Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Newsy News on This Corner of The World...

We, the Byrum family, are well-known by our close associates for a crazy lifestyle. That is, one that is only organized by little leaps here, and rarely by bounds. We are the family known for their late nights, super busy schedules, and the family known for loving company. For as long as I can remember, my parents have been the most people friendly people I know. Sometimes this gets us into trouble, (as we're finding out with our children getting older) but at other times, we find that the essence of life finds us right there - in the midst of it all. I am, really, truly, happy to be sharing a life with the sweetest people I know, a life with a family that is truly the greatest...even if my schedule can't be kept while keeping theirs.
This next week will be an amazingly busy one for even our family. It is THE moving week! We are so excited to be actually moving into our new home, even though the construction is not completely finished. My bedroom, (actually, us girls' bedroom) is still dirt and gravel with a covering over it. We can't start construction on it until our radiant heat material comes in the mail. When it does, our room will be up in no time. Until then, however, I find myself looking out the window in the place that will be my future room, and dreaming of the happy years ahead - when I will be dreaming and writing in a new bedroom, in a new home, with the same people I love.
Another exciting highlight of my week is the arrival of my precious friend, (whom many of you know by reputation) Leah Cross from Colorado! What a dear friend she has been to me through the years! (Leah - I love you!) She stands a wonderful example for me, (for almost nine years!) and the big sister figure I have never had. We are elated that she is able to stay a week with my family and me. We will have a blast, to say the very least!
My big brother turns eighteen this Saturday. My family and I stand in awe at what the Lord has done these past two years of his life with us. My brother is a constant source of strength for me -the cornerstone and pillar in my life who anchors me to the ground when my dreams soar too high, my source of smiles when my laughing tank is empty, and my dear brother in the Lord who ever presses me on to greater heigths in my walk with God. I love you, Jonathan!
My mother's birthday is also coming up. I plan on posting a tribute to my precious ruby on the ninth.
And, until next time, I will be ever busy with my family's plans, and also the continuing project my precious friend, Kindra, and I are working on: our Christmas musical script for our drama group's Christmas performance this year.
Also, stay tuned for the latest Byrum website on the block: Me on the web? You bet! Two years in the making, with various technical changes and problems, will soon be available to the public along with all of my vocational branches including the SVW, the NICHEAD, my current writing projects, photography, and music. We are praying that this online ministry will be a haven of joy, a source of excellent literary and musical art, as well as a wellspring of spiritual encouragement for Christians.
As I close, know that my family keeps you, our dear friends, in our thoughts and prayers as we draw closer to this special time of year. With each autumn leaf that falls to the ground, another is on its way...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Homeschool Heroes

In Christopher Klicka's latest book, Homeschool Heroes, Mr. Klicka dramatically retells the passionate story of the heroes thirty years ago - the heroes rarely mentioned, who sat in their basements, their Bibles opened, a globe on the table: teaching their children the Word of God. Contrary to what society said was "normal", despite the threats of arrests, these brave heroes labeled "home schooling parents" faced all opposition and won a great victory. Through this book, Klicka tells their story and encourages a new generation of home schoolers to rise up in honor and gratitude. Because of their sacrifices, we now have a new generation of home schoolers who are living and breathing the joys of this freedom to home school.
In much the same way, I feel another group needs to hear the gratitude of multitudes, and they will, you may be sure. This gratitude will not be expressed to the winners of Noble Peace prizes, champions of athletic or technologically advancing research, or even the great leaders of family friendly politics, but rather the little boys and girls playing with legos and having tea parties, or the teenagers who think they are "ruining" their brain by pumping it with information as they sit absorbed in their laptop and books. These same home schooled children, who are tempted at times, (who maybe do at times) to believe that they are isolated, uniformed, handicapped-to-the-world whimps, are the children I believe the world is celebrating, and will continue to celebrate. And as these children stand at the very pinnacle of success, their parents, the real heroes, who combated assaults led by family members and church members, will gently applaud their children as well, while the entire family will have been edified, strengthened, awakened and changed by the journey.
I remember a very dear friend of mine at the age of eighteen telling me that she was sure that her incredible success in high school was due to the way her mother taught her. Curious about the protocol her mother took, she informed me that her mother was at first very nervous about home schooling, but, being a creative individual on a limited budget, (in a world very anti toward home education) she did the absolute best that she could. Every Friday she would load up her daughter of six and her son of eight, and would walk three blocks to the library, pulling along two empty wagons. When they headed home some hours later, the wagons were laden with mountains of books, and when they returned the next week, every one of the books had been read, dissected, discussed, and reported on. Besides making this their major curriculum, these bright children never neglected their play time, the little son playing with his legos and building castles, and the little girl dressing up and playing tea party. In fact, after interviewing this brave mother, she told me that she felt like her son had spent his entire childhood playing with legos - not "doing school." At the time of her active home schooling, this worried her. But she didn't have much to worry about. Fifteen years after her first year with all of its opposition in various shades, (many coming from her own doubts) this precious lady is the proud mother of a leader in the original Microsoft Seattle, Corporation, an author of Microsoft's latest computer handbook, a top developer of software for the company and rising quickly to the top. My friend, the very nervous young lady, who, like her brother, thought that she would be inadequate and incapable to cope with her world, is now a completely capable young woman with outstanding social skills whom her local college has done articles on, and whom full front-page headlines have spoken of. She is known as an amazing individual in our area, especially because she was home schooled, but she is also known for her excellent skill as an RN in a major city hospital, and for her radiating smile through which she witnesses to her world.
Another friend of ours, a dear lady in California who completely and confidently raised her children, says that even though she spoke volumes of confidence into her children, she, at times, did not feel like having that confidence. Her children say that because of her indoctrination, she raised successful adults. "I would tell my children," she said, "look at that school fence! Those poor children are in prison! I'd hate to be in that school! WE get to do school whenever! Let's go get an ice cream while those poor, poor children have to stay in that place." By giving them a positive outlook on life, her children began to look at their position as one to be envied. But still, there is that little thing that tells us, "You're not going to make it. You're not like everybody else. Look, even your relatives don't agree. Even your CHURCH does not agree. You're WEIRD!" The wise child throws these thoughts off, but truly, we're all human, and we all face the temptation to fear. Listen to what the home schooling graduates of today are saying:
"DON'T FEAR!" There is nothing to fear from your friends, your culture, your world. You are doing something (being home schooled) because you believe in it; because your parents believe in it...because it's a part of who you are. Don't be afraid! God is with you, and the world will be astounded at what He can accomplish in and through you.
When I was fourteen, I went through what I call an academic "drop out." I was rather depressed at my fall of normal straight As, and I considered the home schooling movement a waste because I wasn't making it. I remember an old friend of my mother's telling me one day, "Sarah, don't worry about geometry. Just focus on what's in front of you now, and shine. When the world sees you, I want them to see you, not your grades, not your talents: you - because Who is in you is far more important. When the world can see your smile and the shine in your eyes, that's how they'll know that your difference as a home schooler is important and worthwhile. And they'll begin to question the depth in you - Jesus Christ. Shine, Sarah." These very words I wrote down in my journal, and you know what? They've stuck with me all these years. I can't quite seem to forget them.
Whenever a home schooling friend gets discouraged, (or, whenever I suspect they are!) I try my best to uplift them with positive encouragement. Who are the heroes of education? Home schoolers. And for this reason, if not any other: because they have pressed on, regardless, period. To the parents and heroes of our generation, thank you. You will never know what you have done by the valiant, courageous, godly choices you have made. To the children and heroes (that's right - heroes) of our generation and the generations to come, thank you. Thank for choosing to stand for what is right beside your parents, for uplifting the same banner they hold. Thank you for making a difference. You have. And I believe that the impact of your decisions will extend far into the depth of your future, our future, and the history of the world. To our great Father God, the greatness of our gratitude belongs to You alone. For it is You that gives us the grace and the strength to get through every day, every hour, every moment; even tomorrow when we're down to the itty-bitty, everyday things like teaching phonics, working at the math table, studying history, feeling Your hand...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mama the Wonderful

Mama the Great. Mama the Supermom. Mama the Heroine. Mama the Incredible...and on and on and on. I could have chosen any of them to use as a title for this posting. However, to do so would be to dishonor, for though I think my mother is all of these things and more, yet she is so human that she would cringe at my calling her those things. She is wonderful, however, and no one can deny that. I want to make something straight here, though. Most people who know my mother look at her as if she was some kind of super-mom, some type of human being with extra powers. I live with her, and know that this is not the case, but what is is the fact that she walks faithfully through every day, never looking back, always forward - ever pressing on for the cause of Christ - whether or not it's fun, and whether or not it's easy. That's faith. My mother is wonderful because she chooses to take God at His word - whether or not it makes sense. My mother's life is powerful and influencing because she lets it be. That's simply it. She will readily tell you that womanhood is a powerful tool to wield, and that any woman can use that gift of herself to communicate vast volumes of truth into many lives - by using this gift of herself. A mother, (and mine especially because I view her everyday) teaches far more than words by the example she portrays with her life. But she does use words, too! My mother's words are deep rivers and penetrate the coldest of hearts. I've watched her be used mightily of the Lord in dealing with not-so-perfect people. But, to me, her daily life is the sweetest blessing.
Mama considers her highest goal to be helping her husband raise up her ten precious children for the furtherance of the kingdom of God. And she does her job well, some people think, too well. My mama is wise. She knows how to relate to each one of her individual thinkers, talkers and smilers. Her heart lights up with joy when her little son, Micah (our ultra-tenderhearted) informs her of some little happiness in his life. (In other words, she's not pretending to be happy when Micah lets her know that he is so glad he found the toad he lost.) Her face melts in compassion, though never in resolve, when her little wayward son, (the unnamed supremely animated member of our family some of you will know by his huge smile and high voice!) has just strayed from the path of righteousness again. Or when her older sons and daughters have heavy issues on their hearts, my precious mother never treats the issue lightly; rather, prayerfully she addresses our hearts with the truth in love - her proven recipe for success.
Has my mother always been this way? I smile, thinking about the many times in the past when she certainly was not. But God is changing her, just like He will any willing vessel. My mother is a study in complete femininity, and being completely feminine, she recognizes her position in the hand of a Sovereign God who created her and placed her right here, to serve us, her family.
My dear mother recognizes in her highest goal of raising her children for God the high goal of leading them to Him. My mother led me to Christ at the age of eleven, and has, this summer, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, led my little sister Rachel (14) to Jesus after many tears for her soul. A month ago my brother Micah (7) came to the Lord, and today, I praise the Lord to say that our two peas-in-a-pod, Bethany (10) and Joel (9) made Jesus Christ Lord of their lives. My mother was there, as she always is, with my dear father, sitting with tears in her eyes and a smile on her radiating countenance. My mother is always beautiful, but never more than when a little one of hers has found a place in the fold of the Great Shepherd and mercy at the cross. My mother is wonderful. And my prayer at the end of my post is that God would give me the same sweet spirit He has given my mother - like He will give every mother who asks Him - so that someday I might have the greatest joy of life: seeing my own precious lambs fall into the arms of their Saviour.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Everything Byrum - (That is, all the Byrum news.)

What beautiful days I am walking through now! Autumn has always been a favorite season for my family and me, a chance to wind down from the busy-ness of summer and embrace the calmness of the season before the holidays.
You all are entitled to knowing that our house has at last closed, and we are the proud owners. We begin the ground floor remodeling/reconstruction this next week, to my brothers' intense gratification, (since that is their delightful area of service,) and to the great happiness of my sisters and me - because we get to decorate it! For many weeks now we have been searching through every home designing book we can get our hands on, and have been debating between which styles, colors, themes, and attitudes we want each corner of our house to have. Presently it has quite a European flair - but that will be changed in a few areas considering the fact that my very western brothers are moving in! Their huge bedroom is being designed like a cowboy's dream. Old saddles on the wall alongside dusty colored cowboy hats, horseshoe dressers and a blue sky ceiling. Bunkbeds, ladders, and gun racks. What more could an all-boy want? The next time I hear someone say that boys hate decorating, I think I'll choose to debate them.
My sisters and I opted to share a bedroom. There are only four of us - including our delightful baby sister, and we felt that it would be hard on our closely kindred spirits to seperate. Besides, my family isn't into the whole "individualist, independent" spirited attitude that permeates our culture anyway. I could "preach a sermon" on that, as my dear older brother often teases me of when talking of the debating pastime I can be far too fond of. We would far rather be close. We tell people that that's because we love each other so much, and laugh while they stare at us. Our hearts cry because more families can't truly say that about each other like we can. But anyway, back to our bedroom. When choosing themes, we had a huge debate over a pastel pallette/ballerina theme, or a royal "up-country" Parisian theme and a rich color choice. My oldest little sister, (as I laughingly call her to her unamusement,) really sacrificed a great dream of hers in choosing. As everyone who knows her is aware of, my sister, Rachel, is a beautiful little cowgirl. Completely western in her styles and dreams, I wish to commend her for her sacrificial attitude in giving up a western bedroom theme. She gave it up to the more Frenchy tastes of her younger and older sisters - Bethany and I - and heartily threw herself into our plans. So, for her sake, together us girls went for the royal French theme because it was less "little girl-ish" as Rachel calls the pink ballerina room. Besides, once we got to thinking about it, that's kind of what we want to be known as anyway. Princesses. My name means princess, in case you didn't know, and my sisters are also royal as daughters in their father's household and in the house of the King of Kings. We want our bedroom, though it is such a little part of our lives, to boldly proclaim our life visions just as we try to in everything else we undertake, and everything that bears our name. The Byrum Family Princesses. That phrase says a whole lot about what we consider our lot in life to be, how we view it; and, in our home, how we celebrate it.

Besides the packing and moving and packing and moving some more anthem we are living to right now, we still find time to live to the lighter tunes of life. My dad and brothers are busily engaged in their ALERT father/son squad with many of their homeschooling friends, a delightful addition to our lives. Everyone morning they are up early, repeating the pledge of allegiance in front of our beautiful flag on the tall pole in the front of our home. Every morning we womenfolk watch them strengthen themselves with their morning excerices and sharpen their minds with intense discipleship with their father, their leader, their patriarch. Rachel is busy as can be with her horseback riding lessons (in which she is excelling beyond her instructor's belief). She is happiest on the back of a horse. I am absorbed in preparing for the launching of our Golden Thread Film and Stage Company - a drama team branching off from the newly kicked-off North Idaho Christian Home Educators Association of Drama. A couple times each week my dear friend Kindra and I meet to brainstorm ideas and write up the developing Chrisitmas musical play we are throwing on stage this December. Besides all that, I still find time to teach piano to little fingers, and writing, of course. School has been postponed until November this year because of the move, and I don't think the children are complaining. They'd take remodeling a house over schoolbooks any day of the week.

Great things are happening on a spiritual level in our family as well. The Lord has added two of our very dearest friends to our home church fellowship, two families we have long loved and whom we are delighted to welcome into our circle. The fathers in both of these families are wonderful leaders, and we - our families - are excited about the foundations we are laying for all of our growing up years. Most people have no idea what it's like going to church, living life, and growing up and old with best friends. It's unlike any church experience I've ever tasted. If your family is considering home churching, I can strongly reccomend it - considering, of course, that it's with the right people. In that area, my family and I are most definetly blessed. We have the best friends in the world - people who share our vision and support it, people who live by goals and strive for them. I will forever be grateful to these friends of ours - this backbone of our spiritual life, and most especially to our Heavenly Father for bringing them into our lives.

Many thanks to all of you, who through your prayers, your love, and your support, have seen us through the most uncertain time of our life. May the blessings of God truly fall upon you in an astonishing and marvelous way - above and beyond that, even, and may you feel the love the Lord in a truer, more realistic way than ever before. I'm not just saying that. I truly mean it. The love of God is deep - not shallow, thin and hollow. I pray that He might make each one of you deep and living rivers of His presence and grace. God bless you. I love you all.