take a marathon sprint down the mental worry path and start listing various possible barriers to their success (hopefully these thoughts occur via my “excessive and overthinking” inner voice but unfortunately the ponderings frequently happen through my “excessive and needs to shut up immediately” outer voice).

It’s not that I don’t want the people whom I care about to do well.  That’s not it at all.  I absolutely want them to be successful. However my desire to protect that person from any harm becomes entangled with my own insecurities, hurts, and memories of past disappointments (a.k.a. My Issues and Me – The Less Sexy Shades of MoJo).

My focus on any potential negative outcomes shadows my ability to recognize the other equally possible positive outcomes. I worry about their chance of failure, but in doing this, I miss the reality that their willingness to get on the playing field at all means that they are already taking part in the game. Thankfully I almost always manage to get on board eventually. I just need time to realize (once more) that my self-imposed limitations need not apply to anyone else’s hopes and dreams.

So when the tables turn and this happens to me – when I say that I want to venture further away from my own comfort zone and I find myself feeling the sting from a response that pushes me to stay with the status quo – I recognize the source of that other person’s reaction. I am reminded once more that my belief in myself cannot be diminished by another person’s insecurities.

image000000_65No one in this world has the right to deny you your hopes and dreams. No one. And if they are doing that, it is only happening because you are handing them that power. Don’t ever sacrifice your light to someone else’s fear.

Always dream, and when you do, always dream fantastically big.

This is your journey, and there are endless choices you can make. Just be sure that the ones you select are truly yours.

We may not always succeed with every attempt that we make, but we will never even get the chance to find out what we can achieve if we continually refuse to try. Don’t allow the words of another to weigh you down.

We each have something wonderfully unique and wildly special within us. When you feel like you are stepping into the zone and that you are kindling the spark within you, that is the divinity of your soul cheering you on.

Listen to that voice. Follow that feeling. Release the fears, find your wings, and take flight.

Love and light always – Joanna

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***Photos in this post were taken from my airplane window while traveling to San Diego for work this week.

Windows

Deny

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