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Qualified Vs. Certified

“Life is pain. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. ” -Wesley from The Princess Bride

21st century westerners need to remind themselves of this life truth as the marketing spin doctors bombard them 24/7 through their phones, culture and governments with promises of safety and a pain free life if only we buy this product or subscribe to this service. No one likes when a business deal goes badly so certifications are the cure, right? Probably not.

Education whether it be formal with a silver spoon, hard knocks in the street, or somewhere in between has been the case for sometime. Rather public funded education run by the government is actually one of the newer practices as a result of the Enlightenment. What’s even newer is government sanctioned certifications with the blessings of a ruling body who claims the expert rights to endow such certifications in given fields.

My first experience with this was through the Red Cross’s CPR, First Aid, and Lifesaving classes. Achieving these certifications was key for me to secure the coveted teen job of life guard. It enabled Peter me to hire me to teach swimming lessons at the local YMCA even though the Lifesaving class had nothing to do with teaching anyone how to swim. That had to come with on the job training watching and following my mentor.

I keep all the certifications up with CPR being the most annoying requiring updates every year. Later in the 1990’s emerged the Lifeguarding class who’s swimming requirements weeded out many who passed the Red Cross’s Lifesaving course. But then there weren’t enough who could pass so they dropped the requirements. Then the real question was who was swimming every day practicing the skills? They have the certificate, they don’t have to prove anything anymore do they? These are the questions that surround whether certification is a good idea or needed at all.

Talk to any good caring professional these days. Certification is NOT proof of quality training and execution thereof. It’s become a money making racket for government sanctioned organizations to decide who’s allowed in the profession and who’s not.

It’s produced an interesting conundrum. For the fields that we know well we understand what a joke certification and licensing has become, but then we are conditioned to look for sheepskins and push our children to pursue them. Don’t misunderstand me, I advocate and model life long learning if only certification and licensing rewarded this, but they don’t. Rather they might hinder it. They only accept what classes that are approved by them. They don’t take into consideration what really matters. They insult instead by wasting your time and demanding your money. I had to wait for an hour on the phone yesterday to speak to a representative on which form I should complete to re-activate my Florida State Professional Teacher’s Certificate. Then I am treated like a criminal who’s guilty and has to prove my innocence by submitting fingerprints yet again and paying $90.75 to do so.

I’ve come to view this all as academic and professional bullying. So what do you do? Of course you have to work within the system, but choose carefully who you hire and why. Most importantly don’t allow yourself or your children to be bullied that they have to be schooled by certified teachers.

Teacher certification is what really opened my eyes to the hypocrisy. I remember taking the National Teacher’s Certification Test at West Virginia University in 1990. The test did not really assess my understanding of biology, but it did test my political correctness. In fact, I recall feeling absolutely unprepared especially when it came to the vast array of scientific equipment, laboratory procedures, and assessment thereof. It wasn’t until I had worked for several years in the pharmaceutical industry by walking the hallways of prestigious medical school, studied in their libraries, and engaged in discussions with professors of medicine at journal clubs and at the national medical meetings that I actually found some understanding that produce enough confidence in the world of biology and medicine.

Ironically this amazing academic medical experience was completely dismissed when I stepped back into the public classroom to teach middle school science. My pay level was reduced to credit only the half-day long term substitute teaching I had done in the early 1990’s. However, they managed to re-active a dormant teaching certificate provided I jumped through a few more of their hoops.

Being a bit naïve to how political certification really is, I challenged myself to work towards National Board Teacher Certification. I made note of all the requirements, worked very hard on my own, but skipped the “optional” Saturday morning “training” classes because I wasn’t going to leave my baby at home without me any more than I already did all week long to teach full time. I’m pretty sure that’s why I never passed. The final test was 4 essay questions. One I knocked out of the ball bark, two I answered well enough, and the last I completely bombed. Funny my score for all 4 was exactly the same, but added up low enough to ensure that I couldn’t easily try again. Now I could have paid another $125 to repeal and request that my test be graded again, but who needs to shell out more money to be rejected for not showing up for Saturday morning brainwashing?

These are the truths behind teacher certification. It’s been criticized by those in the know from the start. Education like science has always been full of politics, arguing, and debate. Yet it is what is held over parents and their children’s heads. States like Florida may allow parents to homeschool their children, but in order to do so they require an annual assessment to continue to be conducted by a Florida Certified Teacher.

If there is anything I’ve learned homeschooling my daughter for the past eight years is that the best trained teacher doesn’t guarantee a child will learn. The desire to understand is personal and comes from within. Each has a choice to be a fool or to learn to be wise. It’s every parents battle to persuade their children to listen, but ultimately each child is responsible for their decisions. The majority of the book of Proverbs addresses this very issue.

But we live in a culture that values otherwise. I wrote earlier about my observation as a classroom teacher that it was always my fault, never the students depending on the administrator’s goal. It’s funny how the buck stops somewhere, but usually isn’t really at the feet of the one responsible.

To make matters worse in regards to education, the public school model is designed to pull children away from their parents and to orient towards their peers instead. I just finished reading Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D. and Gabor Mate, M.D. According to their work sending children out to be approved by their peers thwarts their ability to develop and contributes to life long immaturity. I’ve also heard it produces a propensity to life long peer pressure.

Nature gives parents the responsibility to raise their children. Ancient cultures and civilizations fill history with proof of this. But after World War II, industrialized countries were seduced to defer this position to “experts.” Who is an expert and why?

Another lesson I’ve learned through homeschooling my child is that I need to clean up my own bad public education even as a certified teacher in 5 different states. Rolling up my sleeves to learn along side my daughter has posed its challenges, but it has also brought the greatest joy and satisfaction.

Don’t allow others to intimidate you any further and especially your kids. Decide what you can and want to do with them and do it. Selectively hire out tutors and coaches as you need. Don’t let the state or the “experts” raise your kids and determine your or their worth. Look for qualified not just certified people to assist you in your life’s journey.

For more provocative thought:

#Certification #parenting #education #schooling #homeschooling #publiceducation

Wonder Mommy

It happened again today. I felt the temptation to play Wonder Mommy. My daughter knew what happens when I attempt to take on the part and immediately supported the decision to choose less for we all know what happens when a mere mortal buys the lie and believes that they can do more than they can…disaster.

How do you respond? Do you scream, curse, yell, cry, hit, or blame others when the spinning plates in the juggling act come crashing down?

Why is it that we are so easily seduced into being that which we never can be?

If one considers the classic story of the fall of humans as described in Genesis Chapter 3 the serpent seduced Eve with the power that she could know good from evil on her own without having to rely on God, her Creator telling her what she could and couldn’t do. The fruit as food wasn’t the primary issue. Rather it was the vessel of much deeper issues and questions like, “Did God really say?” “Could, should He be solely trusted?” ” Don’t I know what’s best for me?” To be created like God poses the temptation to want to be god.

Moving onto Genesis Chapter 4 we have a choice just like the first two sons, Cain and Abel as to who we are going to listen to. Abel chose to submit to God and live according to his rule, but Cain thought he knew better and choose his own efforts instead. Ironically, Abel died and Cain lived on. In fact, Cain initiated the first of what has become known as civilization, but a new son, Seth is who was needed to create a lineage from where the Messiah Savior would come.

These classic stories from ancient Hebrew literature apply to each of us even in post modern western culture. I reiterate what I wrote in a blog last September. We keep thinking we can play god. This rugged individualism, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and DIY (Do It Yourself) American values are only setting people up for unrealistic expectations of self and others.

We are not gods. But too many people especially women happily volunteer and try to be it. Think about it. Every year a day is set aside to gather around and call your mother blessed. Books, gifts, cards, and other paraphernalia adorn slogans on how great mothers are and how they forever hold our hearts. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the Epilogue of Proverbs 31: The Wife of Noble Character but, if there is anything I’ve taught my daughter it is that I am not her perfect mother nor should I be. She has a perfect Heavenly Father, her Creator to parent her flawlessly instead.

But there is a major problem, many have been mislead, blame, and do not know who this perfect Heavenly Father is. They are angry and have exchanged His role for people led organizations whether it is the family, local church, school, or government. All of these organizations have their time and place, but cannot ever be perfect much less meet all of your needs.

For me, the answer lies in getting the roles straight. Let God be God and we his dependent creatures. A few challenges arise in this process. One is finding out who the God of the Holy Bible really is. He is not some cosmic kill joy, power hungry ogre, or distant clock maker. Nor is He an easy pushover who loves and accepts every ridiculous and childish attitude, belief, and behavior.

Jesus dished out harsh words for the religious leaders of the day who misrepresented YHWY time and time again. In addition they lorded their power over the little people. Reflecting back on the passage in Genesis chapter 2, to question the real character of God is one of the key strategies used to pull people away from enjoying a reliant relationship with our Creator.

Notice also a few chapters further back in Genesis 1:27 that man, male and female were created in God’s image. A reflection in the mirror or photo on social media captures some of the features of the real identity, but it’s not the same. Sharing the image of God should not be confused with being god, yet, it is time and time again.

Parenting and teaching our children is one of the greatest opportunities to be like God. Personally, I think that YHWY uses fatherly language in order to redeem those hurt by their earthly fathers. Wisdom in the book of Proverbs is described by feminine pronouns. Wisdom is God too. Jesus who was very much a man embodied wisdom. Stop letting your bad experience with a certain parent or gender give you the excuse to continue in ignorance as to who the real true living God really is.

It is your responsibility “to seek the LORD while He may be found.” Clean up your wrong impression of who He is. Repent from rebelling against His rule and laws. Pursue loving the LORD your God with all your heart soul, strength, and mind. Move onto to a healthier love of self not this self-serving perpetual victim type which is so popular today. A healthy godly love of self will automatically spill over into loving, respecting, and caring for your neighbor.

Stop trying to be that super hero and point your children, family, and friends to their perfect Heavenly Father when you inevitable fail them. Lastly, thank God for when He enables you to pull off something amazing through His power and grace like packing up a house and driving a 26 foot Penske truck out of state. Don’t take the glory yourself.

#Parenting #Mothering

Swimming Lessons: How many do you need?

Sign up for classes. Pay the experts. What are the results? What are the guarantees? Parents have yet more burden placed on them when their children aren’t swimming independently.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that children should be in swim lessons until they have achieved at least basic water competency. This means they can get in and out of the water without assistance, “to tread water or hold resting float with the ability to transition into forward movement, to be able to swim 25 yards independently while taking breaths as needed, to have the emotional level to adapt to different water situations, to have the understanding of important water safety rules such as kids always swim with adult supervision, never swim alone and wear life jackets in and around open water” according to the USSSA. (See link below.)

Sound reasonable? Maybe and maybe not. Where do you live? Do you have access to classes? Can you afford them. If you live near Palm Beach Gardens, Florida there is a scholarship program at but that might not be where you are. Besides are you capable of being the one who teaches your child? That’s how it works in other parts of the world especially places like the Amazon or Pacific Islands.

Western modern culture in industrialized countries like the United States has dethroned parents of their natural role to teach and raise their children. This post industrial high tech culture questions parents and replaces them with “certified” or professional teachers to take their place. Certifications might be something to achieve, but they really don’t guarantee anything. If anything they can create a false sense of superiority in addition to increasing fees. Also certifications often fail to acknowledge experience, talent, and most importantly the character of the individual.

Classes can be great. They have a time and place, but sometimes parents are the best teachers to their own children. Yet, too many moms and dads relegate this natural gift to pay for the local classes that all the other parents are doing. They have been convinced that they are not good enough and that their children need to be around peers to advance. It’s what made schools and peers all the rage since World War II. But what often ensues is peer pressure, bullying, and disrespect of parents.

According to Neufeld and Mate in Hold on to Your Kids when children turn to their peers instead of their parents for identity the results dull the integrative mind, jeopardizes adaptive trial and error learning, attaches them to the wrong mentors, stunts their ability to articulate, makes studies irrelevant, makes them more susceptible to bullying, and impedes their ability to mature. Dropping your child off for peer based classes may not be producing the long-term results your really looking for.

Swimming offers a wonderful fun and relaxing time to bond with your toddler. Don’t farm this out to a stranger if you have access to a pool and the ability to swim well. If you need look for a class for parents and children, an instructor that will give you tips on how you might be able to lead your youngster, or pick up a book at the library. Recommended reading is offered below.

Another cultural trend in the West when it comes to swimming is the false need for more stuff. Parents show up with water wing, floats, rafts, and toys. But upon closer evaluation do all these swimming aid help or hinder your child’s ability to swim?

Type in a search about lifeguards and water wings. You’ll quickly find why we hate them and never put them on our own children. The last rescue I made was at my community pool when a parent who was busily talking allowed his toddler to drift too far away, the wing popped and down the child went. I swam to the child faster than the certified lifeguard on duty. I had heard about the potential of water wings deflating 25 years ago when my lifesaving instructor trained me. Ironically, years after those certifications lapsed is when I actually used the training and saved a child’s life.

The other reasons why water wings are counterproductive is they give a false sense of security while impeding proper body position and arm motion for swimming. Think about my story above. The father was overly confident that his son was fine. Now, I’m sure there are kids out there who were raised with water wings that did go onto learn how to swim, but why make the process harder and more unsafe?

In regards to all the floats, they pop easily, they obstruct viewing, and children can get caught underneath and panic. This is why many community pools outlaw them.

Sure they are fun, but evaluate what the product is, teach your kids so that if they do get caught under it they stay calm, swim out from under, and then come up for air. Teach them not to panic if it deflates. Most importantly, always keep an eye out. Put the phone down. Focus on your child even when they are good swimmers. Drowning does not discriminate. It happens to people of all ages, swimming abilities, and various situations. It only takes a few seconds for inhaled water to lead to damaging and possibly deadly results.

Lastly, every child is different. Don’t place unrealistic expectations on your youngster when they will be able to swim independently. There is no exact formula of how many lessons it takes, what age, or how long. Personality and perception of experience play a role as well. If the child shows displeasure at getting water in their face or during their first immersion experience respect it, validate, comfort immediately with a warm hug then try again later when they show signs that they are ready.

Keep in mind that the more frequently the child is given the opportunity to learn, practice, or play in the pool that will increase the learning. 30 minutes 3-5X/week is going to produce better results than once a week. A week long class while on vacation may do better than 5 lessons over 5 weeks. My advice is start as soon as you are able. Whether it is the bathtub when your baby is 4 weeks old*, in your backyard pool in sunny Florida, or local community pool, don’t wait until they are ready for school. Bond now through the wonderful joy of swimming.

**Beware of cute photos: The adorable dog photos above did come at a cost. She loved swimming so much that it was next to impossible for us to enjoy swimming anymore. She always had to jump in and swim to whoever was in the pool. Those claws didn’t feel good. Dog hair also clogs the filter. We kept the dog, but sold the house. No more pool in the backyard. Thank God my daughter knew how to swim well before we adopted this wonderful black lab rescue.

*Water Babies: Safe Starts in Swimming by Francoise Barbira Freedman

Learn to Swim: Step by step water confidence and safety skills for babies and young children by Rob &Kathy McKay

Teaching Swimming and Water Safety: Learning Aquatics the Australian Way. The Australian Council for the Teaching of Swimming and water Safety

#Swimminglessons #Parenting #Waterwings

St. Patrick’s Day

What St. Patrick and red pandas have in common: most know very little accurate information on both.

This might be a bit of a stretch to ask what St. Patrick and red pandas have in common, but I love the story behind St. Patrick’s teen life and calling to love the Irish.  My intent in writing Rojo was to give the world a unique (and educational about pandas) story to encourage loving self and others as God created and call us to do. Doesn’t St. Patrick demonstrate this in his forgiveness of the Irish pirates and those who forced him into slavery?  That plus most people know very little accurate information about both.

St. Patrick was Romano British, not Irish. He was kidnapped by Irish Pirates from his noble home in Brittan when he was a teenager and forced into Irish slavery.  He didn’t go by the name Patrick until he trained to be a Catholic Bishop many years later in France.  He returned to Ireland to share God’s love and knowledge with the Irish…the people who at one time kidnapped him. He most likely used the clover to explain God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three distinct roles in the same one God.

Red pandas were named panda first.  Not the Giant panda.  They are not raccoons or foxes. But, rather very cute creatures that can teach us something about God and his creation too.  Check out how in Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo by Hope Mucklow.

Read more about St. Patrick in St. Patrick’s Day by Gail Gibbons, Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola, and

Click here:

to download and print a blank copy of the illustrated coloring sheet.

A Very Grateful Thanksgiving

I awoke thankful for so much this Thanksgiving Day 2021. So many mysteries, hurts, and puzzles in my life have become crystal clear since 2020. Interestingly, my daughter predicted it when interviewed in December 2019 at the 200th Birthday Celebration for Alabama in Montgomery. Somehow she just knew 2020 was not going to be just another year. Being thankful is an important trait, but so is discontent, yes discontent.

When one feels content there is no need to make change much less improvements. Pain and difficulties motivate improvement and new innovations. Making the best of a bad situation is a good psychological way to deal with it, but to accept something that we have the power to change requires the courage and boldness to step out, take a stand, and do something. That last statement was something that sunk into my head one night in 2021

Our move to Alabama met a purpose, but that was short lived. The required lifestyle there was taking a toll on everyone except on the younger dog who got plenty of stimulation chasing squirrels on 2 acres. Country living just doesn’t work in the long run for city people especially for a small family who isn’t from the area. But moving from Central Alabama back to where our hearts kept leading, northern city and Hispanic congested South Florida was going to be very painful with the amount of work it was going to require.

Growing up with a strong value to minimize pain, hard work, and discomfort was the very hurdle I needed to overcome. It was the spark that kept the fire of a former diagnosis of GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) burning. So, I awakened to the reality that I had the choice and the power to do the monumental task that lay ahead. This was the very key to unlock my baseline of unhappiness that I ironically maintained by accepting by being grateful for other things.

How often is it that those of us spiritual types trip over the very secrets that are promised and readily available? Does not the God of the Hebrews of whom Jesus came promise to equip for every calling given? Admitting my folly, confessing it, and turning from it to step out in confident faith is what I am most thankful for.

Beware of the self-help writing especially Christian ones that keep you trapped in circumstances by giving thanks that you ought to change. This advise is the a lie from the pit of hell. Now, by all means being thankful is very important, but one must strive for the balance. Hence the serenity prayer.

Happy Thanksgiving.

#Thanksgiving #Discontent #Contentment #Christianselfhelp

20 Years After 9-11 How to Tell the Kids

Scrolling through the Face Book group messages this morning, I read a mom’s question soliciting child friendly resources to teach her youngster. I applaud this mother for her sensitivity to her child’s developmental needs. The public schools could sure use some more of this as they have been indoctrinating kindergarten children with inappropriate sex education for a generation now. Then the thought dawned on me, this is the war of the east against the west.

Until September 11, 2001, the United States managed to dodge the 20th century plus warfare on its continental soil. Both World War I and II were fought mostly in Europe. We shipped and flew our young men and women to the war fronts while families in Europe sent their children to less populated country side places for safe refuge while the war raged on. This was the environment that C.S. Lewis wrote the start of the Chronicles of Narnia in.

I have come to the conclusion in generalized thinking (please note that there are a million exceptions) that we in the west are looked upon by our human family members who stayed behind in the various countries of Europe and Asia as the idealized immature siblings who are always chasing fantasies. What I mean is we or which ever relative in the past who came to the United States believed they could make a better life for themselves here. Whether it was the Pilgrims seeking religious freedom, the Irish looking for work, or the families of politically ousted, all are believing that freedom and a better future lies in the United States. This general view of immigration is what built America. This was mostly true, although those pushing a certain idealized current agenda will argue it is not. To which I would reply corruption over the years has slowly eroded the reality that if one was willing to work hard enough, they could create a great life in the U.S.A.

Along with this immature idealization in the west is a belief that we can avoid pain and hardship if only we purchase a certain product, subscribe to a particular service, or vote for a candidate who promises that which they canNOT deliver. Parents, grandparents and especially some romantic mothers are seduced into believing that their precious bundle of joy will be the next great whatever without discipline, hard work, and tears.

Those in the East especially in war torn areas like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan see horrible sites on a regular basis. Terror reigns and rules their communities monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily.

Marrying someone from another country taught me a lot during ten years of marriage. The first was a different and better understanding of one of the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Somehow Christians in the west have failed to understand what daily means. They have been led to trust more in doctors, government or corporate jobs, insurance, and retirement packages for security. None of these except doctors existed at the time of the great Jewish Rabbi’s teaching of this prayer. In fact, those doctors were also usually the high priests. It would not be for many more years when the separation of leadership into healthcare, education, politics, and religion would take place.

The “Christian West” no longer is. The trust in human made institutions through educational indoctrination and failure to walk the talk has finally displaced the original plan of the founding fathers. (If you disagree with my last claim in the previous sentence I encourage you to read the wall builders resources below.) But allow me to return to the mom looking out for her child’s emotional needs and ability to handle the history about what happen twenty years ago on September 11th.

How we handle our own emotional reaction to horrific news teaches our children more than any book, resource, or counselor. Examples are the best teacher. And what I am about to say may not be what you were expecting. Your initial reaction is not necessarily good or bad, it just is. This is the first step in handling tragedy. We need to stop judging our natural human response and those of others. We need to learn that each may react a little differently. Now when one gives way to panic, that may endanger themselves and others, but it is not necessarily wrong. You can read more about this listed below in my blog regarding a boating accident that my daughter, several others, and myself survived that sent us all into the freezing cold White River of Arkansas.

Instead of adding to the myriad of false emotional expectations by reading another how to book or blog, what I believe is needed is a greater respect and understanding of G_d, self, and others. Since the self-help genre is loaded with the latter, hence the name I will start with it.

Each responds to tragedy differently especially initially. Consider that one person runs out of a fire while another runs into help. This is why I wrote about taking turns processing the pain and inconveniences posed to all early on in 2020. What we need to do is learn how to listen to our own emotions and to the emotions of others. Listen don’t react. Then as you learn about how your response may have negatively impacted others especially your children, talk about it when you are calm. Admit that you may have been reacting in fear of what humans can do to you more so than what G_d can. Jesus taught that we should instead fear G_d instead of humans in Matthew 10:28 referenced below.

The book of Psalms if full of writers who works through their reality that fears and anger regarding injustice overwhelm at first. This is the normal reaction! It is through reflective time in prayer through faith in who G_d is, the great I AM that they process their fear and or grief that enables them to conclude with praise and hope. Psalm 77 is one of the most well known for this. So take time to listen to, reflect upon, and process your own emotions then do so for your friends, family, and especially your children.

Manners May Be Key to Getting Through Crisis

#NeverForget #911anniversary #traumaresponse

Public, Private, or Homeschool the Answer

by Hope Mucklow July 10, 2021

Provocative title eh? It rings with a promise of solution to what baffles most parents in 2021. The question is whether this answer is the best choice for you and your family. Only you can figure that out. But in this blog I will share with you insights I have gained.

I had returned to middle school public teaching at the time of my pregnancy. My colleagues all had bets that I wouldn’t make it to the end of the school year before that baby came, but I did. In fact, she came just in time for me to have to return to the classroom without missing a day for pregnancy leave. Thankfully, my mother came to stay with her that first week back to school because she was too young for daycare.

For the next 4 years, I dropped my precious bundle off at “teacher day care” then headed to school. But, I was disturbed that numerous tweens and teenagers were getting the best of my energy only for me to lose it on my daughter at the end of the day. While it led to some creative song writing inspired by Mary Poppins (you can read the blog posted below) it really was troubling. It’s a bit more complicated with health issues, but the bottom line was I had a choice, save the world at the expense of my family and health or save my health and family and go out on disability retirement. It was a tough decision, but out I went.

Off I entered into the world of homeschool pre-school. I thought I would lose my mind even with my motivational songs that I seemed to sing 24/7. The isolation was so lonely. I barely made it through the week to church services on Sundays of where they expected me to teach the Pre-School Kindergarten class (as if I didn’t have enough of this all week long.) There was a local MOPS program that I happened to join just as it was ending. The best I had were foreign nannies at the park who talked amongst themselves and my daughter had to play with babies since all pre-school age children in the greater DC area went to formal Pre-schools. The depression was so great along with a strong community of parents who heralded the local elementary school. So when the time came, we enrolled in kindergarten.

I walked her to the bus each day. I volunteered in her class of 24 children where one solo teacher attempted to teach. It was interesting to watch these brilliant children, one in particular, rule the classroom. Oh this little five year old guy was so smart and talented. He knew all the buttons to push to ensure that he was the center of attention at all times. The teacher was ok, but how could she ensure that 24 children learned how to hold their pencils properly and that the letter D works best if the line is initiated from the top? How in the world does a school like this get great reviews? I believe it’s because the parents all cared. They read to their children each night, took them to museums, played with them, and made the difference.

However, doing just this one day, my husband broke terrible news to me. On a weekend, he had taken my daughter to spend time with a caring retired occupational therapist of whom he did home upgrades for who alarmed him that she didn’t hold the pencil or crayons properly.

I spent the remainder of the year constantly correcting my daughter’s pencil hold. I sent special grips to school and email requests to the teacher emphasizing her need for guidance. The result was an ensuing three years of declined interest to pick up any crayon, coloring pencil, pen, and even paintbrush. We had ushered in a battle of hating writing.

Since my health wasn’t doing well with the climate up north we relocated to Miami. There I was excited that she would be eligible for bi-lingual public education and signed her up for 1st Grade. Fortunately, she had the best teacher, who was so talented she got promoted towards the end of the school year. Thankfully, her long-term substitute teacher was wonderful as well as the principal. However, my daughter hated the school cafeteria mayhem, the disruptive students, and poorly funded library. She begged to be home schooled. Ironically, her teacher encouraged it.

So the next year we entered the world of home school co-ops. Thankfully, one of the moms there was a more modernly trained occupational therapist who pointed out that it really doesn’t matter how my daughter holds the pencil. So we began to work towards healing the distain for writing and coloring since I finally back off with the constant corrections. Support from the co-op was mixed. We made some friends, but it was tough. Families were spread out too far across Miami Dade County and supporting one another through out the week wasn’t feasible.

Here lies the problem. We keep thinking we can play god. This rugged individualism, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and DIY (Do It Yourself) American values are only setting people for unrealistic expectations of self and others.

I recall concluding as a public school teacher that it was never the students fault for anything, nor the parents, nor the administration. The buck always stopped at the teacher. The teacher was to be the perfect administrator, technology expert, parent, counselor, nurse, pastor/priest, and of course content specialist. But at least I was given a planning period. There’s no break during the day as a home school mom. The children even follow you into the bathroom. Now of course one can teach the child not to do that, but enforcing it without another adult at home isn’t as easy as you think. This is why Todd Wilson, The Familyman, has a huge home school support ministry and comic book to help bring some relief.

We are not gods. But too many women happily volunteer and try to be it. Think about it. Every year a day is set aside to gather around and call your mother blessed. Books, gifts, cards, and other paraphernalia adorn slogans on how great mothers are and how they forever hold our hearts. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Proverbs 31. But, if there is anything I’ve taught my daughter it is that I am not her perfect mother nor should I be. She has a perfect Heavenly Father, her Creator to parent her flawlessly instead.

But there is a major problem, many have been mislead, blame, and do not know who this perfect Heavenly Father is. They are angry and have exchanged His role for a people led organization called world wide government. The other problem is there are numerous individuals who claim that they know God who only know Him on an immature literal level. I believe these individuals are perpetuating the first group I described. My daughter’s experience this week at a prominent Christian college’s summer camp proves this point.

Thankfully the camp content, nursing, was top rate, she liked her roommate, and made a great group of friends. But the rules, the dress code for girls in particularly, the lack of sufficient sleep (11 PM- 6 AM isn’t enough), and artificial Christian atmosphere came across as religious abuse not encouragement. My daughter described the featured speaker/preacher as a self-aggrandizing fake who failed to minister to one of her friends who was willing to give Christianity a second chance. But, her friend’s issues were too messy, uncontrollable, and inconvenient for the speaker/pastor to listen to. Thankfully, my daughter and her new group of friends provided the support this young lady needed.

To me, the answer lies in getting the roles straight. But the first step in this process is finding out who the God of the Holy Bible really is. He is not some cosmic kill joy, power hungry ogre, or distant clock maker. Nor is He an easy pushover who loves and accepts every ridiculous and childish attitude, belief, and behavior. Why do you think Jesus had such harsh words for the religious leaders of the day? It was because they misrepresented YHWY time and time again. And they lorded their power over the little people.

Parenting and teaching our children is one of the greatest opportunities to be like God. Personally, I think that YHWY uses fatherly language in order to redeem those hurt by their earthly fathers. Wisdom in the book of Proverbs is described by feminine pronouns. Wisdom is God too. In fact, that’s Jesus who was very much a man. Stop letting your bad experience with a certain parent or gender give you the excuse to continue in ignorance as to who the real true living God really is.

Then, after you have your own personal identity as a redeemed child of the King of Kings who repents because you are so overwhelmed with this new found inheritance grow up. Leave the childish understanding and simplified ways to think, believe, and act behind. Then listen to your children regardless of their age. Guide and raise them appropriately according to their individual needs, not according to assembly line robots. It’s YOU the parent who can make the difference not the school choice. Listen to your son or daughter. Guide and direct them. Most importantly point them to their perfect Heavenly Father when you inevitable fail them.

#homeschool #privateschool #religiousabuse #christianevangelism #churchcamp #parenting

Lessons from Mary Poppins

Motivational Children’s Songs

Don’t, No DO Talk to Strangers

Part of my drive to write is to help others uncover the lies that bind and choke them from living to the fullest.  One of these lies is Don’t Talk to Strangers.

One of my sweet violin students aptly said one day during lessons that _________ (a very powerful company in the entertainment industry) tells girls not to talk to strangers unless they are handsome princes.   She was summarizing a powerful meme she saw.

We proceeded to discuss how girls are primed in modern culture to be attracted to narcissistic men through their good looks and deceitful charm portrayed in many a movie and TV show.   Since I was raised on these foolish romantic fantasies, it has taken me some time to understand why many a good guy called these movies “Chick flicks” and vehemently scoffs at them.

Likewise children are taught to not talk to strangers.  The year 2020 certain reinforced this with their mask mandates and social distancing.  Rather, I am going to discuss why people should talk to some (not all) strangers based on my encounters in the last 10 days.  I have many more,  but for this particular blog I am going to highlight two encounters that have similar inspiration.

First, we stopped at a rest stop on I-95 after 11 hours  of driving.  My immediate response to seeing  an old man standing at the entrance of the women’s room was one of concern.  However,  he immediately spoke and explained  that he was standing there so that he could help his wife in wheelchair when she needed it.  So,  I offered to help as well.   At first I thought I would assist her, but then I realized I needed to help him safely help her instead by standing watch outside of the women’s room to any new comer.

When all were finished they thanked us and we enjoyed becoming acquainted.   Hudson is 90 years old.  Esther is 91.  She recently succumbed to using a wheel chair, but they were still out on a trip on May 16, 2021!  We were so inspired that they were out and about.  And delighted to find out they maybe our new prospective neighbors in South Florida.   They literally live and have lived for 30+ years three blocks away from the house we were hoping to win a contract on.  Esther and Hudson confirmed that the location was great and would fulfill all the conveniences I was hoping for.  Unfortunately, we lost the contract, but we gained some amazing friends of whom we are in contact with.

The second encounter happened this past week at Walmart.  A woman apologized for being in my way as I browsed the cereal selection.  I assured her no apology was needed, but used this a gateway to further conversation.   Wow here is another woman defying the odds of age.   Kathi is 71 years old, looking great, happily smiled for this photo and approved that I use it and is still working a real job! Kathi

She did retire, but decided to go back to work and secured this professional IT job at 67 years of age!  Wahoo!  Go Kathi!!! She had no worries of age discrimination nor sex discrimination.   And what kind of job is she doing?  Would it be the kind we are told is dominated by young white males???  Ahem, her current boss also doesn’t want her to retire! She, her supervisor, values that she knows her stuff and provides value that won’t be easy to replace.

How many of us are told that we are getting old and can’t, can’t, can’t, should, should, should or shouldn’t shouldn’t shouldn’t?  Then we’re also told to run to the health care professionals for every little ailment and cry like a baby?  This is entitlement thinking that I am so glad to finally recognize in myself so that I can repent of it and choose so much better like Harry,  Elaine, and Kathi.  How about you?

*While I am advocating talking to strangers, I am not encouraging FOOLISH discourse with them. Some strangers are worthy to engage with and others are not.   I hope to write in another blog or book what this discernment looks like and how to teach it to our children.  I too have been approached while traveling by creeps that  clearly had wicked motives behind their attempts to converse.  I immediately sought support by others in the nearest business of the parking lot where one man in particular approached me.  Please use good judgement.

Which Character Are You in the Truman Show?


Classics, whether it be a movie, book, TV show, or music album merit the honor because they communicate a story that speaks to ALL of us as humans IF we are willing to Listen and Learn. Specifically in books, theater, and the movies, this is accomplished through character staging and development.

Those who follow my blog already know, I often write on various Disney productions such as:

Beauty and the Beast

FrozenMary PoppinsPrincess and the FrogRapunzel, and Warner Brothers’  Wonder Woman, but today I will be focusing on Paramount’s Truman Show which I borrowed from a local public library and is available for rent on Hulu.

Truth, Family, and Super Heroes

One of the popular social media trends is personality quizzes.  ProProfs created one for The Truman Show.  Since character development, commonly referred to as growing-up,  is the reason I write about movies and books, I took the quiz.  But, something strange occurred.   The results did not line up with what I know to be true personally.  Rather the quiz results labeled me up with who I would rather be, not who I identified with as I watched it last night. It is the old fantasy verses reality tension.  People just do not want to face their own faults, be bothered with emotional messiness with complicated human relationships, get dirty, or feel pain.  Most desire health, wealth, personal convenience and selfish pleasure.

Think about it, what does social media tempt with?  It temps one to think and choose like our common ancestors,  Adam and Eve, that one can be her/his own influential gods who vie for self-serving power at the expense of lording it over others while manipulating their praise. through our social media accounts.  It is all about how one feels just like Narcissus when he became infatuated with his self image reflecting back from the water.

In Rojo, The Baby Red Panda at the Zoo, Mama teaches Rojo that this immature way of thinking while normal is not helpful in the adult world.  It will lead to broken friendships, divorce, and job loss if not grown out of.   Circling back to social media.  Many do use it to promote self, but not all do.

Some use it to stay in touch with friends and family by posting about what they and their family are up to.  Others post mostly to influence politically or religiously.  Some people want to encourage and educate.  These various motives come in colorful mixtures with a myriad of rationales. The personal character test is how honest are we with ourselves regarding our motives?  This is really what a great teacher, named Jesus was pointing out in his Sermon on the Mount.  Isn’t this also what Martin Luther King Jr.  meant when he said, ” I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character?”   Or was that smoke and mirrors to promote something else?

It is motives that make us humble or proud people.  When used as adjectives in this sense, judging other people’s motives is dangerous water to cross.   Motives reveal a person’s heart not their actions.  In fact, actions are what Jesus taught were to be judged! Seriously, read on in the rest of this speech.  In many modern Bibles these verse are subtitled: A Tree and Its Fruit.

So, I close with this challenge to you while we all world wide are dealing with a virus who’s identity or name started as corona virus, which ironically means king’s crown virus, and has shape shifted into the politically correct  COVID-19, which character are you playing right now for real similar to the Truman Show?  Are you  Truman, the one being played while others are entertained, confident in secure job, the mother, the wife, the best friend, director of the show, or the hero, Meryl who is willing to accept the consequences to stop the drama by trying to get Truman to wake up and figure out the game?

I said earlier last week on Face Book that lack of education is an understandable excuse but it weakens each day we live because life is teaching.  The question is are you willing to listen and learn?  Or are you going to kick, scream, and quit?


#characterdevelopment #narcisim #recoveryfromnarcisicrelationship #naiveblindness

Family Theatrical Drama



The first week of March I received an email announcing auditions for an upcoming performance with A-KEEP Alabama Korean Education Economic Partnership.  Given that we were in the middle of “tech week” for ADT Alabama Dance Theater‘s production of Cinderella we really did not need to have my daughter perform in any more shows.  However, being the seize the teaching opportunistic home school mother that I am, I could not resist.

I have a heart for people around the world, their cultures, and history.  Given that we had recently read The Korean Pentacost, this audition was something I found time for.  To be able to interact with real people whose English might be no better than our Korean is a learning experience to enjoy as it is the closest experience to traveling to the Asian country itself.  Plus Bruce Hunt’s (the author of The Korean Pentacost) account of the Christians in Korea in 1907 gave me a reverence for people of such courageous faith.  *Little did I know that we too would have a unique opportunity to demonstrate ours.  During this time news about COVID-19 impacting the United States through  New York City was just starting to emerge.

Since one of my projects years ago when I worked in the pharmaceutical industry was to work with infectious disease medical thought leaders about a new drug to treat influenza called zanamivir I had been scouring through the CDC’s web site for information about this new strain of coronavirus.  I recalled what these thought leaders taught about how quickly a pandemic could spread throughout the world given our modern travel habits.  I knew it was a matter of time before it would be a local issue.

I sent an email expressing my concern and was relieved that the leadership at A-KEEP was on top of it.  We attended the first rehearsal, received and signed papers to ensure all steps were being taken to protect the health of all involved.  The following week rehearsals were moved to an online virtual platform.  Approximately two weeks later the show was postponed until the end of August.

Weekly virtual meetings became one of our few contacts with the outside world of our home.  I was busy following all the stay at home orders and shopping only once a month to feed our household.  But then it hit me.  Seeing Dr. Fauci with the president on video one day reminded me that I once shook his hand and presented him preliminary new product data with him and many of his colleagues.

I remembered that they are humans vulnerable to pride to fill their curriculum vitae’s with publications, speaking engagements, referrals, and political advancement within the medical and local communities of which they partake.  They are subject to the quality and quantity their subordinate researchers support them with.  The accuracy and speed of their testing equipment limits and sometimes fails them.  And most of all the statisticians can “cook the books” or power their studies to say just about whatever the writer of the hypothesis really wanted to prove.   A professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center taught me to be careful of the latter.  He repeated frequently, “Figures lie and lairs figure.” Interestingly, his family origins are Korean.

Those 10 weeks of almost complete isolation (except for grocery store excursions) also helped me to reflect on what I believed. I wrote about uncertainty.

Uncertainty Has Always Been the Reality

I wrote about manners.

Manners May Be Key to Getting Through Crisis

I found inspiration in the wild flowers.

Turn to the Wildflowers to Lessen Your Anxiety

I even wrote about turtles.

Let’s Talk Turtle: Don’t stick you neck out

This time of reflection reminded me who created me with an amazing immune system within.  I had memorized Psalm 103 years ago.  It kept coming to mind.  So did Genesis 50Romans 8:28, and Psalm 139.  I know like Job that naked I came into the world and in same manner will go out.   I often sing the hymn My Times Are in Thy Hand.  Lastly, I agree with what missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool to give up that which he cannot keep.”  It’s a great summary of what Jesus taught in the Matthew 6:19-21.  So the show must go on and we stayed in.

Meanwhile, others started to drop out.  The first woman who was casted as Nolbu’s wife left.  My daughter filled in by reading her lines during one of the virtual rehearsals.  She did a great job and looked old enough so cast hence the first cast change was made.

A little less than a handful of other community members selected as cast remaining showed up for the first in-person meeting at the end of July masked up to comply with state mandates.  The room was very spacious which allowed in excess of 6 feet distance between people.  But each week fear persuaded these locals outside of A-KEEP staff to drop out one by one except for my daughter.  We were healthy and had no reason to bow out in fear.  We made a commitment and were capable of keeping it.

Others were either not capable or willing and waited very late in the timeline to announce they were dropping out as late as tech week!  So that Monday night after I already committed to adjusting costumes down stairs, I was asked to narrate.  But I had to sew.  Tuesday we found out that Heunbu’s wife would now play Nolbu (weird, but OK this practice goes back to Shakespeare performances) and a goblin/towns person would play Heunbu’s wife.  A grown woman would play the part of the Heunbu’s daughter. But there was no time to run through the entire script.  So Wednesday was our first time almost all together, but we found out that the Father would not be participating.  Ahem, I guess I can read like a man for a few lines.  Thursday’s rehearsal was filled with stops and starts.  The only time we made it through the entire show was for the live stream on Friday evening.


The show did go on and managed to mostly work for the live stream.  The theme behind the tale is a timeless classic of a greedy older brother and wife’s abuse of position of power with a younger humble brother accepting and looking for the good in his low position.  A lovely bird is the means to bless, bring justice, and motivate personal change.

So in closing, may we too repent of wicked attitudes of entitlement, choose to find good, and keep the lyrics of the song alive in our daily spirit. “All little town awake and sing. Joy to our neighbors let us bring.  Hello neighbor, ahn-nyoung-has-yo  Everybody knows each other’s name.  We all are different and same.  Come!  Let us all begin our day with open hearts and open hands.  All are welcome.”

Lastly, I would like to thank Ms. Hahn for encouraging Keith Parks, Miss Shim, and the staff at A-KEEP to include us, to teach us, to preserve, and make this show possible.  You can watch a recording of it here A-KEEP A Tale of Two Brothers.

Further Reading:

Jim Elliot Biography

*Our opportunity paled in comparison to what happened in 1907 in Korea.

#Overcome #Nofear #Faithfulness #Hope #StageStories #Homeschoolmom