My Computer Hates Me

It sits there, white screen of death, mocking me. Daring me to try fixing it again. Well not me, but my husband, who loves me ever so much as to put up with such requests.

It knows me well.

Coming from a Mennonite background, I just can’t bear the thought of throwing out anything that may just have a tiny bit of life still left in it. If I can sell it, yes, then I have no issue parting with my junk, because who doesn’t like to trade junk for cash?!? Or give it to someone in need, even better! Self help…sure!

But this hellish computer isn’t sellable. Or gift-able. It is garbage. A $2000 piece of iMac garbage.

It still looks brand new but the face itself hides the disaster within. I know full well that it fries it’s own hard drives within 6 months of replacing them.

The computer was a lemon when we got it. A toss away from a friend who wisely went on to a new and better relationship.

But being who I am. Could. Not. Chuck. Mr. FryMac.

My husband is a near genius when it comes to fixing technology. So with a hairdryer and some other tools he took the cursed thing apart and melted parts together, moved pieces around (I’m sure this description is precisely accurate by the way). And VOILA! I had me a brand new looking iMac.

A new hard drive was ordered and the thing worked beautifully for 2 full years. And then one day.

GONE!

All my writing, my saved files and documents!!! (thank goodness photos are in the “cloud”)

Most people would shrug and say at least I got two more years out of it… Not me!

I insisted that he fix it again (at which point he looked at me like I was from another plant and told me that it would just do this again)… to which I, knowing nothing about computers but fully believing in miracles, replied that surely Mr. FryMac would last three years this time.

So my ever patient husband shook his head and fixed it one more time telling me that he wouldn’t do it again. Oh and he recovered all my files. Because he’s amazing.

Now, four months later (practically to the day) everything’s gone.

He told me so….four short months later I’m in the same situation again and one would think I’d learnt my lesson already, but alas, the thought comes to me…maybe just one more time??

It’s either Mr. FryMac or back to good old Windows 7 **Shudder**

Well…which would you choose?

I’m leaning towards taking my chances with the FryMac.

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Keep them Close

I really need to let out some frustration here…but first, look at my family! Most of it anyways (Isaiah was on the other couch with me.) Aww!! Aren’t they sweet? Aren’t they precious?

My blog is usually not a place for me to vent. I’ve tried to keep my blog a neutral place. Uplifting. Encouraging. Hopeful. Hopefully I’ll be able to come to that in the end.

Right now, I’m in transition.

Man, I hate transition.

Can’t anything ever be predictable? Can’t anything ever stay the same?

We’re taking a year off from homeschooling and sending our kids to public school next year. And the school system has really good things going for it. Really it does! But boy, does it ever have its flaws.

I have a love-hate relationship with public school.

As I social kid, I LOVED school. As someone who loves opportunities and creativity, I love public school. In fact, let’s be honest here, I would’ve been horrified if my mom would’ve suggested homeschooling me!

But, in hindsight, public school hardened me to my morals, made me value peers over family, taught me that immorality was funny, showed me that disrespect was popular, that stuff was more important than people, that God was irrelevant and quite honestly, it brought me to my teenage rebellion.

A hard heart doesn’t happen overnight. My soft, sensitive character was horrified at many of the things I heard and experienced my first tender years in school. I remember lying awake and feeling guilty just for the things I overheard. Oh, to have that sweet innocence, that childlike concern for all that is evil.

But over the years I choked back my feelings. To speak out was to be mocked. To tell an adult was to be a tattletale. To cry was to be a wimp.

Children shouldn’t have to harden their hearts to survive in this world. They shouldn’t have to accept evil as normal to adapt to their environment. But I did. In fact, if more adults had the softness of children, this world would be a better place!

Now here’s my rant. I have accepted and overlooked many many ignorant and insensitive comments about homeschooling over the years, but if I point out anything negative about the public school I am seen as judgemental, self-righteous and narrow minded for believing that home is actually the best environment for children to learn in. People today act as if children randomly turn out good or bad. Like it all depends on each character and us parents have little to no say in the outcome.

As if raising good kids is like buying a lottery ticket.

Like rolling a die.

Of course deep down they know better. We all know better.

Good kids are the result of good parenting.

Now, I know it’s also true that good parents can have a child that rebels…just as bad parents can birth a child with good morals! There are pastors who have done everything right whose child suddenly turns wrong crowds and drugs, just as there are druggies who have done everything wrong, whose child decides to end the cycle and make something of themselves!

BUT mostly, good parents raise good children. If that didn’t have at least a hint of truth, then none of us would bother trying to do our best.

And the crazy thing, the thing that really blows my mind is that when I talk like this people get shifty eyed and act uncomfortable. Maybe this kind of talk will offend someone. Maybe someone will feel judged. Maybe they’ll feel guilty.

Who are we scared of offending? The millions of parents out there who are doing it wrong?

Let me put it down plainly:

Kids shoved into daycares all day from day one, and dragged from sitter to sitter every evening and weekend, then thrown into the school system to be taught and mentored by random adults will feel disconnected from their parents and find belonging elsewhere.

Is that what we want?

It’s what we’re breeding.

I see kids who only care about what their immature peers think, because all the adults in their life who should be caring for them are too busy to give a rip.

I see children put in front of endless screens because actually training them to get along, sit quietly in a restaurant and use table manners takes too much effort. It’s just too hard. Isn’t it?

Telling a kid to go play is much easier than inviting them to take part in our world, much easier than teaching them how to work, how to cook, how to be creative.

These days, getting a sitter so we can go to bible study or prayer meeting is the new norm, why bother go to church if it’s too distracting right?!? What if…what if, it’s not just about my relationship with God?

What if it’s about theirs as well? What if them witnessing us model a good bible study, good devos, and hearing our prayers has more value than just me and a bunch of other adults going deeper on our own, free from distraction?

But if my kids are respectful and well behaved, that’s just chance, isn’t it? If they listen to their parents over their friends, if they love God, do personal devos and know how to pray in groups, that must just be something special they magically inherited, right?

People, it’s not just chance!

You want good kids? Then keep them close! Love them! Spend time with them. Teach them about what matters. Show them that they are the most important thing you can invest your life into!

The best piece of advice I ever got as a young mom was to learn to live off one income. “Whatever you do,” I was told, “sacrifice what you have to to stay at home with your children. It will be worth it.”

I wholeheartedly agree. It was worth it.

And I understand this isn’t possible for absolutely everyone. If you must work, then do, but for goodness sakes, keep your evenings open at least!

However, for the majority of us, we can make it work, we just don’t want to. We’ve believed the lie that raising a family has no value. That a stay at home mom is an unsuccessful one.

That a career brings value.

That a salary defines me.

That my family needs me to bring in more money.

They don’t need the money, they need me.

I don’t know what hardships public school will bring to my kids. But I do know that I have every intention of pouring in just as much time and care into their hearts as I ever did.

Social Media, you will not hold my kids hearts.

Drugs and Alcohol, you will not take hold of them.

Popularity and Vanity, you will not control their actions.

I can’t keep them home for forever, that would be terrible for them! I am willing to let them go, yes. It is good to allow them freedom to roam!

But every time they come home that’s what it will be: HOME. Where love and laughter and warmth awaits. Where we do things together – as loud, as crazy and as messy as it may be! Where they have freedom to cry and make mistakes. Freedom to be weird. Freedom to tease. Freedom to grow and learn at their own pace. And my arms will not push them away just for another break. I will not tell them to go away so I can enjoy a bit of silence.

I’ll get more than enough of that in the nursing home someday!

As long as they’re willing, I’m keeping them close.

A Homeschool Pause

Today I want to share something that is going to be incredibly life changing for me this coming year. As many of you know, I am currently homeschooling four of my five children – and now, after my sixth year of homeschooling, I am going to take year seven to pause and reflect.

Thats right! My five precious children will be strapping on their backpacks, and lining up like little ducklings to face “real school” 😜 this fall! (For those of you who don’t get my reference to “real school” I mean public school, although you fellow homeschoolers will know exactly what I’m mean!!) Watch out everyone…the Bergen’s are coming!!

I have known our plans for a couple months now but just recently have begun to share the news and I must say, it’s very interesting to see all the different reactions that have come from this decision…

I’ve had it all from, “Are you sure you want to send your kids to Public School?!?” (Spoken like I’m sending them away to some evil war camp) to “Wow! Good for you! Won’t that be nice to have an empty house and all that free time?” to “Oh finally you’ve come to your senses! Are you going to be normal get a real job now?”

Ok. I’m exaggerating just a wee bit. None of those things were actually said to me, but I’ve had many conversations that give me each of the vibes above and I’m quite sure that none of them are what I’m actually feeling.

So let me answer these questions for those of you who are too polite to ask them in the first place:

1) Yes, I am quite sure that for this year, our five children are going to attend school together. One of the reasons I am sure of this is that for the past few years I have felt very split up as a family, having one child in public school and the rest at home. I have comforted myself by the fact that we would be split up anyway if they were all in school (as in my youngest was still to young for kindergarten so he’d be at home with me.) This year is the first and only year that my children will ever be able to attend the same public school altogether. This brings me so much joy and excitement – the thought that my five kids can experience school life together; bus rides, assemblies, family days, etc. I also am confident that even though yes, there will be some negative influences in their lives, the school is a very good one with wonderful teachers. I also am prepared to clear our evening schedules as much as possible so that I have time to spend with our children each evening.

2) No I don’t expect a break. I don’t even expect an easier year. I don’t expect calm days of doing whatever I want. I just don’t! Helping five kids adjust to public school after homeschooling will take a lot of correspondence with the teachers, a lot of patient evenings helping with homework, a lot of volunteer hours so that my children can see that I still value their education and work environment, a lot of healthy lunch planning, ALOT of papers brought home (found in crumpled balls at the bottom of their school bags – along with…”Eewww!!! What’s that?!?”), and to top it off a lot of driving around and planning for the future!

3) And lastly, no, I’m not going to finally be normal. I will continue to be my weird self, no “real” job in my near future, AND my hopes are to continue homeschooling at least two of my boys the following fall.

So, you may be wondering…why the change? Will one year off be worth all the paperwork, adjustments, etc. of public school? Why not just keep the two boys at home and start a new normal?

To answer that I would refer back to the first answer I gave: But they’ll all be together!

And I also will add that these last couple years my homeschooling hasn’t been at its finest. I’ve still been committed to giving my kids an excellent education, but I’ve really resorted to doing the bare minimum and even that lacks creativity. Quite simply, I’ve lost my former spark and zeal for homeschooling.

So instead of viewing this year as a rest, I’m focusing on using my year “off” to reassess some of the reasons I began homeschooling in the first place. Creative teaching and planning takes time, lots of time and to continue for a couple more years I’m simply setting aside this year as a gage of where we are at. I’ll be answering a lot of questions. Is my heart still in it? Do the benefits of it outweigh the inconvenience? What is our long-term goal, and how is homeschooling accomplishing it? How has homeschooling been beneficial to my older kids? Have they been able to adjust to life among their peers? And so on. You get the picture.

So that’s my big news for today! How about you?

Do you homeschool? A former homeschooler? Have you ever had to make a similar adjustment? If so, how did it turn out for you?

A Parents Call to Pray

I’ve been all over God’s word today… Deuteronomy, Psalms, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Proverbs… and you know what I see throughout it all? The same loving, gracious God, gently calling and beckoning his people to walk in his ways and teach his ways to the next generation.

And the realization hit me: I can teach my children, but it is God alone who can save their hearts.

God alone can grow the seeds that I’ve so earnestly planted. God alone can hold their hearts and win their love and devotion. This is why my prayers are so important. For what my teaching is powerless to do, my prayers CAN do! I don’t want God to just have their outward obedience! I want him to have their hearts to the very core!

Dear parent, do you feel helpless for where your family is at? Pray!

Do you feel like all your efforts in teaching your children were in vain? Pray!

Have your children rejected your teachings? Pray!

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise up early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for He grants sleep to those he love. Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in ones youth.”

Psalm 127:1-4

Surely the Lord answers our prayers in accordance with his will. And we know from scripture it is his will that NONE should perish, but that all will come to repentance.

Don’t Blame a Selfish Generation on the School System (or the Government)

Sometimes a post or a comment can trigger a string of thoughts. Often I just ponder them throughout the day, but, once in a while – if I have the time to sit down and write – a new blog post is written. A few months ago, I noticed a paragraph that got posted a few times on my feed by different people and so even though I often skip long status updates, I ended up reading this one through many times. And each time I read it I thought, hmmm…it’s very interesting how whoever wrote this felt the need to both write off an entire generation of people and blame the government for making them that way.

Here’s the post:

R.I.P. Canada You are too soft. You raised the cost of living so high that both parents are always at work, rather than spending time with their children. You took authority out of schools. Parents were told ‘No you can’t discipline your kids’. Well, Canada You shall reap what you sow, and we have lost a percentage of next generation adults as the soft approach turned them into rude, selfish, disrespectful humans who have no respect for people, property or authority…

(Ok I deleted a big section of this long-winded rant, but I left the conclusion for you 😜)….

Things need to change! Copy & paste if you have the guts too!!!”

Now, I would agree with some of the thoughts behind the post, but today I’m not writing about politics or my concerns about our current government’s shortcomings. Today I want to address a FAR more important issue that’s damaging households and families in every background and social status across our Country.

Let me start off by saying this:

Fellow parents, it is not the governments fault or the school system’s fault if our children turn out to be selfish, disrespectful and rude. It’s OURS. If all our children are really turning out that bad, we just have to look in the mirror to see who’s really at fault.

I hear again and again that “both parents HAVE to work in order to survive these days” and I have to tell you, in the most respectful way possible, that this simply isn’t true!

I got pregnant as a teenager. I got married at 18. My husband was making only $24,000 a year when our first son was born. And you know what? We have been living off of one income for the past 12.5 years.

Was it easy? No. No it wasn’t.

What teenager wants to go from living in a wealthy home in a nice neighbourhood, to living in a mouse infested trailer in the trailer court? What woman (or man) wants to be stuck at home all day with a baby because there’s no money for a second vehicle? What teenage new mother wants to stop wearing makeup and buying new clothes because she can only afford the used ones? Or go without internet, satellite, or a smartphone (gasp!) and settle instead for a landline.

Not very many – I assure you. Not very many are willing. But don’t tell me it’s not possible! I’ve lived it.

But here’s the thing: my baby boy couldn’t care less whether he was laying on designer sheets, in a fancy house, with a well decorated nursery – or a plain white sheet, in a used crib, in a trailer.

All that mattered to him was that he was being loved and tenderly cared for.

Now don’t get me wrong….I’m NOT saying you need to homeschool or stay at home and live on one income to raise good children. But you do need time. And it’s not the governments fault that we haven’t made time for our kids.

It’s our own busy lives that do that.

If us parents would be really honest with ourselves, all that stuff we buy for “them” is really not for them at all!

It’s for us.

The fancy themed bedrooms with matching decor, the name brand outfits bought for that perfect photo shoot, the outrageous Pinterest birthday parties, with the perfectly decorated cakes (as I gulp…guilty over here 🙋🏼‍♀️) …all these things never were really for them in the first place. They were for us. To boost our egos. To make up for what we fear we lack. Social Media and Pinterest have only fueled this struggle for parents because deep down we want our kids to have the best childhood! We really do!

Yet, I look at so many children and do you know what I see? Emptiness. Sadness. Disconnectedness. The result of parents not giving them what they deeply wanted and needed all along.

Parents: All your children want is YOU! From day one. This is why the new fancy toy set you just bought for them remains in the corner a few days (or hours) later while they whine and cry at your feet…they didn’t really want it in the first place. They just want YOU!!

Twelve years have gone by. My husband went back to school for a college degree and got a job in a field he loves. Four more kids have been added to our home. My oldest boy is in grade 7 and has been in the public school system now for the past couple years. My husband is making a lot more and we are living in my dream home in the country. But we still are making “sacrifices” so that I can stay home. And somehow, looking at the relationship that we have with our kids, I no longer see them as sacrifices. I willingly give up a finished basement, a shiny new vehicle, or a perfectly manicured yard to finish raising my children well – to have them feel safe and loved and connected. To have time to teach them to work hard, to volunteer, to cook and clean.

And I don’t worry about the negative affect of the school systems policies, because I’ve done the hard work at home. No matter what happened at school, I know my boy can come home and talk about it with me, feeling safe and loved. It wasn’t up to the school to raise him.  It wasn’t up to his coaches to teach him respect, or up to his Sunday school teachers to teach him about God and morals. It was my job! And unfortunately not all parents understand this!

Parenting is a hard, draining, often uncertain and lifelong commitment. It’s a parents job to teach respect and morals. And in Canada we still have so many opportunities and freedoms to do so! You know the best way to change your country? It’s not simply changing the government. It’s raising the next generation to be confident, caring, compassionate, hardworking individuals who believe that their most important job in life isn’t the one that pays them to be there, but rather their responsibility to the lives around them.

You want to change Canada? Then do!

But don’t try to change it by copying and pasting some whiny rant against the government. Change it, one person at a time, by taking responsibility for what’s happening in your own home.

Snapshots and Memories

As I raise this family of mine, I often hope that the good things will stick. Many times us mothers live in constant worry – as if our children will only remember every single bad thing we ever did and forget all the good times that happened in between.

There was a time when my oldest was small, where every time I would mess up, yell, or react in a wrong way, I would comfort myself with the thought: “Well he’s only two, he won’t remember that.”

Then, “Hey he’s only three, I don’t remember anything from when I was three…maybe he’ll forget it.”

Then four, “He might actually remember this.”

Then Five: “By this age he’ll totally remember…”

And then Six: “He’ll never forget that!”

Somewhere along the way I had become haunted by the thought that every single flaw, every failure would be carefully recorded, stored in their memories and brought out on the inevitable day when they most certainly will all go to years of therapy to undo all my mistakes.

But realistically, our memories don’t work that way.

My own childhood is a mixed-up snapshot, a mostly happy blur of highlights: playing dolls with my sisters, an old horse named Gus who I led around the pasture for many hours, dump runs with my dad, working outside with the whole family and then going afterwards to my grandparents house to swim and eat freezer-burnt Revels (which, by the way, I LOVED because of all the ice on the outside and the middle was yellowish and chrystalized just as I liked it!!), singing with my mom while she rocked me in our old brown rocking chair, random cartoon characters, knitted kittens and KFC at my other Grandma’s house, hockey cards with hard chewing gum in the packs, stories of my Father’s fascinating childhood in Mexico, new batches of kittens every spring, special family vacations, family gatherings with cousins to play with, morning devotions, camping disasters and traumatic news events such as Princess Diana’s death and 9/11.

Were my parents perfect? No.

But do I have a file of horror stories that I need deep healing from? Absolutely not!

In fact, almost every single one of my memories of them are happy ones!!!

Still there’s days where I wonder: Will my kids remember any of the good?

Looking back on pictures of my firstborn has many times filled me with deep regret. Regret because I wanted so badly to be that perfect parent that I wanted HIM to be perfect, so I barely gave him a childhood. Still I was trying my very best then, just as I am now.

“Let’s play a game!” I suddenly said to my children one lazy afternoon as I was thinking such thoughts as these.

I called it “Snapshots and Memories”

“Let’s take turns telling stories of our early memories (good or bad) and see what all comes to mind!”

What’s the worst that can happen?? (Part of me expected the worst.)

I started off the game with a memory from when I was five. My family was moving to a new community and I was so excited, yet sad, simply because I was really worried about missing the opportunity to sleep with our big class bear in kindergarten! Each child got a turn to take the bear home and sleep with it for a night…(ok that’s kind of gross now to think about!!) But my teacher was so kind that I got “randomly picked” the night before my last day at that school. I was thrilled! Now I could move on 😉

Next Bella shared a memory of going to a conference when she was six and being so embarrassed when a boy her age kept following her around telling her he was “in love” with her. She shuddered at the memory! (Oh the problems of being popular everywhere you go lol).

Then Jonas shared a memory of a spicy chip he ate and that I gave him a cold glass of milk afterwards…. (skipping that part about his dad encouraging it and filming as he changed from smug faced to “oh boy, this is HOT!🥵”)

Ok phew! So far so good!

Dallas shared next about going through my spices in the cupboard when I came up asking what he was doing and he kept saying “I’m trying to sell it” when he really meant “smell it”.

Emerson told a random story about monsters chasing him and me spraying them with a fire gun…which I quite enjoyed because I was the hero of that one and it most likely was 100% true…

AND…then the game took a very sharp downhill turn of made up senarios that I’m quite certain never actually took place, ALTHOUGH….the story of our family rocket blasting down Mt. Everest with two day old baby Emerson strapped to it really would be quite the adventure to tell the grandchildren about one day!

Maybe I’ll have to keep that one in the memory book…

As for their “ruined” childhoods, I am now certain that it’s not the actual failures I need to worry about, but the made up ones.

 

Summer Prayer Challenge – Week 6

This post marks the halfway point of this challenge AND summer holidays!

SAY WHAT?!?

How is it that February feels like it lasts 100 days and summer feels like 20 days?

Last night I had a dream about wasting my summer…I woke up to realize that I need to spend time with my kids NOW. Isaiah, my oldest is 12. That means that counting this one, I only have 6 summers left with him before he’s 18.

Now that’s an eye opening thought.

One that prompted me to get up in the night and make a note to myself to be with my kiddos. I don’t need to go on an extravagant vacation or expensive outings.

Isaiah loves running with me and playing dodgeball with the family. Bella likes reading side by side and drawing together. Easy enough! I like the same things! Jonas likes biking with me, he also loves doing crazy tricks and dares…which is not me at all, but I can watch him get hurt…nooooo problem. 😜 Dallas is my game guy; he LOVES any card or board game. He’s also a huge sports fan: soccer, badminton, baseball, anything really! And Emerson, he doesn’t really care what we do, he just likes being with me.

What are your kids like? What do you do together? I’d love to hear!

One of the most important parts of parenting is connecting with each individual child…but each day, it starts with connecting to God and praying for them.

Here’s the prayer topics and Saturday’s challenge for this week:

Monday- Pray today for your home church that you attend.

Tuesday- Pray for the persecuted church again. These suffering brothers and sisters NEED our prayers!

Wednesday- Pray for Mental Health. Specifically, for God to provide godly councillors and intercessors for those struggling.

Thursday- Pray for us believers to return to our first love: Jesus. This week specifically (and maybe ironically???), I’m focusing on praying into our idols of social media/smart phones.

Friday- Pray for our Countries. I’ll be praying about Canada’s outright flaunting and celebrating of sexual sin, confessing my part in this and asking God for a desire to walk in purity and holiness with him.

Saturday-  Those Who Have Not Heard. Basically I’ll be praying for the unreached and also those who have maybe heard of Jesus, but don’t really know his message.

CHALLENGE: God didn’t leave his followers on earth for them to sit back and live comfortably until his return. That’s just not what scripture teaches. He chose to leave it up to his followers to share with the world our amazing hope, the message of the cross. Ask God: How can I share the gospel in my workplace? In my neighborhood? In my city? Am I ashamed of you Jesus? Am I afraid because of how it may look? Am I closing my eyes to those around me who are starving to hear the message of hope? Obey what you feel the Lord speaking to you!

Sunday – Lay Down Your Hurt And COME. There are many reasons a lot of Christians have stopped attending church. Maybe thy’ve been hurt by the church or people in the church in some way. Maybe they’ve become bitter or angry at God. Maybe they don’t feel good enough or worthy. This week I want pray for them.

You can also follow along on Facebook or Instagram for more insight into each prayer for the day. Find me as everysmallvoice on IG and Heather Bergen on FB. Love doing this together 💕

– Heather