All posts by Juggler


There’s been a lot of discussion in my household lately. I’m counting myself fortunate because my husband is an awesome man will put up with me needing to say things out loud until they make sense. He can reason well and is willing to walk down hard conversational roads as we sort through the things we know from Scripture, what we been taught, and what we’ve learned from just plain living.

We talk and talk and talk as we drive to soccer tournaments, as we walk to get the mail together. We talk as we set up a temporary goat barn for our daughter’s 4H projects, as we start the horrendously long process of weeding the garden and prepping it for summer growth. We wrestle through comments that have been made to me lately in person, online, or via text messages. We sort through the ideas and the research. Bless this man and thank you, Lord, for bringing us together!

One comment that keeps coming up in our conversation is that I have been repeatedly called “divisive.”

When I was first called divisive I was truly hurt. “Divisive” has an ugly connotation and I have spent the years being supportive and a builder of programs. It felt like I was maligned and misunderstood.

So my main man and I, we talked about that divisive word. I stewed and pondered. My husband, though, he went straight to Scripture and told me: “Truth is divisive. It’s intended to be that way because deception is often so close to the truth that people get fooled.”

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12, 13

The truth is designed to be divisive. It is not comfortable.

But, I argued with him, aren’t we also called to live at peace with other believers when at all possible?

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12: 18, 19

“Are you trying to take revenge? Or are you trying to identify and reveal truth?’ he asked me.

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about the amount of liability that I and my friends have taken on in pursuit of serving a community of home educators. One friend texted me, “I just read the post about Liability and I think I pooped my pants a little. How did I not know this was a thing?!” Another person messaged me and said, “Please, you need to stop posting all of this dirty laundry. It’s divisive and unbecoming of a Christian, you’re only making yourself look bad.”

Here’s the deal. I haven’t been at the table with the main decision makers to discuss the nuances of specific policies and how they play out within liability and such. So I might very well be wrong! If I’m wrong, I’m not at all scared to say I’ve messed up and do everything in my power to correct it.

But what I can say is that when things are hidden, when there are half truths or not the full story, it is a sign of deception. Deception is not a tool of the Holy Spirit and half-truths insult the listener as much as a full on intentional lie.

Deception is designed to be comfortable and alluring. It poo-poos concerns and casts aspersions on the character and sanity of the one asking questions.

I live in an area where there are cults everywhere. I grew up literally three houses down from a cult that believes in communal living and that their leader has been reincarnated throughout the ages as various famous people from Alexander the Great to the Apostle Paul. These folks show up at every garage sale in the neighborhood.

My hometown is filled with folks who drop by in droves to have their aura read, visit the vortex, and check their produce in the grocery store with magical crystals to be certain their energy is in alignment.

You think I’m kidding. I’m really not.

So perhaps because of growing up in an area clearly rife with people who have been deceived, maybe I’m a little more comfortable with trying to discern truth and taking the time to sort through the marketing ploys to find the kernels of real. I don’t know.

But I do know I have intentionally chosen the classical model so that my children and I can learn how to ask hard questions in pursuit of the Truth and wrestle with big ideas. To do less than that is to refuse to utilize all of the tools the Lord has given us.

In the past few weeks, my intent in speaking up is not to do anything except reveal what has been explained to me as a half truth and figure out the whole truth. I’m not trying to be divisive or destructive.

(If you went and talked to any of my previous employers you would find I have a track record of trying to preserve the current establishment and fix the problems rather than tear everything down and start from scratch.)

(I guess you could say I’m better at a remodel than a new build.)

(They also would say that I’m a really difficult person to manage because I ask a lot of questions so that I understand the why of something. Once I understand the why, however, I’m extraordinarily loyal.)

(And because I know this is a question from the naysayers, I tried to speak to people privately. Yes. Repeatedly. Without success in the last year because people were too busy. And, honestly, probably with less success now because I’m being labeled a “tool of Satan” and “contentious.”)

So be it.

When I’m told that I just don’t understand the whole story, in the absence of any other details, it’s in my nature to attempt to figure out the whole story using the tools I have at my disposal. I am trained as a journalist. I learned how to research and use public records. I investigate, I interview, I try to connect the dots and figure out the timelines because I know that we rarely experience events in isolation.

When that investigation results in new information that I hadn’t realized – common practices put my family at risk and that I have personally promoted over the years… I feel compelled to share with others that this is a THING so that they can learn from my mistakes.

That is a working result of repentance.

That is loving my neighbors as myself.

And, when that comes out in opposition to others, it feels really divisive. I get that and I’m genuinely sorry for “rattling the gates of Hell” as one person sent me in a message.

But here’s the deal: Would you rather be uncomfortable and have wisdom? Or comfortable and at risk?

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved


I’ve been doing research on liability. This is a term we throw around a lot, it has the ability to make my stomach queasy and my innards clench, but I needed more definition of what liability actually looks like in a real life situation.

Because, let’s face it. Life is risky. We’re walking around this world as a mostly liquid mass held together by a bundle of skin that isn’t exactly the strongest thing ever. I tell my kids to be careful with water balloons all the time – in many ways we’re just large water balloons zipping around in cars that go 80 mph regularly!

Life is fragile friends. We live with that knowledge every day.

So what about the phrase “liability” gives me heartburn? How do some situations make more of a difference than others?

Let’s define our terms and see if this really is a monster.

Personal Liability: “Being personally liable” means that a plaintiff who wins a court judgement against your business can satisfy it out of your personal assets, like your bank account, home, or automobile simply because of your status as an owner of the business.” (Personal Liability | Digital Media Law Project)

As a small business owner, you have choices of how you can establish yourself. I know a whole bunch of ladies who are operating as small business owners for their home education communities, as I did myself. I don’t personally know anyone who is classified as anything other than a sole proprietor but I understand that those friends, as of last week, might have an option to sign their licensing contracts as an LLC. There could be some major benefits to that!

Let me use other professional’s words to explain why your legal classification matters:

Sole Proprietorship: “A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common structure chosen to start a business. It is an unincorporated business owned and run by one individual with no distinction between the business and you, the owner. You are entitled to all profits and are responsible for all your business’s debts, losses and liabilities… ” (Sole Proprietorship | US Small Business Administration) Read: this is the riskiest way to have a business because there are no safety nets.

LLC. “One of the main purposes of an LLC is to provide liability protection for the members and managers. Unlike some other business structures, such as a sole proprietorship, an LLC structure protects the personal assets of the owners from business liability.” (What is the Purpose of an LLC? | Legal Zoom) Read: this is a safer way to hold a business because there is at least a little protection against liability.

“If you’re a sole proprietor, there is no legal divide separating your personal assets from those of your business. If you’re sued, that can spell trouble. That’s why many sole proprietors opt to incorporate as a limited liability company (LLC).” (Why LLCs Need Liability Insurance as Much as Sole Proprietors | Insureon)

So why isn’t everyone an LLC?

“LLCs require more paperwork upfront than a sole proprietorship and will add a degree of difficulty to your taxes. … {AND} your LLC can still be sued and be liable for huge sums of money, which is why it’s still smart to carry liability insurance policies such as General Liability Insurance and Errors and Omissions Insurance.” (Why LLCs Need Liability Insurance as Much as Sole Proprietors | Insureon)

Before we go into a discussion of insurances, it’s fair to see what liabilities might exist for a small business owner anyway.

What types of things have I done as an independent small business owner?

I’ve contracted tutors. (Potential areas for liability are whether those tutors are correctly classified as independent contractor or employees, whether they have ever been alone with a student in a classroom, etc.)

I’ve established relationships with churches for meeting space. (Potential areas for liability are whether the church is at risk of losing their property tax exemption for hosting a for-profit business, who is responsible if someone falls off the playground equipment, who is responsible if plaster of paris is poured down the pipes, etc.)

I’ve recruited students for a program and provided tutoring services to families. (Potential areas for liability are whether the tutors I’ve contracted are presenting the program with integrity and making parents feel like they are receiving what they paid for, whether I’ve background checked all tutors and nursery workers to ensure the safety of the students, etc.)

So I’ve established that in my own small home education business I had some distinct areas of liability.

What’s the worst case scenario? Let’s look at a few:

Misclassifying Workers. “‘Misclassifying employees as independent contractors and failing to provide W-2 forms can subject an employer to back taxes of as much as 41.5%* of the contractors’ wages, according to the IRS. And these penalties can go back for three years.’ If the IRS thinks you intentionally misclassified workers they may seek a criminal conviction with up to a year in jail and a fine as high as $500,000 for a corporation. Plus you get the label “tax evader.” The independent contractor themselves may be audited and may be forced to repay any business deductions they took during that time.” (Do you know the penalties for improperly classifying employees as Independent Contractors? | SHRM Blog)

Unintended Accidents. I live in fear that one of the kids I work with will do something ridiculous and kid-like and end up getting seriously injured. My thoughts always go to the McDonald’s “hot coffee” case. The case wasn’t actually a frivolous lawsuit – “The coffee was not just “hot,” but dangerously hot. McDonald’s corporate policy was to serve it at a temperature that could cause serious burns in seconds. Mrs. Liebeck’s injuries were far from frivolous. She was wearing sweatpants that absorbed the coffee and kept it against her skin. She suffered third-degree burns (the most serious kind) and required skin grafts on her inner thighs and elsewhere.” Only after her own medical insurance maxed out and refused to complete the treatment she needed to be able to walk, she went to McDonalds to ask them for help paying her treatment costs. How many of the families that I have served have medical insurance? I have never asked. But if something happens while at our meetings, as a sole proprietor, I could be liable for their costs.(The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case | Consumer Attorneys of California)

This is far from an exhaustive list, but it is compelling that there’s enough here for me to consider looking into whether my family could sustain such a hit of “liability.” As I look at our own finances… a lawsuit could sink us, even if we’re found not responsible the costs and fees associated with a suit would be devastating to my family.

So… insurance would be something for me to consider.

Small Business Liability Insurance: “Every business, even if home based, need to have liability insurance. The policy provides both defense and damages if you, your employees or your products or services cause or are alleged to have caused Bodily Injury or Property Damage to a third party.” (13 Types of Insurance a Small Business Owner Should Have | Forbes)

This is separate from the policy I took out to cover the interests of the facility I was privileged to meet within. Small Business Liability Insurance would cover PERSONAL LIABILITY which is so important because I signed up as a SOLE PROPRIETOR.

I would also consider Professional Liability Insurance. “The policy provides defense and damages for failure to or improperly rendering professional services.  Your general liability policy does not provide this protection, so it is important to understand the difference. ” (13 Types of Insurance a Small Business Owner Should Have | Forbes)

So if I am running a tutoring service and something happens that prevents me from providing the service offered – maybe a freak snowstorm kept us from meeting multiple weeks, perhaps a tutor quit, who knows what might happen? – Errors & Omissions insurance would protect me from Professional Liability.

Hm… guess what? If I contract my tutors as independent contractors, they aren’t a part of my personal E&O policy. They have no professional relationship with me except to perform their contracted duties so my insurance policy wouldn’t cover them.

So I would say that the tutors I contracted as Independent Contractors should consider taking out an insurance policy to cover their actions in the classroom. I mean, who’s to blame if someone brings a peanut butter cracker into the class for snacks and the kiddo with the nut allergy smells it and goes into anaphylactic shock and has to be hospitalized for treatment? The student who was a minor? Or the adult who was overseeing the meeting time? I suppose a court would be able to decide although it will take awhile: “Civil court trials take longer and are typically set for trial a year or 18 months after being filed. Criminal trials are set sooner since the defendant has a right to a speedy trial. The process of a lawsuit takes time.” (Why Does A Lawsuit Take So Long? | Miller Law)

Finally, how can all of this affect my family? Well, business issues could affect your personal credit score. Credit scores are used as part of the evaluation process for all sorts of things from insurance rates to rental verifications.

Additionally, any claims filed against any insurance policy will follow you for years: “‘There’s a significant correlation between claims that are made and future additional likelihood of claims being made,’  says Chris Hackett, senior director of personal lines policy at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. You can request one free copy of your C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) Personal Properly report, which includes all the claims you’ve filed in the past seven years. The report includes date of the loss, type of loss and the amount paid out to cover the claim. McChristian says the amount of the claim may be less important than the reason for the claim. (16 factors that affect homeowners insurance rates |

No one knows what the future holds, except that we do know that the Bible tells us to expect persecution for living in a Christian way. Being IN the world but not OF the world does not release us from a responsibility to understand how the world does business.

A careful review of my previous contracts revealed that I was carrying 100% liability for all of the actions I took for my small business, even though I was doing it under direction and authority of my licensing agreement.

There is legally no calvary riding to the rescue if something goes wrong according to the contract I signed.

Having explored liability with more thoroughness, I can now make wiser decisions than I have in the past. What a gift! I’d encourage every person who is exploring their options to do the same!

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

What God Can Do With Leftovers

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I saw a flood of recognition everywhere I went – the grocery store, social media, in restaurants packed with families, even at the soccer fields we were haunting the players gave their mothers roses at the end of the game in recognition of their status and sacrifice.

Moms matter.

Isn’t it funny, then, that Moms often feel invisible?

That Moms often feel inadequate?

My sister, who is very wise, once stopped me mid-pity party and said,

“You know, there is no ONE way to be a perfect mother. But there are THOUSANDS of ways to be a good mother.”

She is so right! Within our Pinterest world and desire to sanitize the mess of living, we forget that life, lived to its fullest, is often messy. It’s far from perfect, and that all of us wear multitudes of hats and are stretched in different directions every single day.

The mom of three that I sat next to during the soccer games this weekend? She works full time. She’s taking college classes to earn an accounting degree and just turned in her last final. And her kitchen sink sprang a leak that caused extensive damage so she’s had to do dishes in the bathroom sink for weeks while they make the repairs.

She feels guilty that she’s not giving her all to every area of her life. That the leftovers of time and energy are inadequate and she’s failing.

I don’t see that at all. I’m seeing that she’s supportive and showing resilience and dedication to following through on commitments she’s made.

If you consider that each responsibility she has is a main dish at a dinner table, I applaud that she has been able to do a lot of managing life and pulling it together with the leftovers from those dishes!

For those who are pursuing Christianity, we always talk about putting things in the proper order. Mary Kay Ash had a motto that it should always be “God, Family, Work,” in that order.

By capitalizing on that philosophy, Mary Kay was able to take the leftovers of women’s everyday lives and build a multi-million dollar company and pass out pink Cadillacs.

(I personally lived in a home during college that had pink bathroom counters so the Mary Kay products would match better. Dude – you know you have arrived when people make their bathroom countertop decisions based on how it will match your toiletry products.)

My point is that maybe moms should be a little kinder and gentler to themselves. Instead of pushing for perfection and being the super mom, let’s move toward being a mom who puts the priorities in order, then dedicates the leftover energy and enthusiasm to whatever God calls us to do for this season.

There are success stories everywhere that reveal what can be done with the leftover bits of time and energy that are dedicated to an ordained purpose.

A home education company built on mainly women who served with the bits of time and energy leftover from caring for their families has become the “Walmart of education.”

The book that was written in increments while caring for a newborn and managing grief.

The man who was crippled and chose to train his body by just consistently showing up one day after another.

The community garden that is grown by pulling weeds every day after work and ends up changing the landscape of an area.

Even when we can’t focus as thoroughly as the perfectionist in us would like, our leftovers are valuable and shouldn’t be discarded. First fruits belong to God. But so do second and third fruits. He’s creative and will enhance your efforts in a special way.

So do something with the leftovers – they can change the world if you let them!

What has been accomplished through the dedication of YOUR leftovers? Let us know in the comments!

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

Weekly Top 5 (5.12.19)

The Top 5 Posts that Brought You Here this Week

Sundays are a rest day as much as possible, so in honor of that, I’ll simply list the top five postsat have gotten traffic this week.

In case you missed anything awesome, here they are!

Weekly Top 5

  1. Ministry and Money. “With homeschooling – or really anything we identify as a ministry – the savvy consumer isn’t looking quite so hard to find the deception in the spin. This is why it hurts so badly to learn that the motivations of others might be different than our own.”
  2. My Community is Closing – Now What?! “The lovely thing about the classical model that many folks in communities have been experiencing, and that the natural tendencies of home educators is to look beyond what is easily provided for them, is that no topic is unapproachable to you! You have all the skills needed to approach this lack of community problem, tackle it methodically, and find success!”
  3. Gaslighting – What Is It? “When an organization changes its practices regularly, it lends itself to situations where gaslighting can occur easily. When an organization preaches humility to it’s leadership – which is a good thing – it lends itself to difficulty thinking a differing opinion is allowed to exist. When leaders speak down to you, or tell you that you just don’t understand from the correct perspective – without giving you the tools to see it from “the right perspective” – it sets up an unhealthy, abusive relationship.”
  4. You Want the Reasons We Have Left CC. “Our family has made the decision to leave Classical Conversations permanently. Illogical accusations and unlawful expectations from our state leadership are the straw that has broken the camels back, but, to be honest, the business practices and philosophy changes have caused me heartburn for quite awhile. We have been praying that God would be extremely clear if He wanted us to change anything and He’s been so faithful! It’s become quite obvious that He’s ready to move us in a new direction.”
  5. Stewarding Batman & Silencing Fear. “This counts for all relationships (although parenting is often most present on my mind these days). Marriages, friendships, co-workers, the cashier at Walmart… Persons need space to be able to be themselves, authentically loved even when they’re messy, inconvenient, different from us, and maybe even sometimes a little embarrassing (a la my tiny Batman at the feed store).”

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

Identity From the ROCK

We’re traveling this weekend – its our last travel soccer tournament of the year. Once we checked into the hotel the girls turned on the tv and located the Disney Channel. We tuned in as Moana and Maui were having their big fight.

Maui tells Moana that he won’t help her restore the heart of Tafiti. They argue, he (rather melodramatically) leaves, and Moana gives up the heart to the ocean and begs to be released from her calling.

For me, things get a little dodgy from a spiritual aspect at this point, but following the tradition of the Polynesian after life philosophy, Moana meets with her Grandmother’s spirit. They talk.

Moana moves from hopelessness to courage as she sings identity statements:

“I am the daughter of the village chief, we are descended from voyagers Who found their way across the world, they call me.

I’ve delivered us to where we are, I have journeyed farther

I am everything I’ve learned and more – still it calls me

And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me…”

This is a musically powerful moment for the whole movie, a climax of intention, a moment when Moana owns that she has a job to do and will do it… or perish trying.

I could criticize this scene from a theological perspective, but I will instead choose to lay that argument to the side for now. Because, there, tucked within an animated movie, I see Truth.

We are all looking for Identity. We all get lost sometimes.

We tend to look for others to solve our problems for us, as Moana did with Maui. Solving problems takes effort, it takes time, it is rewarding but often not so much fun. It is only under duress, in a hopeless situation, that Moana finds the courage to step forward into her calling.

That is me. And I suspect that is you. (I believe that’s part of the human DNA. Welcome to Earth, third rock from the Sun.) I’m going to talk about this as a “me” description because I don’t want to assume (you know what THEY say about assumptions) but I believe that my “I” in this journey is pretty much across the board a “we.”

One of the reasons I was so passionately engaged in our homeschool journey is that when I was a leader in the organization I felt needed. Parenting has been wonderful for me but it’s just not the same fulfillment that I gained as a professional. There is a difference between looking at a colleague and knowing you’ve done good work and observing a toilet bowl and telling your toddler, “Well done! No mess in the diaper this time!” When my professional identity dissolved into the identity of care taking, as much as I passionately love the kids, I floundered.

Working within the company I gained identity and purpose that felt bigger than just me. I studied and learned the system so I could have helpful answers. I formed my new identity around my role and I was immensely grateful to be in a para-professional position, where I could still think about things other than whether I was making taquitos or peanut butter and jelly for lunch for the hungry horde at our kitchen table.

I stepped away from a regional role at the end of 2017 after five fulfilling and also taxing years. At that time a dear and precious friend gave me a challenge as a benediction: “Don’t do anything for at least a year. Learn how to be still.”

Still? Was that a joke?! I don’t do still. But I valued that friend and I knew she had my best interests at heart. So I tried.

I took up crochet.

I read books. Whole series of books. Then I read them again so the characters would become my friends.

I said No to leadership roles in civic organizations.

I learned, painfully, slowly, imperfectly, to sit still with myself. To look myself in the mirror and practice loving what I saw there with the same, whole love that God sees me.

I saw a monkey of perfectionism perched on my back so firmly embedded that I might need a surgical removal. I recognized a deep, deep grief from the passing of my father that I have made peace with but I doubt will ever go away. I came face to face with a limited body that can’t work as hard as my will.

For awhile I gave up. On all of it. We lived in a house of squalor. We stopped observing bedtimes, the laundry piled high, I was resentful.

Once I let her see it, my sister held my hand and helped me to my feet again. My bestie sat next to me and crocheted. She sat at a table and did Henle Latin with our daughters while I stopped changing out of my pajamas and showering. She never left me, even when I was smelly.

For awhile, I stole their faith in me because I had no faith in myself. I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. I had been running so hard for so long I didn’t know how to just be anymore.

Then, day by day, I started identifying who I am based not on how I could perform, but based on who I am as a human. I’m still not done, but this time I’m doing my best to build my identity on things that aren’t circumstantial.

I am loved. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 I didn’t know how much God loves me until I met my own children. I love you all, friends, but I wouldn’t sacrifice one of my children for you. I just wouldn’t. But God did. For ME. And Jesus, knowing what was to come, chose to follow through with it because He wanted to spend eternity with me. You and I, friend – we are so truly, passionately, perfectly loved!

I am His. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10. God doesn’t do anything subpar. It’s not in His nature. He chose us, He created us, and (if Genesis 1:31 can be trusted – which it can!) – He sees what He has made and it is Very Good.

I am worthy. God didn’t make a mistake in giving me the gifts I possess. There are things I don’t do as well as others. And there are things I have been given that are unique to me. I am worthy of those gifts. I am worthy of being heard. I am precious and privileged. Those statements, as much as I cringe to make them because they feel arrogant, are true of every human on the planet. That is humility talking. We are worthy. Why? Go back to the first two points: God loves us and we are His. We are worthy because it pleases God to find us worthy. It’s just that simple.

I am purposed. I am called. I prayed persistently for decades of childhood and young adulthood that God would grant me the gift of discernment. He has done that. It freaks me out sometimes that I can see Truth in things that are ordinary to others, but it’s because God gave me purpose and that’s to use my “Spidey-sense” to serve others. He has a purpose for each of us and it’s one He wants us to choose. Do we have to do it? Nope. But we won’t find peace if we ignore the calling. We are purposed to further His glory in a way that is unique and special, individual to our giftings.

All of these “I” statements – they’re transferrable to you. One of the biggest reasons we stay the same, doing the same thing, is that changing is painful. When we don’t know who we are that fear of change become paralyzing because – even if we don’t like what’s happening now, we at least know the mess and can act within it.

What is the phrase? “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

I just want to encourage you to take the time to view yourself through God’s eyes. A friend I knew would say, “When God made you, He did GOOD work!” That, my friends, is TRUTH.

Now, the next step is to seek how you will best glorify Him. Ask him. Don’t worry, He’ll be faithful to let you know and present opportunities as needed and in His timing.

All you have to do is have the courage to take one step at a time!

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

Stewarding Batman & Silencing Fear

I let my kid go to the feed store dressed as Batman two days ago.

He’s old enough to know better.

People were staring. All the rancher-types we ran into, the ones who wear boots that have been worn hard and who have creases at the corners of their eyes from squinting, they looked twice, looked at me, and then kind of smiled.

Yesterday, the same kid wore six shirts.

I asked him, “Why?”

He answered, “It just felt right to me.”

I said, “Ok, I get that. But can you please not put the sandwich shirts, the four in the middle, into the laundry? When you get done with them, fold them and put them back in your drawer because they aren’t dirty.”

“Sure, mama!” he answered. And he did.

A few years ago our family attended a rabbit conference. Yep, those are a thing. You get with a whole bunch of other people who want to breed and raise rabbits that fit the show standards of one of the 49 distinct breeds of domestic rabbits in the US, it smells like hay and there are people holding rabbits everywhere, waiting to put their special competitor on the table for the judge to assess.

We spent time in the showroom with people we only know because of a shared affection for the lagomorph.

“I’ve never met a family quite like yours before,” said a fellow bunny lover.

“Oh no!” I said. “That could go in a lot of different ways. What do you mean? Have we scared you? Should I apologize? What did the kids say?!”

“No, it’s not that at all,” she said. “Each of your kids has a really distinct personality and it is given the space to exist within the family. I’ve never seen that before.”

Space to exist. Hm.

Friends, I can’t explain why I write the things I write. I’ve taken an almost-four year break from blogging and now I’m back at the daily posts. I don’t know if/when I will go back to my previously-typical posts about parenting, education, and the most bizarre news stories of the moment.

I don’t even have a true writing “process.” I usually sit down at the computer and just let my fingers start going. I wish I would plan. I see the kids doing key word outlines and ANI charts and I know that’s a logical and time saving way of writing. That my writing (and maybe my typo issues) would improve if I would do that a little.

But, so far it’s just not me. And I’m trying to do me, well. So I just sit down and write from the heart.

This morning, my heart is telling me two things:

One: Stewardship of persons is hard. This is not like hoarding all the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms box so you can eat them at once and enjoy their plasticy goodness. It’s not like throwing kernels of corn to the chickens, scattering them wildly to the wind.

Stewardship of persons, these little children, image-bearers of the Lord… stewardship of persons, to me, means giving the entities space to grow and bloom.

This counts for all relationships (although parenting is often most present on my mind these days). Marriages, friendships, co-workers, the cashier at Walmart… Persons need space to be able to be themselves, authentically loved even when they’re messy, inconvenient, different from us, and maybe even sometimes a little embarrassing (a la my tiny Batman at the feed store).

If I can love my husband well enough to encourage him to follow his passions – even if they aren’t my own – I’m stewarding a gift (my husband) that actually belongs to God and I only set my hands to for a life season. So I tend my marriage in a faulty but whole way, as best I can, with the best tools I have available each day.

If I can choose which battles to fight with these children, allow them the space to explore and create and test within a boundary that doesn’t allow them to forget the importance of community – I’m tending to my parenting. I will do it only adequately, many days. But I will continue to get up each day and make an effort to improve, because this is the job God has given to me for this life season and practice makes progress.

Our oldest is into goats right now. We have a milk goat I will help her tend in about three minutes, gently coaxing milk into a Tupperware bowl that matches the exact same bowl my father used to milk our goats growing up. The wild cats from the neighborhood have started showing up in our yard in 12-hour intervals, hoping for some milk to be spilled so they can lap it up enthusiastically.

The kids hope to tame those cats because they know I’ll never ok an intentional cat adoption around here. My allergies are too strong and I remember too clearly the demon cat of my childhood. I don’t know if these cats will ever be friendly to us but for the kids, hope springs eternal. I give the cats extra milk because it pleases me to see trust developing. It makes me think about trust in relationships to watch those cats. I see God’s fingerprint on their creation.

We tend to those we care about. We steward things that matter. If they don’t matter, there is no need to cultivate them.

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7

The second thought on my mind this morning: Fear is not of the Lord.

I am an anxious person. I don’t know that I have always been anxious, but in recent memory I have discovered that my ability to analyze and process things can cause paralysis. It seems I have to embrace the results of the worst case scenario before I can make a decision for action.

I second guess. I try to think of all angles. I try to extend grace and stay silent until I cannot NOT say something. And then I feel guilty for speaking, like my voice is not worthy to be heard. Like silence is the best policy.

As though the spirit of growth and space I actively cultivate in our home with the kids doesn’t apply to me. In our house, If the idea is not destructive and doesn’t involve glitter, we typically give it a shot. I struggle to offer that same openness to myself.

Fear, Anxiety. They are not the tools of the Holy Spirit and if I don’t call them by name and tell them, “STOP IT!” they can consume me. I must change this and support my gut, my “Spidey-sense” that is prompted by the Holy Spirit, with measured fervor. Fear is a silencer.

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:2-3

“…being fully assured that what God has promised, He was able also to perform.” Romans 4:21

So, in sum, I ask you, if you’re the praying type and still with me on this rambling journey, please pray for me.

Pray for words that should be written, that the Holy Spirit would whisper to my heart and give me the boldness to speak Truth into the lives of anyone who stumbles by this blog. Truth that isn’t about any one organization or thought process, but about this living of life, of ways we can do it better, and in a more wholesome and holy manner.

“‘And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. This is what’s important.'” – Iain Thomas

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Ministry and Money

Have I ever told you that I really like Chick-fil-A?

We got a Chick-fil-A location about four years ago in our town and it is wonderful. I love supporting them with my money because I feel a kinship to their company values, they serve a darn good piece of chicken, and their play area never smells like fungus.

My husband and I joke that Chick-fil-A is “Jesus Chicken” and how it’s “God’s Fast Food” so often I think our kids could be a little confused about whether those phrases are actually a company tag line or if their salvation might be at risk if they eat at KFC. (Just kidding.)

You know what else I like about Chick-fil-A? They clearly state their business and convictions, treat their employees well, and don’t create confusion with their motivation.

Could I get chicken somewhere else for a better price? Absolutely. But sometimes I choose with my feet and my wallet to participate in a chicken eating experience at Chick-fil-A without any guilt.

You see, we live in a world that is full of marketing, of words, words, words, as Dorothy Sayers puts it, and those words are used persuasively and effectively to lure folks into alignment with different principles.

You want to be a 21st century man? Use Gillette, because our razors are made by people who care about women.

You want to be a reasonable, wise parent? Use Luvs because parents who know what they’re doing choose Luvs.

Everywhere we go there are messages, packaged up into different wrappings, asking us to buy, to sell, to commit, to lead in different areas. They each offer a version of truth.

But their truth is not Truth with a capital “T.”

We can see the logic here, there is a “truth” for some that is not Truth with a capitol “T.” Truth with a capital “T” comes from God and a huge part of the training we give our children is to be skeptical of marketing, the truth with a lower case “t,” because it can be used to manipulate.

With this discernment, when I see Chick-fil-A just doin’ Chick-fil-A, goin’ to court over healthcare, standing firmly on their convictions as a private, for-profit company, I admire them. They rise in my esteem. I want to give them more of my money to eat their chicken and maybe even add a cup of fresh lemonade to my order.

Based on observation, it seems that honesty is a marketing technique that’s working for them. By standing for their convictions as a for-profit company, despite being constantly attacked by different agendas, Chick-fil-A has posted their highest quarters of earnings ever.

You see, even when people don’t agree with what you say, if you say it openly and honestly, they will step forward and call you respectable.

People know what they’re supporting when they drive up to Chick-fil-A. Jesus chicken and a helping of Southern hospitality. When you hand that cashier your money, you know you’re supporting a company that will fight for unborn children, Sunday Sabbath, and community development.

How may I serve you today?

Please, take my money.

On the flip side, you know what doesn’t work as a marketing technique? Taking advantage of customers with half truths. Leading people to believe that a company is a ministry with a motto like “Knowing God and Making Him Known” and operating as a ministry, but in reality being a for-profit million-dollar company.

Ya’ll, I’m tired of people promoting that Classical Conversations is a ministry. Yes, ministry is a by-product of what happens in many communities at a local level and a major reason why most of the Directors and middle-managers sign up for leadership, but there is major money being made within this company and people need to stop gasping in shock when they realize this.

(To be honest, the last Classical Conversations Sales Orientation I attended did explicitly state that they were a for-profit company and that the Support Representatives should be Sales Representatives… I remember the speaker standing in front of the room, and almost yelling “You are in Sales!” But because of the narrative previously, for so many years, my own bias, and the fact that the perfect candidate for the position is one who wants to serve as a comrade instead of a Sales Manager, I think that no one has really heard them or taken them seriously.)

So let me lay it out clearly here.

Classical Conversations is a company that is enjoying the profitability of doing business in a capitalistic country.

The Bortins make money and intend to make more.

Ministry is a by-product of that. The company enjoys the benefits of capitalism with a privately owned company that sells a product to home educators unlike anything else to date. That product – Classical, Christian curriculum modeled within community – has generated a significant amount of money.

Money can promote ministry. Ministry can make money.

Let’s elaborate.

Classical Conversations is a for-profit company and it is doing a reasonably good job of its business. CC is “a K through 12 educational services company that supports homeschoolers. CC helps facilitate like-minded families coming together “To know God and to make Him known.” CC has developed a copyrighted curriculum and they stock and sell products that support that curriculum. In addition they provide extensive training for all of the licensees that lead a Classical Conversations program. They also provide supplemental content online that can be accessed by families for a nominal subscription fee as well as an annual parent equipping free of charge.” (From the “Response to Anonymous Letter Sent to Churches” that was removed from circulation with the statement it hadn’t been fully vetted before publishing. It was also circulated by team leaders and was quoted in an email as recently as yesterday.)

Guys – they’re telling us what they’re doing pretty explicitly. But we’re hearing their words through the lens of our experiences. Because CC on a local level is a ministry to soooo many parents it’s really, really hard to recognize they’re actually a for-profit company intending to make a money off of the dollars we sacrifice and shave off of the weekly grocery budget for books and tuition.

We can’t cry foul when we’ve been gullible and swallowed the marketing ploy hook, line, and sinker.

“The great enemy of the Truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” ~ John F. Kennedy

Friends… stop believing the people who promote CC as an organization by moms and for moms. Just stop it. Take the rose-colored glasses off and look at things logically.

Firstly, let’s identify that this homeschooling market was so small for so many years that it wasn’t really worth marketing to so it became safe. We starting thinking we didn’t have to comparison shop and find the bargain. We were naive enough to think we had a safety net.

Twenty years ago there were approximately 850,000 homeschoolers across the US. But today, that number is closer to 1.8 MILLION children being homeschooled. Times are changing. Homeschooling is turning into BIG money. That means there is money to be made and there will be people coming along, eager to claim their piece of the prosperity pie.

‘Merica, baby.

Classical Conversations had about 120,000 students last year (2018), which is around 15% of the entire market share of homeschooling children in the US. The licensing fees they received per student ranged from $55-$345. Let’s be generous and on the cheaper side of the issue and say that each child is an average of $100.

That’s a $12 million dollar income from licensing fees. Easily.

Then look at the bookstore sales, which can range from $3,000-$20,000 PER PRACTICUM. There are approximately 600 practicums held each summer. Let’s, again, be on the low side and estimate an average of $5,000 in book sales per practicum, times 600, is about $3 million dollars. I’m guessing that practicums are the big money makers because of their timeliness and ability to purchase the books without shipping. So, OK, let’s guesstimate that bookstore sales the rest of the year are just another $3 million. So let’s say that we’re at (conservatively) $6 million in bookstore sales annually.

But wait, we aren’t done! There are practicum camp enrollments because this is a diverse company! In 2016 there were approximately 30,000 parents who attend practicums. So, let’s assume each parent enrolled at least one child in a camp at the going rate of $42/child (again, these are low numbers because there are often multiple children in camps from each family). We’ve got an additional $1.2 million.

Next, let’s think outside the box with how parents can support parents. Ah ha! CC Connected! The goal for 2016 was to have 10% of all families enrolled in CC Connected. At that time there were roughly 37,000 families in CC… so let’s stay with those numbers (assuming they’ve grown over the last three years and the goal was achieved), and say we’re looking at 3,700 families enrolled in CC Connected each month for at least $6/month. (My family personally has been enrolled in Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge for a grand total of $11/month.) So on the conservative side we’re seeing at least a $266K income on creative items developed by enrolled families using the resources (Guides, etc.) they have previously purchased, and uploaded for free to be helpful to the greater homeschooling community.

We’re up to a highly conservative estimate of $19.5 million in gross income each year.

I don’t know much of anything about Testing Services but I’m guessing they make money for the company or it wouldn’t be something CC pursues. Academic Transcripts and dual enrollments probably bring in a bit of money too.

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t a massive amount of expenses, and this post isn’t speaking about those expenses because I have no idea what a website costs, what the employment and payroll looks like, etc. I’m just saying that families are delusional when they defend this company as shoe string. It used to be shoe string. It is not any longer.

All of these things add up, so can we please stop the narrative that CC is a ministry only?! It’s a business, run by a man who has a business priority and is actively seeking ways to squeeze the profit out of a brilliant idea that meets a huge need for homeschoolers… in order to fund a pretty awesome National Athletic Village and Rugby in the U.S.

That’s all allowable. Absolutely. This is America, we praise and enjoy the success stories and I send the Bortins family a figurative high five from across the country for being awesome a what they do.


Can CC own that with the same enthusiasm as Chick-fil-A owns its Jesus Chicken? Can the people contracted by CC stop telling others that this is a ministry opportunity and own it as a business opportunity that, if done right, can benefit our children well?


Because here’s where the rub comes in. The people with boots on the ground, the heart of the organization, they aren’t in it for the money. And, frankly, they aren’t seeing much – if any – of that money in their own bank accounts.

They are doing what they do because they love their kids. Because they want this curriculum and the community for their families. Because they’ve seen the value in the curriculum and believe that homeschooling is a sacrificial area that the IRS will not bless you to pursue but that God will give you crowns in eternity for completing.

For the average person in leadership… they are not here for the money. They’re here because they believe they are devoting hours and hours to the greater good and homeschooling as a cause.

And, because those folks aren’t making anywhere close to millions (most of the time not even close to thousands), it kind of blows their minds when they realize there are actually millions being made.

You know what? I’ve played into promoting that attitude. I can’t tell you the number of times I approached someone with the Support Representative position with the words, “This isn’t about the money because you’ll work far more than your hours will be compensated. But you’ll know you’re helping fight the good fight, that the fields are ready to be harvested and you’re a part of it. It will be worth it. You’ll be protecting the future for your children and homeschooling and know this is something that God may have called you to do!”

When you present the God card it’s very hard to argue.

Lord help me.

Honestly, I still believe that the work I’ve done as a representative of this organization has made a difference. I have encouraged the mama who didn’t believe she ever could homeschool to know she has a hope and a community and that her children will be tomorrow’s leaders. I know that because I’ve spoken, because I’ve sacrificed, children and parent are more confident in their intellectual abilities, ready to take on new challenges, and lead when it’s hard to stand strong.

I still believe that effort was not wasted. Because I always did it for the ministry and I know for a FACT God’s will was accomplished.

But I do not feel smart, or like a wise consumer. Because all of that goodness has been accomplished while I put my family, my children at risk with a liability we could not withstand if something went wrong, and within a company that enjoyed the profit of my labor without the loyalty of relationship.

God uses all things for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. I trust Him for that.

But I have removed my faith from a company that will profit on the vulnerability and hope of their people.

With homeschooling – or really anything we identify as a ministry – the savvy consumer isn’t looking quite so hard to find the deception in the spin. This is why it hurts so badly to learn that the motivations of others might be different than our own.

I fear that because of the desire from highest corporate authorities to turn a profit God has removed His hand of protection from this company. That the communities that have been the life blood of the organization will fall in a flood. The Directors who have been the hands of homeschooling in community will find their hands raised in surrender, like my own, because the liability is too great and the corporation will not help them with the necessary changes.

All because the vision that was originally cast is so very different from the vision of today.

I wish that the organization would just own what they’re doing and make sure that all who are working for them would acknowledge it as well. And yet, I know the Truth.

People don’t want to be a part of a company or a transaction. They want to be a part of a family.

And so we are at an impasse.

Edits: I have edited this post from original publication slightly. I corrected typos (darn fat fingers!) and I was incorrectly using the word “profit.” Sales and profit are not interchangeable. I’ve tried to correct this in every spot. I added clarity that all of these numbers don’t take into account any of the expenses. I also removed the statement “Ministry is by-product of that. If it weren’t, they would be organized as a non-profit, not a for-profit company.” Upon consideration I think that the founders probably just didn’t want a board of directors and that oversight… thus a non-profit wasn’t the way to go.

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Critical Education

I’m really digging into Dorothy Sayers’ Lost Tools of Learning lecture right now. I really want to have someone read it out loud to me, so I can pretend I am at the lecture where she first presented it in 1947!

(I had a guest preacher deliver the whole Sermon on the Mount from memory for a sermon one day and I’m pretty sure it was the best sermon experience ever… I want that for Lost Tools now!)

As I consider the purpose, the aim, of our homeschool journey, I come back to the idea that we must use the subjects presented as tools, as the proving ground for the ultimate education skill to acquire – critical thinking.

I also question whether I’m using the right terminology in my thoughts right now regarding the classical model… Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric can be used for different layers of understanding.

For example, from a skills-based perspective I know that I am Rhetorical in some tasks and skills, but absolutely Grammatical in others. (For example, I know a lot more about raising rabbits than the average person… but practically nothing about engine mechanics.)

From an emotional/maturation perspective I know that I look at the world much differently now in my 40s than I did in my 20s. Was I even capable of a Rhetorical perspective in my 20s? I certainly thought that I was. But even as I look back at the blog posts on this website from years ago I realize that I have matured in my understanding and the things that occupied my thoughts. So am I Rhetorical now? Will I ever actually be?

Through the idea of continuous sanctification into this thought process and my mind has been spinning!

So, in sum, I currently believe there are at least two tracks of discussion regarding the education of a student with the classical model: both the functional task track and the developmental maturity track.

Here’s Dorothy Sayers’ argument for education in critical thought:

“For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armour was ever so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words.

They do not know what the words mean; they are prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.

We, who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armoured tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world fight massed propaganda with a smattering of “subjects”; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spellbinder, we have the impudence to be astonished.”

I can’t help but think that these words, although they were delivered 70 years ago, could have been written today. I’m trying to reconcile a desire for a classical, time tested and proven education, with an equally necessary need to help my students navigate technology and mass marketing.

It seems to me that Logic and Reasoning is an absolute MUST… both traditional and applied. I keep coming back to the idea that mathematics in a traditional sense (pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, etc.) is necessary, but there also needs to be some sort of applied mathematics like design/architecture, or robotics.

What are the texts or subjects you think could be used to help students develop the armor needed to function as strong critical thinkers in our current world.?

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My Community is Closing – Now what?

Last week I heard of another community in our area closing.

With this particular community, the church is booting them from the building because renting space to a for-profit entity puts the church’s property tax exemption at risk in their county.

The whole adventure caused the Director to take a hard look at her own licensing agreement and she realized she was carrying complete liability as a sole proprietor for the community and, after prayer, she and her husband decided that the risk was too high for them to bear. No one else is willing to be the liable, sacrificial lamb for the community, and just like, a snap of the fingers, and a full community of folks is without a direction for the next year.

See, the tricky thing about relationships – many of us find our communities extremely valuable and just plain like them! Many are loyal to the leadership that exists and, after realizing that our financial involvement puts their family in a precarious position with liability… we just don’t want to wish that uncertainty upon the people we care about.

That’s a reason why relationships matter.

Some folks might think that the answer to a community closing is to just close up shop, run away to suck their thumb, and grieve for the good ‘ol days.

Hold that thought. There might be a better way…

Ya’ll, you realize that there are communities of homeschoolers meeting all over the country who don’t place an insane amount of liability on one individual?

Ya’ll realize that there are people who are able to locally govern themselves and have accountability, community, and academic rigor?

Friends! Groups of people meeting in community to educate together are not a proprietary issue!

If you’ve been in a community and love it, you don’t have to stop.

But it will take work. It will take thoughtfulness, and it will require your core group to jump through hoops.

So the questions you really need to ask yourself:

  • Is this what God is calling me to do?
  • Do I do hard things?
  • Does my life have the margin to move from consumer in this area to provider?
  • Who’s willing to journey with me?

(Realize, your previous Director(s) might be very quiet about the whole topic for awhile and they likely won’t take a leadership role. That’s because they are under a non-compete clause of their previous licensing agreement and even though those have been proven to be pretty much unenforceable in court, chances are good they’re trying to “do the right thing” by their previous position. That’s a reason you like them. Keep them informed of your activities.)

“For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves…”

Dorothy Sayers, “Lost Tools of Learning” (1947)

The lovely thing about the classical model that many folks in communities have been experiencing, and that the natural tendencies of home educators is to look beyond what is easily provided for them, is that no topic is unapproachable to you! You have all the skills needed to approach this lack of community problem, tackle it methodically, and find success!

Here are a few options to get you started in the right direction:

Lost Tools of Learning. Dorothy Sayers’ lecture on the Lost Tools of Learning is fabulous. Many people have heard of it but fewer have actually read it. Stop. Take a moment and read it. You won’t be sorry.

Homeschool CPA. Carol Topp has created a website, books, and workshops that are invaluable to a group wanting to figure out how to create a legally compliant organization that doesn’t place any member in a precarious position. She is available for consultations as well. I bought my first book from her three years ago and now I have three of them as well as a workshop… her blog posts over the years have helped me realize items where I can adjust and lead well.

Jamie Buckland – Classical Program Consultant. Jamie Buckland has opened her services to the public since the beginning of this year and what she has to offer is valuable and helpful for those trying to find their own way to a homeschool community. She offers workshops, consultations, and her desire is to help folks cut through the chase and focus on the main priorities of your home education endeavor.

Do any of you have other resources you would add to this list? Please leave it in the comments!

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Gaslighting – What is it?

There’s a term that has emerged into my awareness in recent years called “gaslighting.” I have used it lately and had people look at me with questioning eyes, so it seems worth a discussion of the definition!

The definition of gaslighting is: to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. “‘Gaslighting’ is used to describe abusive behavior, specifically when an abuser manipulates information in such a way as to make a victim question his or her own sanity. Gaslighting intentionally makes someone doubt their memories or perception of reality.” (PRI)

Gaslighting is a tricky concept, and it absolutely takes advantage of the one who is trying to be a people pleaser. It can be a tool used to silence discussion, to rebuild a shared history into a more favorable final outcome, and to assert superiority of one person over another.

An example of gaslighting from my experience:

CC has never expected folks to travel more than 100 miles to practicums or community visits, etc. I know this because I’ve served in a huge geographical territory and this is a staple of what we talk about to leaders. However, when I pushed back on current leadership about requiring tutors to attend a practicum after the location was moved to 100+ miles away from their home, I was told that rule never existed.

It took me texting folks who have been serving in large territories and asking them, “This is a thing, right? I didn’t make it up?” and much research to discover that the 100 mile expectation is clearly stated in the Family Covenant that each family signs. Triumphant, I said – “This is a thing! I promise, I’m not crazy!” at which point the team leadership told me that the stricture only applied to families, whereas tutors were called to a higher standard. That I was still crazy for not recognizing this.

But… tutors who are independent contractors are held to a lesser standard by law in our state and should not be expected to attend any training whatsoever – they should be contracted because they already possess the skill set needed to fulfill the job!

That’s gaslighting.

I was led to believe that I was making up a common practice and a little insane – or contrary – or causing confusion – so the leadership could put all of the responsibility for all of the conflict onto my own shoulders. But I never initiated the conflict; I only got involved when the appropriate boundaries were overstepped and it threatened the lawful operation of my community… and yet I walked away from the conversations questioning if I was the problem.

That’s gaslighting.

When an organization changes its practices regularly, it lends itself to situations where gaslighting can occur easily. When an organization preaches humility to it’s leadership – which is a good thing – it lends itself to difficulty thinking a differing opinion is allowed to exist. When leaders speak down to you, or tell you that you just don’t understand from the correct perspective – without giving you the tools to see it from “the right perspective” – it sets up an unhealthy, abusive relationship.

Goodness gracious – I sat for years on situations that made me uncomfortable because I refused to say anything just in case it was a preference issue instead of a sin issue! There is so much gray in this world and I don’t want to be a destroyer – I want to build things up!

Repeatedly, almost as a mantra, I have spent this spring saying, “I have common sense. I use good judgement, I am a leader with integrity, I am not overreacting,” because the folks above me were telling me that by speaking up, by going to bat for my tutors and community, I was subversive, unsubmissive, acting like a spoiled child who wasn’t getting their way, and divisive. (And don’t let me get started on what my husband thinks about the manipulative assault he saw taking place on my character and self-perception over this!)


“Gaslighting is an insidious act that makes the victim doubt and mistrust what they think, experience, or feel. In short, it’s a brilliantly brutal way of messing with someone’s mind.” (The Date Mix)

Here are some suggestions to help you if you’ve been gaslighted:

Don’t Waffle.

If you’ve made a decision, stand by it. Yes, you could be wrong – so what are the consequences if you’ve messed up? Can you live with them? Yes? Then stand by your decision. Test your decision with writing a list. Research your decision. Then, even if it’s a gray area, STAND.

Keep a Record.

May I just say that it might be wise to figure out how to record your conflict conversations? (Obviously, don’t break your state law here. But, in all but 11 states, federal law allows for one-party consent, enabling you to record a conversation in person or over the phone, if you are a participant in the conversation.)

Recording your calls allows you to go back later and actually know what was said. It has been a wonderful antidote to “I never said that,” when I can say, “Actually, you did say that – it’s a direct quote from this conversation right here.” Since gaslighting techniques prey on making you believe you’re misunderstanding, actually knowing what was said has a liberating affect on the whole resolution process.

(And yes, I do realize how messed up it is that I’m saying you should record conversations within a Christian organization in order to ensure truthful statements….)

Confide in a Trusted Support System.

You need to have someone who can help you see reason and logic. This is not gossip, this is survival. You don’t necessarily need a dozen people to help you see truth, but you do need one or maybe two folks who can help you walk through these issues. They don’t even have to be a part of the organization! Try a parent, a friend, a spouse, a sibling, or even a therapist. Have someone who is willing to listen to you sort stuff the tangled issues – isolation is a key technique to making sure you stay confused and doubtful of your own convictions.


The time might come for you to give up. I know the fighter in you recoils when you read that! But you can honor the call for unity within the body of Christ without being in constant, daily relationship with another. Sometimes the best choice is to make a clean break and walk.

How do you know when enough is enough? “If your partner genuinely wants to change, then they’ll acknowledge their part, apologize for any wrongdoing, and want to work on the relationship, which will be evident to you… [but] the sad truth is that your abuser may never realize or admit what they were doing – mostly because they don’t think they’re doing anything wrong.” (Brianne Hogan)

Your healthiest choice might very well be to walk away and let them just simmer in their wrongy-wrongness, especially if there is no acknowledgement that they can see anything from your perspective.

Don’t Blame Yourself.

“Logic and reasoning don’t work with a gaslighter. While things might never make sense to you, that doesn’t mean you should shoulder the blame.” (Brianne Hogan) For those who are genuinely wanting to come at conflict from a consensus based approach, who are trying to avoid pridefulness, it can be really hard to not look around and take the blame for things going wrong on your own shoulders.

Yes, there are likely things you could have done better – but that’s the human experience and it’s part of learning! If things go badly for the other party (or if the organization fails), there needs to be reckoning on their part for the role they played through subterfuge, tricky wording, and guilted expectations. Their failure is not your fault for saying, “No, I refuse to be used anymore.” Your stand for logic and reasoning is actually a sign of health, strength, and beauty.

Recognizing gaslighting is hard, but it’s also really hard to acknowledge that you’ve been the victim of the techniques. I’m so sorry if you have experienced this! I know that I’m continuing to work through my own experiences with gaslighting – calling a spade a spade is part of my healing process.

Do you have experiences you realize were ultimately gaslighting techniques? I’d love to hear in the comments, as well as how you’ve found healing!

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